Mar­ket high­light

The auc­tion hall beck­ons for this former Peb­ble Beach win­ner, but who’s buy­ing?

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents -

Si­mon Kidston’s ex­plains why it’ll take the right kind of rich to bring home RM’S Peb­ble Beach-win­ning Mercedes Saoutchik Tor­pedo Road­ster

The 1929 Mercedes-benz S-type Tor­pedo Road­ster by Saoutchik soon to head­line RM’S Villa Erba auc­tion doesn’t lack wow fac­tor. But is there still a mar­ket for such cars? We asked K500’s Si­mon Kidston. ‘Pres­tige? The three-pointed star needs no com­ment. Power? 6.9 litres, su­per­charged for good mea­sure, and the longest bon­net you’ll ever sit be­hind un­less you fly a Messer­schmitt. Sex ap­peal? Two-seater styling by an ex­ot­i­cally named Rus­sian émi­gré, adorned with nickel-plated ac­ces­sories, trimmed with the skins of 760 lizards set be­hind an im­pos­si­bly low ‘pil­lar­box’ wind­screen.

‘Its prove­nance is pure mo­tor­ing din­ner party heaven. Com­mis­sioned by a shady New York avi­a­tion pioneer who couldn’t pay for it, bought from the NYC Mercedes show­room by a dash­ing young heir to the Rock­e­feller for­tune and re­tained af­ter his death by his fam­ily un­til 2005, ev­ery day of its life is known.

‘I’ve par­tic­i­pated in two auc­tions where it was sold – first at Peb­ble Beach and lat­terly in Paris – and in re­cent years it’s called one of the world’s great­est US col­lec­tions home. Su­per­star re­storer Paul Rus­sell took two years and prob­a­bly as many mil­lions of dol­lars to re­turn it to its orig­i­nal per­fec­tion, and the re­sult was the ul­ti­mate col­lec­tors’ tro­phy – Best of Show at the Peb­ble Beach Con­cours d’el­e­gance.’

So why has it been on the mar­ket qui­etly for a year with no tak­ers? ‘Af­ter Peb­ble and Villa d’este, where else do you show it? Too large and pris­tine for many ral­lies, too old and heavy for the new gen­er­a­tion of buy-to-in­vest play­ers, and no longer an un­seen vir­gin, it’s not what’s hot today. But for real con­nois­seurs, who are rare, with very deep pockets – rarer still – this is an op­por­tu­nity not to miss. Its bil­lion­aire owner is known for tak­ing big losses on the chin when re­quired. For Fer­rari SWB money, one lucky man will be go­ing home with a unique piece of his­tory.’

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