The Rarest Cars at Scottsdale’s Auction Week Prize History Over Horsepower

Take a seat. These 5 cars all have stories to tell.

November 5, 2018 9:00 am

If you idea of R&R is 18 holes followed by a spa appointment, Scottsdale is tough to beat. And if your idea of R&R is spending a small fortune to acquire one of the rarest cars ever built, well, ditto.

For the uninitiated, Scottsdale hosts Arizona Auction Week every January. By which we mean car auctions, anchored by Barrett-Jackson’s long-running, weeklong sale, which turns 48 this year and takes place from January 12th through 20th.

It took a while for other auction houses to make their way to the desert, but the week now acts as a full-blown automotive pilgrimage: Bonhams is prepping for its 8th year, Gooding & Company its 12th and RM Sotheby’s is celebrating a respectable 20 years.

Take those four companies, add up all the cars hitting the auction block and you’ve got … way too many rare, classic and eccentric vehicles to keep track of. To whet your appetite and give you an idea of what to see (and spend your holiday bonus on), we’ve rounded up some history-rich classics that go beyond mere horsepower or spiffy restorations.

These numbers hold up on storytelling alone.

Photo via Bonhams

1952 Maserati A6G/2000 Spider with Coachwork by Frua
Auction house: Bonhams
Estimated price: $2.8-3.4 million, according to Forbes
Why it’s special: Not only is it one of three of its kind, its whereabouts were also unknown from 1954 to 1997. As Forbes tells it, that year some Dutch collectors were having dinner in California when their server mentioned she owned a “vintage Italian car.” Sure, sure, they said. But when she mentioned it was “a Maserati A6G Frua Spider,” she started a chain reaction that led to a Maserati-supervised restoration, concours circuit wins and, now, Scottsdale.

Photo via Barrett-Jackson

1965 Ford Mustang (First Pre-Production Hardtop)
Auction house: Barrett-Jackson
Estimated price: Contact Barrett-Jackson
Why it’s special: This is the first pre-production Mustang hardtop (yes, the car comes with a letter from Ford attesting to that) and one of three still intact from the company’s Pilot Plant. It has been fully restored “with all major components having matching numbers.” Should you be looking for an investment car, this one will see a bump this summer when it appears in Ford v. Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Buy it now, drive it to the theater in June.

Photo via Gooding & Company

1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8-Liter Roadster
Auction house: Gooding & Company
Estimated price: TBD, but G&C sold one for $320K at Amelia Island this year
Why it’s special: At press time, the auction house only has photos up of a few cars heading to sale, and no details beyond make and model. But you can bet when there’s a ‘61 Jaguar E-Type in (apparently) pristine condition, we’re going to tell you about it. As we’ve mentioned before, Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made” and MoMA has one in their permanent collection. What else do you need to know?

Photo: Robin Adams ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Salamanca aka “The Bullet Hole”
Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimated price: Offered without reserve, contact RM Sotheby’s
Why it’s special: OK, so this one’s not a daily driver. But the provenance alone makes it worth a trip to Scottsdale. In 1927, so says the listing, it was purchased by one Enoch “Nucky” Johnson — the Atlantic City boss Steve Buscemi plays in Boardwalk Empire. Documentation not good enough for you? This American-built “Springfield” model gets its nickname thanks to a bullet hole “from one of Mr. Johnson’s lucky escapes.”

Photo via Bonhams

1959 Lister-Jaguar Sports Racer
Auction house: Bonhams
Estimated price: $2-2.6 million, according to Forbes
Why it’s special: It’s got blue-and-white Cunningham stripes, a clear bubble panel in the hood to show off the 3.8-liter Jaguar straight six and coachwork by aerodynamicist-turned-automotive designer Frank Costin. But the racing pedigree is the main allure here, bought by legendary sportsman Briggs Cunningham for his team and driven by equally respected racers like Walt Hansgen and Stirling Moss.

Main photo via Bonhams

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