A 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione and 1952 Jaguar C-Type will headline the 2017 RM Sotheby’s New York City auction, scheduled for December 6th at Sotheby’s headquarters in Manhattan.
Luigi Chinetti was one of the major players in the U.S. sports car racing scene in the late 1950s and early ’60s. He was a highly successful racing driver in his own right, the official Ferrari distributor for the U.S. East Coast, and the man behind the fabled North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.). Chinetti and N.A.R.T. entered a trio of Ferraris in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans; a 250 Testa Rossa, a 250 GT LWB Berlinetta, and a 250 GT LWB California Spider, chassis 1451 GT — the car set for RM Sotheby’s third New York sale, entitled ICONS.
The second of eight California Spiders bodied in aluminum and built to full competizione specifications, the 250 GT was piloted at Le Mans by owner Bob Grossman, a successful sports car dealer based in Rockland County, New York. The car left the factory just five days before Le Mans, arriving with a flash of paint covering the primer and unfinished seats covered with rags. In both Grossman and the Ferrari’s very first outing at the Circuit de la Sarthe, he and co-driver Fernand Tavano landed in an impressive 5th overall and 3rd in their class.
After Le Mans, 1451 GT was properly finished in metallic silver and shipped to Grossman’s home in New York. He immediately returned the car to the track, racing in SCCA events at Thompson, Bridgehampton and the Watkins Glen Grand Prix before shipping it to Nassau for Speed Week, where it clinched 1st overall in the Memorial Trophy race.
The California Spider left Grossman’s care after the 1960 season, and passed through a handful of American owners before landing with Jon Masterson of California, who commissioned a complete restoration, which earned the car 1st in Class honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car never remained shy for long, returning to Pebble Beach in 1994, running the Colorado Grand, and racing at the Monterey Historics on four separate occasions.
Purchased by its current owner in 2007, the Classiche-certified California Spider continued to make the rounds in events before another full restoration was completed in 2011 by Motion Products, returning the car to its proper Le Mans livery. The restoration earned 1451 GT a platinum award at the 2011 Cavallino Classic, and it has been shown at a handful of events ever since. The California Spider is estimated to bring $14,000,000 – $17,000,000 at the 2017 RM Sotheby’s New York City auction.
Joining the California Spider in Manhattan is another car whose reputation was built at Le Mans, a 1952 Jaguar C-Type, chassis XKC 007. Three factory C-Types debuted at Le Mans in 1951, with one of the cars going on to become the first British car to win the race in nearly two decades. Jaguar reprised the win with a second Le Mans victory two years later, and in the meantime approximately 43 customer cars were built, with XKC 007 being the seventh. Believed to be the first C-Type to reach the U.S., XKC 007 was delivered new to Charles Hornburg’s West Coast distributor, and was retained for competition and promotional purposes, most notably at the hands of driver Phil Hill.
The C-Type debuted at Elkhart Lake in September 1952, with Phil Hill actually driving the car from California to Wisconsin and back for the race. Hill finished 4th in the main event and won the Sheldon Cup outright — securing the first win by a C-Type on American soil. The Jaguar passed through a string of owners, who also raced the car, before landing with Jeffrey Pattinson of the U.K., who commissioned a full restoration by Jaguar specialist Terry Larson.
XKC 007 was eventually sold to collector Gary Bartlett of Indiana, who retained Chris Keith-Lucas to prepare the car for vintage events, including the 2010 Mille Miglia Storico and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Under current ownership, the Jaguar has continued to enjoy a life of pampered care and maintenance and is notably documented with a copy of an original factory test report for this chassis, C-Type registry histories, and restoration invoices. The C-Type is estimated to bring $5,500,000 – $7,000,000 at the 2017 RM Sotheby’s New York City auction.
“Both the Competition California Spider and the C-Type represent two of the most important vintage race cars found in the United States today and are offered from an exceptional collection,” commented Donnie Gould, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s. “Apart from the original three Jaguar Works cars, the C-Type on offer is easily the best and most desirable of the customer cars, while the 250 GT LWB is one of the most successful and significant competition California Spiders. The pair are perfectly at home in our New York sale as true icons from the golden era of sports car racing.”
The California Spider and C-Type lead a group of 31 automobiles set for the 6 December 2017 sale, from Classic Era through to the advanced supercars of today. Highlights include:
1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe, chassis 144 859, one of eight surviving authentic examples (Est. $1,000,000 – $1,200,000);
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, chassis 198.040.5500593, a restored example of the first sports car (Est. $1,300,000 – $1,500,000) and a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, chassis 198.042.7500649, the last complete restoration to leave Rudi & Company’s British Columbia workshop (Est. $1,250,000 – $1,500,000, without reserve);
1965 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible, chassis DB5C/1923/L, a factory left-hand-drive convertible example (Est. $2,450,000 – $2,650,000);
1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta, chassis 12301, both the final prototype and the first production Daytona (Est. $1,400,000 – $1,700,000);
1990 Ferrari F40, chassis 87144, (Est. $1,200,000 – $1,400,000); and,
Group of modern hypercars including a delivery mileage 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari, chassis 204687, (Est. $3,250,000 – $3,750,000), a one-of-100 2014 Pagani Huayra, chassis 078, (Est. $1,900,000 – $2,300,000), and a 248mph 2018 Bugatti Chiron, chassis 069, the first Chiron ordered for the U.S. market (Est. $3,500,000 – $4,000,000).