RM Sotheby’s kicks off the new year with its annual Arizona auction, which brings its usual mix of rare and/or historically significant high-end automobiles to the Arizona Biltmore January 18–19. In 2017, the auction achieved $53.7 million in total sales, and 2018’s mix of cars is just as exciting, including several highly desirable Ferraris and a “semi-competition” Shelby Cobra 427. Just about every car on offer is special in its own way, but here are five of the more significant lots.
The Jaguar D-Type won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times on the trot from 1955–57, but the car didn’t win on its first go. The D-Type debuted at the 1954 race, with the Jaguar Works team entering three cars. Sadly, all three were forced to drop out of the race with engine problems that were traced to bad fuel. Of those three 1954 Works cars, this is the one to have. Driven by Stirling Moss and Peter Walker in the ’54 race, it led for a brief period and was later used as a factory test car, so most of Jaguar’s factory drivers of the day had at least some seat time in it. Although it never won any major races, it’s one of the most collectible D-Types around. RM Sotheby’s sold a Le Mans winner in Monterey in 2016 for $21.78 million, so the presale estimate here seems realistic.
At one time, Italy was filled with talented coachbuilders. One of them was Felice Mario Boano. Working with other companies, he is credited with the Lancia Aurelia and Fiat 600 designs, but in 1954 he founded Carrozzeria Boano with his son, Gian Paolo. Although the company was only around for three years, Boano produced bodies for the Ferrari 250 GT, as well as Fiat-Abarth, Chrysler, and Lincoln. Many designs were for one-off show cars, like this futuristic Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Speciale, which Boano designed for the 1955 Turin Motor Show. It is the only one of its kind and has been shown at Rétromobile, as well as Pebble Beach, where it won its class in 2017.
While not necessarily the most graceful car to wear a Ferrari badge, this 212 Inter by Ghia certainly is striking, and it has a heck of a lot going for it. As a 212 Inter, it’s one of the earliest Ferrari road cars, built at a time when the company only built cars for the road in very small numbers. As a one-off designed by Ghia for the 1952 Paris Salon, it is also totally unique. Since then, it has been shown at the Cavallino Classic and Pebble Beach. Most importantly though, in terms of history and value, the car’s first owner was President of Argentina Juan Perón.
The G1 was Alfa Romeo’s first serious production model, although only about 50 were built. This is the only known survivor and it is represented as the oldest known Alfa Romeo anywhere in the world. It sold new in Australia and, after its rear axle broke, its engine was used to power a water pump at a Queensland farm. It has since been put right, and its age alone is enough to make it one of the more noteworthy cars in Scottsdale.
The story of Preston Tucker and the Tucker 48 has been told in films, books, magazines, and blogs, but it’s not often that you actually see one in public or up for sale. The 48 has long been a million-dollar car, and this one—one of only 51—is even more special in that it was the car used in a short film promoting the original Tucker 48, called The Tucker: The Man and the Car. It was later used for high-speed tests at Indy and became Preston Tucker’s personal car for several years before he sold it to Winthrop Rockefeller.