Hershey was a glorious mixed bag of automotive treats again this year, but when it came to top-dollar sale prices, pre-war cars took the cake. While an 8-percent drop in sell-through drove overall sales at the RM Sotheby’s auction down in 2018, totaling $10.2M compared to $15.7M in 2017, the pre-war cars performed better than other segments. Overall average prices were down, mostly a result of high-dollar cars not selling through as much this year. But in the brighter pre-war segment, the Packards really stole the show, with three beautiful cars commanding final prices in the top five. Here are the most expensive cars sold at Hershey this year:
Golden Tan is an especially good look for this gorgeous Packard Twelve, which remains one of the most memorable icons of 1930s design. The open-top Victoria can carry five people in total, and you’d be a fool to pass up a ride in one that’s been restored and cared for this well. This car won the Tom Thomson Art Gallery Timeless Design award at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours. The final sale price was right within the expected range, but not out of the ordinary at all for Twelve Convertible Victorias, which RM has sold for more in recent memory. Gooding & Co. sold one for $500,000 in 2012.
Prefer your 12-cylinder American sculpture with space for just one passenger? Then ditch the rear bench seat from the Victoria and score this Coupe Roadster, which in 1936 was one of the fastest cars your rich blood could buy. In fact, this car is even more special because it is believed to be the first of the 14th Series cars built. It was restored in 1987 and has a documented history stretching to 1972. Back in ’92 this car sold in Scottsdale for $140,000, and at Hershey it commanded just shy of its low $275K estimate.
The Lincoln Model KB is perhaps the most collectible pre-war Lincoln, a large and in charge luxury automobile that competed with Duesenberg, Packard, Cadillac, and Rolls-Royce. This car has made the rounds at several big auctions since 2013, but this is the most it’s sold for since changing hands for $275,000 in 2015. It is one of the 25 “semi-custom” KBs, in this case style 281, which is a convertible sedan penned by Raymond Dietrich. And if you’re a fan of weird history, the car was used as a tow vehicle when a Pebble Beach Concours Judge got a hold of it in the 1950s. Imagine seeing that today.
2. 1941 Packard Custom Super Eight One Eighty Convertible Victoria by Darrin
Another Packard, this one with eight cylinders rather than 12. But before you get bored with the lack of displacement, consider that this Packard benefits from flashier, sportier styling than previous models—the work of designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin. So-called “Darrin” Packards were sold in very few numbers in 1941 and ’42, and this car is one of 35 built in 1941. It has a correct rebuilt ’41 engine block, along with gobs of other quality restoration work. And if you needed any more proof this Packard has been around the block, there’s the little detail that it showed in the Pebble Concours all the way back in 1956, when the event was only six years old.
Sitting pretty as the top seller at Hershey this year is a V-16 monster worthy of the honor. It is one of six 16-cylinder cars offered at Pebble, including five Cadillacs and a Marmon, and it boasts 452 cubic inches of mechanical magnificence that includes hydraulic valve lifters and 320 lb-ft of torque at 1500 rpm. This isn’t the original body, however; the “Madame X” coachwork that came with the car when it was sold new in Cape Town, South Africa, was replaced sometime after the car arrived in the U.S. in 1978. It now bears the look of a V-8 Fleetwood roadster. Although this car cruised comfortably past its estimate, a 1932 Packard Twin Six Individual Custom-Series 906 Dietrich was bid past it to $540,000, but it hammered unsold.