Two incredible pre-war sports cars are set to go head-to-head at Bonhams’ Scottsdale auction on 19 January 2017, and are expected to fetch a cumulative total of £7,500,000.
First up is the ‘Car of Kings’, a 1928 Mercedes-Benz Type S 26/120/180 Supercharged Sports Tourer, clothed in stunning Erdmann & Rossi bodywork. The 180bhp tourer made its debut at the Nurburgring in 1927, where it won its class with Caracciola at the wheel. In the States, Ralph de Palma drove an ’S’ to victory in the 15 and 30-mile races at Atlantic City, averaging 80mph.
Each car cost an eye-watering $7000 without coachwork, yet Mercedes still managed to strike a chord with well-heeled customers, including the Marx brothers, Sir Malcolm Campbell and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As the Great Depression began to bite, however, sales slowed. In total, the firm produced just 174 examples.
In 1929, Bonhams’ example was delivered new to an unknown customer in New York. Little is known about its early life other than that it was well cared for, judging by its fine condition after being found by H Edward White in the early 1960s. Within a few years the car had passed to noted car sleuth Ben Moser, who sold it on before the end of the decade.
Eventually, the Mercedes made its way to San Antonio-based collector Ed Swearingen, who commissioned a stunning restoration good enough to take a class victory and Gwen Graham Award for Most Elegant Open Car at its Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance debut in 1996.
Don’t be surprised if this tidy example achieves its pre-sale upper estimate of £4,800,000 – Bonhams sold a similar unrestored and lightly modified example as recently as 2012 that brought in £2.8m.
Set to rival the Mercedes is a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Supercharged Gran Sport Spider, which is expected to fetch between £2,300,000 and £2,700,000.
The Zagato-bodied beauty was sold new to Gustav Eisenmann, a Swiss paper manufacturer who owned the car until 1947. It then passed through the hands of a small number of owners, during which time it was painted red, before being bought by Robert Hamil, who had the car shipped to California.
It presents an exciting opportunity to participate in the Mille Miglia Storica retrospective.