Wetanson to Sell Two Unique Customs and an XKSS at The Petersen
After decades spent amassing one of the most significant private collections in the world, restaurant magnate Herb Wetanson has decided to bring three of his most unique and collectable cars to auction at RM Sotheby’s December 8, 2018 auction at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California. The vehicles Wetanson will be offering include a Lynx-built Jaguar XKSS that is nearly identical to the storied Steve McQueen-owned model that resides in the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles museum, a 1941 Mercury custom-built by Coachcraft with exceptional provenance and a 1940 Mercury custom inspired by some of the most iconic full customs of all time. Combined, the cars are estimated to bring between $775,000 and $1,025,000.
“Each of these cars has a wonderful story and I will miss them deeply, but it has come time to let them go,” said Wetanson. “I’ve had the pleasure of owning some of the all-time greats and these three are up there. I owned the very first XKSS produced, chassis #701 and the Lynx car drives just as well with a fraction of the stress. The Coachcraft Mercury is so special, I have owned it twice and the Rudy Rodriguez Mercury was a labor of love.”
1941 Mercury “Stengel” Custom by Coachcraft – $250,000 – $350,000 – Lot 172
Easily one of the most significant Mercury Customs ever built, this Coachcraft creation was a design and engineering marvel among custom cars of the era. Built in 1941 just blocks from where the Petersen Museum now stands by a coachbuilder known for its bespoke bodies crafted for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, the car started life as a then-new 1941 Mercury Convertible. Legendary Los Angeles-based builder Coachcraft created the car in its second year of business and helped usher in a new era of American automotive culture with this car at the forefront. Its unique three position roof is most notable making the car a coupe, Sedanca de Ville with full enclosure “T” Tops or full convertible depending on your mood. Original sketches for the car were done by the iconic coachbuilder Dutch Darrin, a part-owner of Coachcraft at the time. The descendants of some of the original owners still own and operate the business today, nearly 80 years later. Wetanson sold the car once before, but later regretted the decision. After placing a classified ad looking for the car, its owner responded and Wetanson was able to own it once again. It has since undergone a full restoration and looks now as it did in 1941.
Among its many modifications is a bespoke side window mechanism which lowers the vent and door windows at the same time creating a minimalist line with no interruption when the top is down. The hood is sectioned and lowered, windshield raked back and the front fender has been reworked for a simpler look as well. The Mercury also features completely custom wheel covers with concentric ribbing and a chrome finish. It is powered by an Eddie Meyer designed and built ’41 Flathead V-8 with high-compression heads and two Stromberg 97 carburetors. It has covered just 41,000 miles in the last 80 years and remains one of the most sought-after customs of its era. Among the cars many achievements are an appearance at the illustrious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and display at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
1940 Mercury Coupe Custom by Rudy Rodriguez – $125,000 – $175,000 – Lot 170
This Rudy Rodriguez creation is one of the most beautiful Mercury customs built to date. It started life as a pristine ’40 Mercury Coupe with just 50,000 original miles before going under the knife. Heavy modifications inspired by famous full customs like the Matranga, Hirohata and Sam Barris Mercs were made to nearly entire body and the result is an elegant but quintessentially American coupe. The custom is one of the finest machines to leave Rodriguez’s shop, Fullerton Fabrication.
The roof line is one of the most striking modifications with nine-inches cut down in the rear and five-inches in the front. With the windows now much smaller than original, Fullerton Fabrication extended the side windows further back into the roofline. The window frames, jewel moldings and exterior trim pieces were also custom made to fit the new openings. The grille was also handmade, along with the hood latch. The nose was also heavily reworked to fit the new modifications. Under the hood sits a Tatum-built Flathead V-8 connected to a Columbia two-speed rear end. The interior was finished to the standards of the best European cars of the era with Aston Martin green leather seats and door inserts with a black Mercedes-Benz headliner.
Since its completion in 2011, the ’40 Mercury has been featured in numerous magazines including an appearance on the cover of “Rod & Customs” in June 2011. The car was the first ’40 Mercury built by the shop and remains one of the most sought-after examples to leave Fullerton Fabrication.
The three Herb Wetanson collection cars will be sold at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California on December 8, 2018. The auction is the first at the newly redesigned museum in the heart of the city. The cars will be offered alongside other legendary automobiles such as the Lamborghini Miura SV and the Ferrari 290 MM.