10 oddball vehicles keeping 2023’s Amelia Island auctions wacky
When the final hammer drops on the Amelia Island weekend auctions it will be the seven and eight-figure Ferraris, Bugattis, and Benzes that make the headlines.
Dig a little deeper into the auction catalogs and you’ll find dozens of cars that may not command the highest prices, but would certainly attract almost as much attention as the showstoppers.
Quirky? Yes. Rare? Most certainly.
Would you be brave enough to bid against the grain and catch one of these ten oddballs?
1952 Daimler DB18 Hooper & Co. Drophead Coupe
Broad Arrow presale estimate: $125,000–$175,000
Visitors to the first London Motor Show after World War II crowded around the Daimler stand to see the company’s new DB18 Drophead Coupe. It was a car that was quite literally fit for a king, with coachbuilders Hooper & Co having crafted its bodywork for King George VI. This example was built in 1952 and was lavishly equipped with a dashboard made from camphor wood imported from Australia, an automatic convertible top, and power windows. Propulsion was provided by a 2.5-liter straight-six engine paired with a four-speed pre-selector transmission. Originally supplied to a buyer in Birmingham, the car was subsequently bought by avid collector Ernest Stern of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1972. It came into the hands of its current owner in 1995 and underwent a five-year restoration in 2012, complete with British Racing Green paintwork and a tan leather interior. This green-over-tan stunner is believed to be one of just three original Hooper-bodied cars in existence.
1950 Maserati A6GCS 2000 ‘Monofaro’ by Fantuzzi
RM Sotheby’s presale estimate: $1,250,000–$1,500,000
A class winner at the 1951 Gran Premio di Interlagos in Brazil, this marvelous Maserati has quite the backstory. Even its name has a tale to tell: A stands for Alfieri, a tribute by Ernesto Maserati to his late brother, 6 refers to the number of cylinders, G is for ghisa (the cast iron which forms the block), C is for Corsa and S is for Sport, while Monofaro refers to the unusual central headlamp. The coachwork was by Medardo Fantuzzi and only 14 or 15 examples were built and sold to privateer racers the world over—in this case Brazil, where its no-less elaborately-named owner Mario Valentim Dos Santos won his class at Interlagos. Later the car raced against the likes of Fangio and Gonzàlez in Rio de Janeiro. During a visit to the factory for repairs it was upgraded with a dual overhead cam cylinder head, believed to be the first time such a component was ever fitted to a Maserati. The car has spent time in the U.K. and U.S.A., competed in vintage races and rallies, and has been painstakingly maintained by its last keeper for the last 18 years.
1966 Lancia Flavia Sport 1.8 Iniezione
Gooding & Company presale estimate: $90,000–$120,000
The Lancia Flavia of 1961 was Italy’s first series-production front-wheel-drive motor car. The Flavia was launched as a Berlina sedan, and a Pininfarina-bodied coupe and a Vignale convertible followed, but it was the Zagato-designed Sport that was most desirable. Beneath the elegant Ercole Spada-penned lines was an uprated 1.8-liter flat-four engine which added extra straight-line speed to accompany the Flavia’s highly-rated handling. The 1966 example offered for sale by Gooding & Company is one of only 32 cars out of 628 equipped with Bosch’s Kugelfischer fuel injection—hence the Iniezione moniker. With only 3,615 miles on the clock, the Zagato-bodied beauty is in immaculate condition.
1970 Citroën Méhari
Gooding & Company pre-sale estimate: $30,000–$40,000
Should a Deux Cheveux be a little too robust for your taste then perhaps this most flimsy of Citroëns will take your fancy. Built on the platform of the 2CV, the Méhari shed what little metal was present in the body and replaced it with a minimalist shell made of ABS plastic. Rudimentary weather protection came from a fabric top and folding windscreen. Being so ridiculously light and with the incredible articulation of the 2CV’s suspension, it was remarkably capable on rough roads (or no roads) and the French military bought up more than 7,000 of the nearly 145,000 Méharis made between 1968 and 1988. The 1970 model offered without reserve by Gooding & Company comes with a 29-hp, 602-cc two-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, and bright white paint.
