American greats return for Motor City sale

| 16 Jul 2014

A vast offering of US classics – many of which were built in Detroit – will return to Motor City for RM Auctions' next sale, taking place on 26-26 July.

Leading the American charge, and highest estimated of the domestic offerings, is a 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Convertible Victoria with coachwork by Waterhouse. It is expected to reach up to $725,000.

The car is one of just three known survivors and its history can be traced back to 1939, when it was purchased by Calvin Collins. Incredibly, it survived numerous scrap drives during WW2 and lay dormant in the family barn for many years until its next owner, Scott Calvin finally began its restoration in 2009. The process took more than 6000 hours and landed the Imperial the Most Significant Chrysler in Show award at the Concours d'Elegance of America at St John's.

Also of note is the oldest four-cylinder Studebaker known to exist. The 1906 Model G Touring was in regular use for the first few years of its life until its second owner, retired physicist Nathan Wheeler, decided that it was too outdated for everyday use and put it into storage. It remained hidden away until the 1940s, when Henry Austin Clark Jr purchased the car for his Long Island Automotive Museum. Clark restored the Studebaker before selling it to renowned collector Bill Harrah in 1968. It is estimated at $325-450,000.

Motor City

A 1931 Cadillac V12 Convertible Coupe with coachwork by Fleetwood is set to cross the block for $275-325,000. The 368cu in, 150bhp classic has belonged to the same owner for the past 32 years, and in that time has been fully restored to concours level. Indeed, the car is a Classic Car Club of America Premier award winner after scoring the maximum 100 points at the three most recent events into which it has been entered.

The car is finished in two shades of crimson and is tastefully appointed with a tan leather interior. Its chrome wire wheels are shod with whitewall tyres, while a Goddess ornament adorns the bonnet.

Motor City

Rarer still is a 1940 Packard Custom Super Eight One Eighty Convertible with coachwork by Darrin, which is thought to be one of just nine survivors known to exist. The car was laid up on a peanut farm following a minor accident in 1951, and was rediscovered by Dr Richard Steiner, a dentist from Torrance who bought the car and undertook a full rebuild. Interestingly, Howard Darrin lived locally, and contributed his vast knowledge to the restoration.

The Packard remains in fine condition, recently winning the Michigan Grand Classic. It retains many of its original features, including driving lights, bumper guards, radio and Econo-Drive overdrive. It could fetch as much as $300,000.

Motor City

Despite being held in the cradle of the US motor industry, the sale also boasts a  number of British classics. Top of the foreign pile is a stunning 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Torpedo Tourer, which has royal connections. The $650-850,000 car was originally built for the Ruling Chief of Nandgaon, India and sports one-off bodywork by Barker. It went on to star in the August 1930 issue of The Autocar.

The Rolls-Royce was eventually bought by Ray Howard in 1966 and was shipped to Italy before being driven to England. It was then transported to Oregon, later travelling to Hawaii in Howard's retirement years, when he dismantled it in preparation for a restoration that never came.

Two further owners had better luck, with the car being rebuilt with the advice of Rolls-Royce expert John Fasal.

Motor City

Equally imposing is a 1911 Mercedes 38/70HP, which is estimated at $450-600,000. The Vanvooren-bodied tourer was commissioned for Colonel Samuel P Colt, nephew of the the famous arms manufacturer, for a grand tour of Europe in 1912.

The car survived use by the French military during the First World War before being transported back to America. Years of regular use followed until, in the early 1970s, it was partially destroyed by fire. A 12,000-hour restoration was ordered, which resulted in it being awarded the Ansel Adams Trophy at the 1994 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Motor City

One of the sale's highlights will come as a surprise to many, but not those who appreciate the connection both boat builder Gar Wood and motor manufacturer Scripps have with Motor City. The 1930 Gar Wood 28' Triple Cockpit Runabout "Katie's Choice" was built in Detroit, and is expected to sell for $250-300,000.

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The Runabout was originally built for Logan T Wood, one of Garfield Wood's eight brothers and the business talent who steered the company through the turbulent waters of the Great Depression.

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Click here for a full list of lots.