GREENWICH, Ct.—Clark Gable’s Packard Darrin, the Rolls-Royce driven by Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby, President Woodrow Wilson’s Silver Ghost, and racing legend Fitch Whitmore’s Le Mans Special were hot lots at the annual Bonhams auction, held at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, June 7.
Bonhams’ tent bulged with crowds of collectors, movie buffs and the curious wanting a glimpse at the cars with notable movie connections. The sale featured the famed Ted Leonard collection, which was noted for exceptionally fine motorcars with celebrity pedigree.
The telephone banks were a buzz with bids coming in from all over the world including Japan, Austria, Holland, the U.K. and US collectors from the West Coast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Deep South.
The ex-Clark Gable 1938 Packard Eight Convertible Victoria sold for $282,000 to a private U.S. collector who beat out four bidders in the crowd.
The 1928 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom I Ascot Dual Cowl Sports Phaeton, from the 1974 motion picture The Great Gatsby, drew huge crowds during the auction preview days, and sold amidst thunderous applause to a telephone bidder, against several in the room – at $238,000. President Woodrow Wilson’s 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Oxford Touring Car, given to the president after he left office by supporters, went to a bidder in the room for $161,000.
“Collectors recognize that it is rare to see cars of this caliber, and history assembled in one sale, and the bidding action certainly demonstrated keen interest from around the world,” Rupert Banner, of Bonhams Manhattan Motorcars department said after the sale. “The sale also demonstrates that in this market, cautious pricing provides the best results.”
The top lot of the sale was a stunning 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio Drophead Coupe, which sold for $419,500. The crowd held their breath as intense bidding for this lot from collectors assembled under the tent and those on the telephone ended with the car going back to Europe. The highlight of the event though, was when racing legend John Fitch, aged 92, took the podium to give background information on his 1952 Fitch-Whitmore Le Mans Special, which lead a “charmed life” he said, to a standing ovation from the crowd. The car fetched $403,000.
“It was amazing to have this living legend join us at the event, and the crowd was thrilled to see him hop into his Le Mans Special – illustrating the spirit and sprite of someone far younger than his 92 years!” Mark Osborne, Bonhams’ West Coast motorcar specialist said. “A one-of-a-kind event certainly, and we are proud to add the excitement of the auction to the enjoyment of the famed Greenwich Concours d’Elegance.
Rarities were also highly desirable at the event, including a 1963 Porsche 356 Carrera 2 Convertible, one of only 28 built, which fetched $381,000 from a bidder under the tent. Concours condition offerings were also highly desirable with the bidders; a 1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster, refinished to a very high standard in its original colors of pastel green with a suede green interior sold for $106,470. The sale totaled nearly $5M, with number of entries and sale total comprising the largest auction event ever at the Greenwich venue.
Full results are available online at www.Bonhams.com.