When the gavel fell at $1,985,000 (£1,527,277) for this 1948 Tucker 48, it became, by quite some margin, the priciest item at Bonhams’ two-day Tupelo Automobile Museum Auction.
Incredibly, every single one of the 500-plus lots on offer sold, raising in excess of $10m (£7.68m) for an education foundation.
In the presence of two of Preston Tucker’s great-grandsons, bidding began at $700,000 for the car that was one of seven Tuckers to undergo endurance testing at Indianapolis, with potential owners on the phone and in the room eventually pushing the price up to just shy of the $2m mark.
The sale – which included more than 170 cars and 330 pieces of automobilia – came about due to the closure of the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi, which accommodated the car collection of the late Frank Spain. It was his wish that the proceeds from such a sale would fund the charitable cause.
While the Tucker contributed the most to the fantastic total, a 1934 Duesenberg Model J wearing unique Prince of Wales Berline coachwork by Rollston achieved the next-highest price, selling for $450,500 (£346,618).
This was followed by the top European lot, a 1930 Hispano-Suiza H6B Coupé Chauffeur that’s been a Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance prize-winner, which went for $335,000 (£257,752).
Other interesting lots included a colourful, white and purple 1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Three Position Cabriolet, with coachwork by Veth & Zoon that achieved the auction’s fifth highest price at $196,000 (£150,804) and is thought to be the only surviving Talbot-Lago by this coachbuilder.
Number one in terms of British cars was a 1936 Lagonda LG45 Tourer that was apparently one of Spain’s favourites and which fetched US168,000 (£129,260).
Speaking of Brits, an iconic London Black Cab – a 1986 FTI FX4S London Sterling Taxi Cab, to be precise – was also in this sale and found a new home for $7840 (£6032).
A full century older – well, in conception, at least – was the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen Replica, sold for $56,000 (£43,086).
And two winning bidders have added more than a dash of colour to their collections with the pink ’51 Studebaker Starlight Coupe and lilac, two-tone 1932 Nash 1080 Special Eight Convertible Sedan with a pink-trimmed cabin, which finished at $16,800 (£12,926) and $84,000 (£64,630) respectively.
“This collection represents a lifetime of love and it’s bittersweet to see it go,” said Frank’s wife, Jane Spain, “but it’s the right decision and I know Frank would agree. Plus, we were only stewards of these great cars and it’s time for them to be enjoyed by others.”
“We’re delighted with the turnout and the results,” added auctioneer and Bonhams VP of Motoring, Rupert Banner. “The collection created by Spain over the decades was a cornucopia of wonderful machines representing the incredible evolution of the motorcar throughout the ages.”