Bonhams had a successful week at Scottsdale last year, scoring four of the top 10 highest sales and selling 86 cars for a total of $36.3 million. Bonhams has 111 cars on offer for 2018, and while there’s nothing to top the Jaguar Lightweight E-Type that sold for $7.37 million last year, there is an enticing mix of cars spanning several eras and genres, from a 1913 Regal Underslung to a like-new Porsche 911R. Here are Bonhams’ five most noteworthy lots.
As vintage Ferraris go, Daytonas aren’t all that rare. Many of the convertible versions, meanwhile, didn’t come from the factory that way but were instead coupes that later had their roof cut off. There were genuine Spiders that came from the factory, but only 123 of them were ever built, compared to about 1400 coupes, so this thoroughly restored and documented GTS/4 Daytona Spider is a serious car.
What makes a nearly 50-year-old Mercedes convertible with just 200 horsepower potentially worth more than a new Rolls-Royce Ghost? Well, the 280 SE 3.5 was no ordinary car. The 280 SE 3.5 was the last of the coachbuilt Mercedes-Benzes. Mostly built by hand, it featured the company’s new overhead cam V-8 and was one of the most expensive cars on the road when it was new. It was also magnificently appointed with tons of wood and leather as well as all the expected luxury and convenience features of the day.
Any early Porsche racing car is special, but one of the silver cars that was campaigned by the factory is at another level of desirable. The 550 was Porsche’s first pure racing car, and the 550A that came out in 1956 introduced a lighter, more rigid spaceframe chassis in addition to other improvements. This one was campaigned by Porsche at numerous events in period, placing fifth overall (second in class) and fourth overall (first in class) at the Nurburgring 1000km. If it sells, it will be among the most expensive Porsches ever sold at auction. For reference, Jerry Seinfeld’s 1955 500 Spyder sold for $5.3 million two years ago.
Before Alfa Romeo realized in the post-war years that it would be better off selling smaller, lower-priced models, it nevertheless built large, lavish, and expensive cars in the pre-war style like the 6C. Bonhams’ example is apparently the last car to receive this graceful Pinin Farina coachwork. It also rides on the competition-bred Super Sports version of the 6C chassis and it appeared at Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este. The car’s restoration is also recent enough that it should still be a thoroughly showable car.
Porsche uses the word “Carrera” fairly liberally, including on base model 911s. In the 1950s, however, a Carrera badge was seriously exotic because it signified a 356 using Ernst Fuhrmann’s four-cam Carrera, one of the more mechanically complex engines ever made. Originally designed for racing, the engine was deemed reliable enough for road use, and it became an available-but-very-expensive option on the 356 road car, and Carrera-powered 356s became successful racers in their own right. A genuine, restored 356 Carrera is one of the more collectible Porsche models you can find, and Bonhams’ example ticks all the right boxes.