You could put on a solid vintage racing event just with the race cars on offer at the Monterey auctions this year. Even looking past the Aston Martin DP215, Ferrari 250 GTO, and other high-dollar Italian racers on offer, there are plenty of mouth-watering race cars that look like they’re just aching to head down the road to Laguna Seca and get to racing.
From open-wheel cars old and new, to endurance racers and even a hot rod, here are some of the track-ready highlights to look out for in Monterey this year.
There isn’t a whole lot you can do with a slightly used Indy car, but this one is a real piece of history that won the Indianapolis 500, aka “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” There’s only one of those each year, of course, and this is the 2016 car that took the checkered flag at the event’s 100th running, piloted by rookie driver Alexander Rossi.
There are three Ford GT40s on offer in Monterey this year, including the ’66 Le Mans podium finisher at RM and a Mk I road car that is also at Gooding. This Mk IV has led a rather interesting life, having been fitted with spider bodywork and raced in the North American Can-Am series rather than the endurance races in Europe. More recently, it has been restored to proper Mk IV GT40 specifications. Only 10 genuine cars remain.
Monterey isn’t the usual place for this sort of thing, but this isn’t your typical backyard build. A ’32 Ford Roadster with a Flathead V-8 is the quintessential hot rod, and this is one of the most historically significant and well documented of them all. A consistent winner in the Southern California drag racing scene in those golden years of the early 1950s, it ran in the low 12-second range and later managed 11s when powered by a Chrysler Hemi. It had a world record in its class for a time, and in its early days had pinstriping by Von Dutch. It was restored in the 2000s and displayed in 2007 at Pebble Beach, where it won the Dean Batchelor Award for most significant hot rod. It’s has the style, the performance, the great history, and the high-dollar restoration, and that’s why it is selling in Monterey.
Gulf blue and orange is one of the most famous color schemes in racing, and the Cosworth DFV is one of the most famous engines in racing. This car has them both. It also has some of great names like Lafitte, Posey, Hobbs, and Jarier attached to it, plus three podium finishes at Le Mans out of five entries at that race. In 1976 and ’77, it finished second. If that kind of history isn’t enough to make you desperately want this car, then just listen to it at full tilt. As for value, it last sold for £370,000 ($485,357), but that was way back in 2006 at Bonhams Goodwood.
Mark Donohue was one of the best and most versatile drivers of them all, and in 1970 he finished second at the Indy 500 in only his second time running the race. This is the Lola he drove, wearing the famous blue and yellow Sunoco colors of the Roger Penske team. It has since been restored and run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
A 911 race car isn’t necessarily anything special. There have been tons of them over the years. But there are a few individual 911s that have really made the car’s reputation, and this is one of the earliest such examples. A 1965 911, it raced at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1969 and the 24 Hours of Daytona twice, with a class win there in 1967. While not the most significant Porsche racer, it’s a big part of the 911 story.
Jim Clark, Colin Chapman, and Lotus rightly get the credit for bringing the mid-engine revolution to Indy with their second-place finish in 1963 and victory in 1965, but they only evolved what this car little started. John Cooper had already flipped things around in Formula One and sports car racing with mid-engine cars in the late ’50s over in Europe, and was then persuaded to try out Indy in 1961. The T54 was a new car built especially for Indianapolis, but it was still heavily based on the T53 Grand Prix car and its 2.7-liter Climax engine was well down on power compared to the 4.4-liter Offenhausers powering the rest of the field. Nevertheless, Cooper’s ace driver Jack Brabham qualified respectably, ran as high as third place and finished the race in ninth. It showed the Brickyard what a mid-engine car could do in the corners, a point that the more powerful Lotus-Fords drove home two years later.
The Bugattis of today are most at home being valeted in Monaco or cruising Ocean Drive in South Beach. In the 1920s and ’30s, most of them belonged on the race track, as this Type 51’s surprisingly extensive race record shows. The Belgian Grand Prix, the Algerian Grand Prix (which it won), the Casablanca Grand Prix, the Pau Grand Prix, the Italian Grand Prix, the Coppa Acerbo, the USA Grand Prix, and the Vanderbilt Cup are just some of the races this car took part in, and its supercharged straight-eight is a work of art.
After the success of the featherweight 550 Spyder, Porsche continued to develop the concept with the Type 718 RSK, which was more aerodynamic, more powerful, and handled better. Porsche built only 34 718 RSKs, but they certainly got the world’s attention. They’re even deemed an important enough part of Porsche’s heritage that the current Boxster/Cayman range is also called 718. This one ran at Le Mans in 1959 before making its way across the Atlantic to be raced extensively in the SCCA, where it racked up a couple of wins.