Recapping 3 of the most significant Porsches offered at Monterey
The six-auction Monterey schedule (Worldwide, Mecum, Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding, and Russo and Steele) is compressed into a three-day gauntlet running only Thursday through Saturday, a nightmare in planning made even worse by Monterey’s legendary Route 1 traffic.
Crazy as it is, the rat race helps establish a tone for the market in the year to come, and the headline Porsches from the weekend can certainly shed some light on the world of that particular marque. Keep in mind, though, there were 142 Porsches crossing the six auction blocks (more than the 132 Chevrolets and 96 Fords) and we’re not rehashing any 356s or 911s here. No Carrera GTs, 918 Hybrids, or even legends like the 959. There are less than a handful of really, seriously, important, significant cars that define crucial points in Porsche’s history. Here are three such cars that crossed the block in Monterey this year.
1939 Porsche “Type 64”
RM Sotheby’s had arguably the most notable example, a car that bears the fully-justified adjective “unique.” That’s the 1939 Volkswagen Type 60K10, described as Porsche Type 64 in RM Sotheby’s catalog (though Porsche A.G. didn’t exist until years later.) One of three built, it was a 1939 project for a proposed Berlin-Rome race joining the Axis capitals. Set for mid-September, the race was preempted when Germany invaded Poland on September 1st. Based on the 985-cc Kraft durch Freude sedan that would become the Volkswagen, this car was driven during WWII by the Porsche family, then later sold and raced by Otto Mathé in Switzerland. It has only three documented owners since passing from Porsche family ownership.
Its narrow greenhouse, full envelope body designed by Erwin Komenda, and skirted wheels are the template from which the entire generation of 356 Porsches developed. It gained Porsche’s famed wide-font block print logo after the war, the oldest car to bear the company’s identity—if not necessarily the first, recognition that belongs to the relatively unknown original Type 356 mid-engined prototype.
On the auction block, there was a discrepancy between the bids the auctioneer was taking and those posted on the display screen. A $14M bid became $40M on the screen, to the excited pandemonium of the Porsche fans with their phones in the air. It eventually bumped to $70M on the screen before it was noted and corrected to show the actual bid of $17M. The sporting Type 64 left the block there, failing to meet reserve and unsold.
1959 Porsche RSK
Bonhams 1959 Porsche RSK, s/n 718-028, is one of only four believed built by Porsche with both offset and center steering provisions in the same chassis. The product of years of mid-engined development and the meticulously engineered, complicated and efficient four-cam Type 547 engine the RSK was developed from the Porsche 550 and 550A. The RSK had a rigid, lightweight space frame chassis of thin wall tubing, low pivot independent rear suspension and an improved Type 547 engine.
For 1957–58, the FIA allowed full-envelope bodywork in Formula 2 and a very few RSKs were delivered by Porsche with provision for a center-mounted driver and steering wheel. Porsche RSKs won F2 races at Rheims with Jean Behra and at Avus with Edgar Barth.
718-028 was sold to privateer Christian Goethals, who drove it to victory in the 1959 Leopoldville Grand Prix in what was then the Belgian Congo, the first of two consecutive victories there. He raced it in Europe later in 1959, then took sixth overall and third in class at the 1960 Buenos Aires GP.
The adaptability of Bonhams RSK to both sports car racing and Formula 2 is nearly singular. 718-028’s original engine, chassis, body and gearbox make it nearly unprecedented, but it no-saled on the block at a reported $3.7 million bid.
1960 Porsche 718 RS 60 Werks
RM Sotheby’s Porsche Type 718 has a different story. A 1960 RS60 s/n 718-044, it is one of four RS60s with works competition history. Driven by Stirling Moss, Joakim Bonnier, Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, Bob Holbert, and Hans Hermann, its racing history includes Le Mans, Sebring, Nürburgring 1000km, and Nassau Speed Weeks.
It was driven by Moss and Hill in the 1960 Targa Florio, a race the team led by over a minute at the beginning of the final lap only to suffer a differential failure a few kilometers from the finish. Moss, in his autobiography “My Cars, My Career”, called it “A super car, beautifully well balanced and simply tailor-made for the Targa Florio.”
Campaigned by Porsche with larger engines in the 2-litre class, 718-044 is specially built with a reinforced, stiffer frame to handle the more powerful engines, longer wheelbase, uprated brakes and wishbone independent rear suspension.
Sold to the U.S. after its factory racing period, it was driven by Porsche-legend Bob Holbert to a succession of wins and podium finishes in his SCCA Class E championship winning season. Recently restored in its Targa Florio livery, 718-044 is powered by a Porsche-sourced four-cam 2-litre Typ 587/3 engine, rather than the original engine.
Hammered sold on the block on a $4.65 million successful bid, under its $5.75 million low estimate, its final result was $5,120,000 with commission—the top Porsche transaction for the Monterey auctions.
There were many more Porsches in the Monterey auctions, but none rose to the level of these three. All three were bid to levels well below their pre-sale low estimates, an experience shared with most of the other top Monterey consignments. It was a tough environment on the peninsula for expensive cars in general—even historic Porsches such as these.