As Amelia Island approaches, we sit back and wonder where is the collector car market going next? As usual we have the big three, as we call them here at Driven, RM Sothebys, Gooding & Company and Bonhams along with a couple of much smaller auction companies down at Amelia competing to see who can sell more and who can have the biggest and most successful sale. At a quick glance of all three of those big sales RM seems to have the most significant cars followed by Gooding and Bonhams. RM was lucky enough to get the Orin Smith collection which has many great cars including a Pininfarina bodied Lancia Astura cabriolet, a 1914 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Tourer and a few other cars of significance. They also have a well-known Isotta Fraschini 8A tourer by Castagna, the ex- Claude Decoster and ex-Manny and George Dragone 1938 Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet by Vanvooren and many other very good cars. Gooding also has a fun lineup of cars for their sale, very saturated with common cars, but his significant cars are very good. For example, Gooding is offering a Jaguar XKSS which is a pretty big deal. If you are looking for Porsche than this is where you want to be. Bonhams also is bringing some great cars to the table including a 1911 Pierce Arrow model 48 Touring car, the ex-Bob Mead 1914 Lancia Roadster, and a 1938 Talbot Lago T150 cabriolet. These cars and a few more of the significant cars from each auction will be covered over the next week leading up to the auctions in Amelia. We will discuss each car that we think are significant and in some cases we know more about the histories of each of these cars than is admitted or discussed by the auction companies in their descriptions. Check back each day if you want to learn about these cars and see what we think about them and what they are worth.
To begin, today we will cover one of the great cars from the RM Sothebys sale, and one of our favorites out of all of the cars offered during the Amelia weekend, the 1933 Isotta Fraschini 8A tourer by Castagna. This car is not only beautiful and sporty, but most importantly it has a very good history. Beginning life as the 1933 Paris motor show car it went on to be delivered new in New York and then later it had a great run being owned by the famed Pacific Auto Rentals and used in many great movies cast first alongside Ilona Massey and Peter Lorre in Invisible Agent (1942). It next appeared as one of the stars of Without Reservations (1946),
in which John Wayne and Claudette Colbert buy it early in the picture and proceed to drive it in many scenes thereafter. Publicity photographs of Wayne and Colbert with the car on set were widely distributed. Other appearances included Mr. Imperium (1951) and the Ben Hogan biopic, Follow the Sun (1951). Even the 1941 horror film, The Wolf Man, included the Isotta Fraschini. The car’s most famous appearance, however, was in the 1956 film “Giant” in which it speeds along the Texas plains against a background of dutifully pumping oil derricks, driven by none other than James Dean.
The car later went on to be owned by great collectors starting in the 1960’s. First acquired by Matt Browning, then on to Otis Chandler, and later Peter J. Ministrelli. This is a wonderfully fantastic car that deserves a great home. We have seen this car in person a few times, the last time a few years ago at Pebble Beach. RM describes the car as having an older restoration, but it really doesn’t matter, as when we saw it last it still looked very nice with good paint and chrome. It was a bit warn in a few places with some hazing on some of the bright work, but overall it was very good. The only other slight downfall of this car is it is just an 8A, not an 8ASS which have the dual updraft carburetors and dual exhaust. Regardless, this history is fantastic and the car itself is even better. If we had to take away one car from this entire weekend this would be it.
This car was sold publically once before by Gooding & Co in 2009 where it sold for $1,089,000. It can be found here on RM’s website with an estimate of $800,000 – $1,100,000. We think this is a bit low and it should bring in the $1,500,000 range maybe a bit more. Even though it brought less at Gooding in 2009 that was a different time and a different market. The prewar stuff is coming back and this is a great car.
Remember we will be picking out cars each day and letting you know what we think so check back tomorrow for the next one!