Every year, the auctions at Monterey Car Week are filled with the rarest of the rare. One-off, coachbuilt touring cars are displayed at the Concours and race-winning prototypes cross the auction blocks, so it’s hard for any one car to really stand out amidst the automotive sensory overload. Among the auction listings of these extravagant and impressive machines, it’s sometimes the unassuming cars that cause us to stop and dig deeper. Here are six cars that made us do a double-take.
The Hot Shot was Crosley’s attempt to inject life into its showrooms as the Big Three refreshed their lineups after the War. The bug-eyed, doorless roadster was America’s first post-War sports car and proved itself a competitive racer with its 725cc, 26.5-hp engine. With only 752 sold, Hot Shots are a rare sight. Even among existing Hot Shots, this one is special; it’s the first one built, wearing serial number VC10001.
The 911 is one of the most enduring designs in automotive history. Perhaps it’s because Porsche is true to their original vision, or perhaps they’ve got a warehouse in Stuttgart stuffed with fitted car covers that they don’t want to see go to waste. Either way, the 911 silhouette has become seared into the brain of just about every car aficionado. That’s why this one-off roadster made us take notice. Its unique body, designed by Bertone, is decidedly Italian and doesn’t leave many hints at its Porsche running gear underneath. Sadly, this gorgeous design never went into production as was hoped.
Later Fiat Multipla models are shockingly disproportionate and just plain bizarre, but they still brought lots of utility to a small package, just like the original. We don’t know how they went so wrong because this 1959 model is downright charming, looking like the larval stage of a VW Transporter. It’s powered by a 28-hp, 600cc engine that sends power to the rear wheels and is fresh off a two-year restoration.
Combining the design and engineering of three countries on two continents, the Nash-Healey Le Mans used a Wisconsin-built powertrain with a British chassis and a Pininfarina-designed body built in Turin. The logistics of shipping all of those components made for an expensive car, but the results were both beautiful and athletic, if not a sales success. A Nash-Healey finished third at Le Mans in 1952 behind a pair of Mercedes-Benz W194 coupes yet the race success lead to just over 500 sales in three years. This two-tone beauty is a California car and shows just 33,866 miles on the odometer.
Imagine a minicar from the Eastern-Bloc in the early 1970s: Spartan, boxy, and utilitarian, with exposed door hinges and bead-rolled panels to give rigidity to thin sheet metal. Now imagine that same car drawn by Studio Ghibli. That’s a Nissan Pao. Sold only in Nissan’s Cherry dealerships in Japan, 51,000 were produced from 1987-1001.
A Pinto wagon isn’t all that strange. One in survivor condition, with only 15,738 miles, certainly is. Who buys a green Pinto wagon with woodgrain trim fresh off the lot in 1978 and thinks to themselves, “I’d better keep this baby in pristine shape, because in 40 years, it’s gonna be a sweet ride”? What’s even stranger is that they were right.