Ferrari flies

Michael Schumacher Grand Prix car lifts the bar for modern F1

Michael Schumacher’s 2001 Monaco GP-winning car set a world record for a modern-era Ferrari of $7.5m in November – and confirmed a shift towards seeing cars as art. It was listed in RM Sotheby’s contemporary art sale, while in December top-rank machinery such as a 1952 Jaguar C-type driven by Phil Hill (estimate: $5.5-7m) and a 1959 Ferrari 250GT California which bagged fifth at Le Mans (estimate: $14-17m) are catalogued among wine and sculpture in its Icons auction.

Arizona’s Scottsdale Collector Car Week is the next pivot in the auction year, with sales by Gooding, RM Sotheby’s, Worldwide, Russo & Steele, Barrett-Jackson and Bonhams.

Worldwide’s January 17 sale features two Indycars: Smokey Yunick’s first Indy 500 entry, a 1957 Kurtis Kraft roadster which finished fifth that year, and a 1969 AAR Eagle Santa Ana, another 500 finisher for Joe Leonard in sixth. Both have appeared at Goodwood.

Two days on, Gooding & Co offers some premier vehicles including a Maserati Ghibli Spider, a 1977 Khamsin and a ’74 Bora, plus a highly unusual French racer – a 1956 Deutsch-Bonnet HBR5. Formerly owned by legendary industrial designer Brooks Stevens, this lightweight device with glassfibre body and 850cc Panhard flat-twin engine raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1957, though it failed to finish. Also rare is a Bristol 402 cabriolet, the roof lopped off its Touring Superleggera coachwork to let the occupants enjoy summer.

‘A Century of Sportscars’ is the theme of RM Sotheby’s sale at Phoenix, and the prime interest centres on an Alfa Romeo that is almost a century old – the only remaining 1921 G1 (right), first model to add the ‘Romeo’ to Alfa. These 6.3-litre six-cylinder cars were apparently sold only to Australia, and this was abandoned on a farm before being rescued and rebuilt as a two-seat sportster. As the oldest Alfa Romeo in existence this is a unique machine, which has starred at Pebble Beach and Goodwood.

Two more Alfas illustrate the mid-century styling shift from wings to enveloping bodywork: a 1942 6C 2500 SS resembling an 8C 2900B (estimate: $0.9-1.1m) and a one-off 1900C SS (left) clothed by Boano for the 1955 Turin Motor Show Estimate: $1.25-1.75m. Among Ferraris on offer, a 1964 250GT Cabriolet is rated at $1.4-1.8m while a 250GT/L Lusso should make a little more.

Barrett-Jackson lists a wide spread of US metal, including the prototype Shelby GT350 Mustang (above right), sporting a unique blue vinyl roof that was briefly considered for production, and a 470bhp Chevrolet Biscayne (right) with a drag racing history, refinished in its original signage. Among Europeans there’s an outrageous Saoutchik-bodied 1951 Talbot-Lago, whose swooping curves have netted it a class win at Pebble Beach.

Back at home, November’s H&H sale at Duxford proved Ford Capris are rising – a 70,000-mile 3.0S exceeded estimates at £22,218, though a 1974 RS3100 hit its low-end estimate at £46,125 – yet a 1958 Bentley S1 closed at £15,750.

At the NEC Classic Show, Silverstone Auctions also saw Fords soar – to £97,875 for a 1980 RS2000 and £91,000 for a 1996 Escort Cosworth Lux with 837 miles on the clock.

In February major buyers and sellers head for Paris and the Rétromobile show and sales that kick off the European season. Look out for some special machinery. After that, Race Retro, Warks, features Silverstone Auctions’ racing and classic car sales on February 23.