This is the time of year when my imagination takes me to Europe, as a spectator at the Monaco Grand Prix, and as an admirer of great classic cars at the Villa d'Erbe concours on the shores of Lake Como. I won't be attending either one due to a slight problem known as "lack of funds" but that won't stop me from dreaming. And it won't stop me from making fantasy bids at RM's Villa Erba auction, held in association with the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on May 25th.
The auction will be one to remember with only 40 of the very best classics sourced from around the world. I've chosen to feature four in today's blog, four that I'd be delighted to own, each one rare and unique. Leading off is the car shown up top, a 1929 Bentley 6½-Litre Sedanca de Ville by H.J. Mulliner. I have a special affection for any car born in the same year that I entered this world (yes, I'm that old/young) and this Bentley appeals to me for its elegance and for the statement it makes about its owner. It was Bentley's 1929 Olympia Motor Show car.
It has a single overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine with three SU carburetors, producing 180 bhp from 6,597 cc. A four-speed manual transmission, semi-elliptic front and rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes are part of the specification. The coachbuilder was H.J. Mulliner, of Chiswick, who designed it as a Sedanca de Ville with a Barker-patented "de Ville extension." Since 2007 the car has been on display at the Bentley factory in Crewe, as well as being shown in the Bentley Company's heritage museum.
No less than five Ferraris will be offered, including this 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta 'Competizione' by Pinin Farina, a car with a fabulous racing history. It was one of three works 375 MM competition cars entered at the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans as an integral part of Ferrari’s manufacturer's championship team. It raced at the 24 Hours of Spa and the Carrera Panamericana, and won the 12 Hours of Pescara. It is the only works race car to have been driven in the World Sports Car Championship by three World Champions: Hawthorn, Ascari, and Farina.
The impressive specifications include a 340 bhp, 4,494 cc overhead camshaft V-12 engine with triple Weber 40 IF/4C carburettors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with transverse leaf springs, live axle with parallel trailing arms and semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel drum brakes, and tubular steel frame. This fabulous Ferrari, a concours winner, has appeared at Pebble Beach, the Louis Vuitton Classic, and the Goodwood Revival.
If I were to bid on a car purely because of its appearance, I'd surely choose this 1930 Bugatti Type 46 Coupé Superprofilée. It was designed by Jean Bugatti, Ettore's son, who created some of the most beautiful cars the world has ever seen. It is based on the Type 41 Royale, a massive, ultra-luxurious car that Bugatti intended as the ultimate statement in motoring. The Type 46 retains some of the Royale's styling but in a more manageable size and a more affordable (relatively) price.
"La Petite Royale," as it is sometimes called, features a 140 hp, 5,359 cc SOHC inline eight-cylinder engine with three valves per cylinder, three-speed manual transmission, front semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension, rear inverted quarter-elliptic leaf spring suspension, and four-wheel cable-operated drum brakes. It rides on a substantial wheelbase of 138 inches.
While it's not unusual to see a Mercedes 300SL at an auction, you won't see one like this twice. The 1962 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster has not only enjoyed a 5-year comprehensive restoration, it has been upgraded with contemporary technology to make it suitable for everyday driving. This includes changes to the valves and valve seats for use with unleaded fuel; a "123" electronic ignition system developed by a Dutch firm for F1 racing; and "Easydrive" electric power steering. Easydrive uses a hidden computer-controlled electric motor to assist steering effort and is manually adjustable according to the driver’s preference.
Originally delivered in Switzerland, it also includes a factory hard top and a new set of fitted luggage by Karl Baisch. The 2,996 cc overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine produces 240 bhp, delivered through a 4-speed manual gearbox. A coil spring independent front suspension, coil spring single-point swing axle rear suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes complete the basic specifications. Some 300SL collectors may baulk at the changes made to this car but if it means being able to drive it almost anywhere, anytime, well, that makes sense to me.
As mentioned, these are just four outstanding classics out of forty to be auctioned, but RM has been wise enough to make the entire catalog available for downloading. So click here and enjoy yourself and if fortune allows you to be a real, live bidder, good luck. I can, by the way, make myself available for a ride in that beautiful Bentley, born in the same year.