8 super-rare but not super-expensive cars in Monterey
The Monterey auctions are an oasis of cars that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. One-offs, $10M Ferrari race cars, and famous coachbuilt creations abound. That means it can be easy to overlook cars that ordinarily might stop in you tracks since they’re so rare, but don’t make the headlines in Monterey since there aren’t six zeroes on the price tag. We’ve scoured the catalogs, and here are eight such production cars that you should totally check out, even if they won’t make any top sale lists. After all, they probably won’t come up for sale again any time soon.
Presale estimate: $250,000–$300,000
If you’ve never heard the stranger-than-fiction saga of Jerry Weigert and his outrageous Vectors, read up on it here. Aside from all the behind-the-scenes drama, the cars themselves made quite a splash, and how could they not, with looks like that? But in the end, the company only produced a handful of models and only a few dozen Vectors in total.
The M12 comes into the story late, after an Indonesian firm called Megatech had wrestled control of Vector away from Weigert. Megatech also happened to have just bought Lamborghini from Chrysler, and moved Vector’s operations from California to Florida so they would be closer to Lamborghini’s North American offices. The M12 was the first production model after the takeover, and although it looks like an earlier Vector prototype, it borrows heavily from the Lamborghini Diablo, including the V-12 engine.
With a $189,000 price tag, the M12 was never going to be a car you see on every street corner, but it’s incredibly rare even by exotic car standards with just 17 built, including three pre-production examples. This car is the fifth M12 built. It has done 6000 miles and it sold for $94,600 in Scottsdale 10 years ago.
Presale estimate: $70,000–$90,000
Rare anywhere, the OSI 20M is especially rare here in the States, since sales were mostly limited to the German market. About 2000 were built in total, but only 200 are left.
OSI, short for Officine Stampaggi Industriali, was founded by Luigi Segre of Ghia as a separate coachbuilding firm. OSI built bodies for the Innocenti 950 Spider and the Fiat Familiare wagon, but their big production model was the 20M. Based on the German Ford Taunus and powered by the famous Cologne V-6, the 20M wears a remarkably clean fastback coupe body credited to Sergio Sartorelli, who also designed the Type 34 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
This one is an early production example that sold new to an American service member who brought it back home with him. It sat disassembled for many years, but today is only a few months off a complete nut and bolt restoration, so it’s likely one of the nicest in the world.
Presale estimate: $100,000–$125,000
With a name like “Doretti,” you’d think this car would have some Italian sheetmetal or even an Italian engine underneath, but the Swallow is as English as a rainy day. Built by Swallow Coachbuilding Company, an offshoot of the company started by Jaguar founder William Lyons, the Swallow Doretti is mostly Triumph TR2 underneath and the attractive body was penned by designer Frank Rainbow. Just 276 were built, and this one reportedly wears an older restoration with a technically incorrect but more powerful engine from a later TR3.
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $450,000–$650,000
The Tatra T77 is credited as the first serial-produced car designed with aerodynamics in mind. To folks in the 1930s, it must have looked like something from another planet, and almost everything about it is unusual. The air-cooled, hemispherical head V-8 makes use of lightweight elektron alloy, and by fitting the engine in the rear, the T77 didn’t need a large, heavy driveshaft running to the driven wheels. This kept weight down and allowed the car to sit much lower to the ground than most other automobiles at the time. The smooth-sided body and integrated fenders were also strange back when large separate fenders still ruled the road, and of course, there was the huge rear fin for stability and lack of a real rear window. Barely 250 T77s were built before it was replaced by the smaller, more high-volume Tatra 87. Today, as few as 20 cars may be left.
This car is a later T77A that came with a larger engine, and according to Gooding & Company, it was commandeered by the Germans during the war, then by the Soviets, and then sold in 1950 at a war surplus auction. It then received a restoration in its home country of the Czech Republic in the early 2000s and has since been displayed at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $90,000–$120,000
Citroën built nearly 9 million 2CVs or 2CV variants, making it France’s “people’s car.” Not exactly rare, then, but among those 2CV variants was the Sahara 4×4, of which only a few hundred were built. Most led hard lives, and according to Gooding & Company, there are as few as 27 left in the world.
What makes the Sahara 4×4 so interesting is its case of automotive multiple personality disorder. Four-wheel drive was nothing new or revolutionary in the ‘60s, but in typical French car fashion Citroën, just had to do things a little weirder. Instead of one engine and a transfer case, the car features a separate engine at each end. They can operate separately or together, meaning the Sahara 4×4 can be a front-engine front-drive car, a rear-engine rear-drive car, or a twin-engine four-wheel drive car. But don’t expect to go anywhere fast. There may be two engines, but they’re only 424 cc apiece. Mechanically sorted but mostly unrestored, this one sold not in French North Africa but in Switzerland, which goes a long way in explaining why it’s so well preserved.
Presale estimate: $225,000–$275,000
Starting in the 1930s, Marmon-Herrington of Indianapolis took light duty Fords and converted them to four-wheel drive. The work was done largely by hand and a conversion roughly doubled the purchase price of a standard Ford or Mercury, so not very many Marmon-Herrington conversions were completed. The Mercurys, in particular, are extremely scarce, and according to RM Sotheby’s, only three Mercury wagons are known to have survived. This is represented as the last one and the only example from 1948.
Presale estimate: $30,000–$40,000
Built with a mix of Fiat 500 and 600 parts with a utilitarian yet adorable body, the Ferves Ranger is as charming as it is rare, with only about 50 examples left, according to RM Sotheby’s. This is a two-wheel drive example (four-wheel drive was available), but the sheer tininess of the thing means the Ranger won’t get bogged down too easily, and the body’s lack of overhangs makes it better off-road than you might think at first glance.
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $375,000–$450,000
A brilliant blend of sexy Ghia bodywork with Dodge underpinnings, the Ghia L6.4 (383 cubic inches in America-speak) cost as much as a house when it was new. The goal was to build 50 cars a year, but only 26 were completed and today there are just 17 thought to be left, according to Gooding & Company.
Given the massive sticker price and exclusivity, the Ghia naturally attracted celebrity owners, among whom were Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, and Dean Martin. This is the actual car owned by Dean Martin, who had George Barris personalize it with a special dash, storage locker between the seats, a gun holster under the driver’s seat, and Cibie headlamps. Barrett-Jackson sold it 20 years ago for just $66,000, and sold at Quail Lodge 10 years ago for $117,000.