1952 Fiat 1400 Rondine Coupe
Gooding & Company presale estimate: $150,000–$200,000
Fiat’s first post-war model, the 1400, quickly became a favorite among Turin’s coachbuilders. Bertone, Pininfarina, Ghia, Touring, and Vignale each produced their own custom bodies for the 1400. Gooding & Company has a lesser-known Stabilimento Monviso version for sale, designed by Giovanni Michelotti, which it’s auctioning off without reserve. Between 1950 and 1953, Monviso produced a limited number of these Rondine (Italian for Swallow) coupes and cabriolets with rear-hinged doors and fetching two-tone paintwork. This 1952 example remained in the family of its original owner for 40 years and was completely restored under the stewardship of late American collector Leo Schigiel.
1965 Ford Cortina Lotus Mk I Estate Custom
Gooding & Company presale estimate: $90,000–$120,000
Lotus never built an estate (wagon) version of the Cortina, but Robert Herzog of Illinois most certainly did. Starting with a Mark I Cortina body, Herzog fitted the same 1.6-liter double-overhead-cam “Kent” engine, uprated suspension, and brakes that Lotus did, but he then chose to install a five-speed gearbox to make it a bit more useable. Herzog also fitted some rather chunky Minilite wheels than would have been fitted in period. Herzog sold the car in 2016 and it sold again in 2020 for $100,800. This time around, the one-of-one Cortina shooting brake will cross Gooding & Company’s auction block without reserve.
1969 Allison Daytona Dune Buggy
Gooding & Company presale estimate: $40,000–$60,000
While the West Coast had Bruce Meyers to thank for his Meyers Manx dune buggy, across the country in Florida, Ken Allison offered his own VW Beetle-based beach fun in the form of the Allison Daytona. Around 600 were built with Allison’s artfully hand-laid fiberglass bodies, often with striking paintwork—like this 1969 model with its metal flake silver and red gel coat. Air-cooled power comes from a 1.5-liter flat-four and there’s a four-speed manual transmission and drum brakes at all four corners. Gooding & Company will sell this flashy example, with only 5,700 miles accumulated in more than 50 years, without reserve.
1971 Stutz Blackhawk Series I
Gooding & Company presale estimate: $250,000–$275,000
Virgil Exner’s Stutz Blackhawk was actually something of a white elephant. Only 25 of these crazy-expensive coupes were coachbuilt by Carrozzeria Padane in Italy on a Pontiac Grand Prix chassis. It was said to have taken over 1500 manhours to build each car, with six weeks alone required to apply the 22 layers of paint. It cost an alarming $25,000 in 1971 (equivalent to $185,000 today) which was about five times the price of a Cadillac, but despite the luxurious intentions and a 425-hp, 460 cubic-inch V-8 it was, underneath, a little unsophisticated. The car seen here, offered by Gooding & Company, is one of 14 survivors and underwent an eight-year restoration in 2011.
1991 Venturi 111 Cup
Broad Arrow presale estimate: $90,000–$120,000
France’s answer to the Lotus Esprit was the somewhat short-lived Venturi. Built by the rather unimaginatively-named Manufacture de Voitures de Sport (French for “sports car maker”) the mid-engined sports car had a lot in common with its rival from across the English Channel. A steel backbone chassis with box-section reinforcement was clothed in a sleek fiberglass body to save weight, while in this 111 model, a two-liter turbo motor from the Renault 21 was installed, supposedly to save its owners from paying a 38 percent tax on cars with more than 2.0-liters of engine displacement. Despite that, this 1991 Venturi 11 Cup never left the dealership in Venice. As such, this “time capsule” car has just 350 kilometers (218 miles) on the odometer.
1958 Berkeley Sports SE328
Broad Arrow presale estimate: $30,000–$40,000
Designed to be ready to race in the 750-cc class, the tiny Berkely Sports SE328 was like a scaled-down, cut-price Austin-Healey or MG. Sold for just $1600 when new in 1958, the Berkeley featured a 328-cc two-stroke, air-cooled Excelsior Talisman Twin engine which made a mighty 18 horsepower when its dual Amal carburetors were breathing heavy. Nonetheless, it was a sprightly little thing, weighing just over 600 lbs, and it had coil-sprung independent suspension for dainty handling. Looking cheerful in yellow with green striping, and fresh from restoration, this little rapscallion should put a smile on the next owner’s face.