Bonhams' Greenwich auction will show Italian raritiesWed, 02 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0700
The biggest star of Bonhams' seventh annual Greenwich auction will be the 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopica shown above, a pristine early example of the legendary wedge with a single owner and less than 10,500 miles -- its roof carried a groove cut into the sheetmetal that allowed light to hit the rearview mirror, providing a still-laughable semblance of rearward visibility. Of course, the door is always preferable. Just 158 LP400 Countachs were ever produced, before the firm moved on in 1978 to the outrageously styled LP400S. Last year, an LP400 of similar vintage and condition set a Countach record when it sold for $836,000 at a Bonhams auction at the Quail Lodge. This one is expected to bring a not insignificant amount itself -- estimated at $450,000 to $550,000.
Similar in Italian-ness is the 1959 Fiat Abarth 750 Record Monza Zagato Bialbero, a designation that takes three deep breaths to spit out. It's simple, really. On the Fiat Abarth 750, Carlo Abarth wrung out the power, Zagato designed the curvaceous body and Fiat supplied the 600 chassis, the engine and the cash. "Bialbero" means twin-cam in Italian, and Abarth designed a double-overhead cam head for the little 747cc engine. Zagato's rare, lightweight Record Monza bodywork allowed the car to clock in at just over 1,190 pounds.
Team Roosevelt campaigned it at the 1959 12 Hours of Sebring before the car was lost for the next 30 years. In the '80s, the car saw a full restoration; since then, it has continued to race in vintage events, including at nearby Lime Rock Park. The number crunchers at Bonhams figure it will fetch a minimum of $175,000.
The Fiat 750 Abarth retired from racing last decade for a full mechanical restoration.
Among the rest of the lineup are a mix of the eclectic and the accessible. Volvo, true New England as it is, makes a showing with an 1800ES -- if anything, you could pick one up for what a BMW 3-series went for five years ago. There's a Jaguar E-type, a Series I from 1964 with a matching hardtop. A Chrysler Town & Country convertible in minty green with wood paneling is no match for our LeBaron. Rounding out the selection are a Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser and a 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 known as the "Adenauer," as the preferred ride of Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of postwar Germany. The latter two may pique the interest of a certain Jonathan Ward.
The Bonhams Greenwich auction will take place on Sunday, June 1, during the second day of the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance in Connecticut. Our man Jay Ramey will be covering the concours, as well as the auction proceedings, as he did last year and "literally sleeping in the auction tent." Dedication knows no tax bracket.
By Blake Z. Rong