Champion Porsche triumphs at Bonhams Quail Motorcar auction
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Champion Porsche triumphs at Bonhams Quail Motorcar auction
1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder, sold for $2,232,500. Photo: Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- An ultra-rare and champion racer 1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder took the chequered flag at Friday’s (August 14) Bonhams Quail Motorcar Auction, selling for $2,232,500, the top lot in the auction house’s live and online sale hosted in its Los Angeles saleroom.

One of only 34 built, this rarity was ordered new by noted New Jersey motorsport enthusiast, Bernie Vihl. It was extensively campaigned by legendary Porsche driver Bob Holbert at numerous SCCA and international events, securing multiple wins, including the 1959 Bahamas Speed Week, where the ‘Giant Killer’ – as it was known – stormed to first place in the debut Governors Trophy race.

The Spyder was offered in the sale following nearly 50 years in the possession of its third owner. It remains in the U.S. following a tense bidding battle at the Bonhams sale.

Joining the Porsche on the saleroom ‘podium’ was a classic of the future, a 2014 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, which sold for $1,750,000. An even rarer machine, which had only covered 400 miles since new, this was the only US-spec version of three ‘Meo Costantini’ special editions, honouring the head of the firm’s factory team and winner of the Targa Florio and paying homage to the fabled Type 35, with a unique livery and motifs on the bodywork and interior depicting the glory days of Bugatti racing.

The figurative third place step was taken by a beautifully restored 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SC Roadster which achieved $951,000. This example of the most exclusive Mercedes of the post-war era, owned by Cary Grant and the Aga Khan, was the Best in Show at Santa Barbara following a total ‘nut and bolt’ restoration in the 1990s. The quality of the work has stood the test of time.

European exotica from all eras completed the top ten lots, including a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GTC ‘Coupe Royale’ by Carrozeria Touring, which sold for $582,500. One of very few surviving Touring 6Cs with original coachwork and matching numbers, the 6C was restored in the 1990s by Dino Cognolato and Gianni Trelli, second generation of Touring’s founding designer, and was a class winner at the Louis Vuitton Classic in Paris.

Other Porsches enjoying success in the Bonhams saleroom were a 1957 356A 1500 Carerra GS which achieved $428,500 and a 1964 901 Coupe which realised $340,500.

Rupert Banner, Bonhams auctioneer and Group Motoring Director, said: “Our live and online format is an innovative response to the global situation regarding Covid-19, and combines the best of both worlds. Interested clients previewed the majority of the cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum, as well as in New York and at other locations around the country. It led to a lot of interest and resulted in spirited domestic and international bidding, online and by telephone.”

Jakob Greisen, Bonhams Vice President and Head of US Motoring added: “This sale shows that the interest in collectors’ motorcars is as strong as ever and good examples of rare and pedigreed vehicles from all eras are attracting strong bids from passionate collectors around the world.

“We are delighted to have played a part in the virtual Petersen Car Week and are grateful to the Petersen Automotive Museum for their support in facilitating our Los Angeles previews.”

“While we missed being in Monterey, we look forward to working with the team at Quail Lodge and Peninsula Signature Events next year.”

The final two Bonhams auctions in the U.S. Calendar will take place at the Simeone Foundation Auto Museum on October 4, and the Barber Motorsports Museum on October 10.

Consignments are still invited for these and for Bonhams’ forthcoming sales in the UK and Europe, including The Autoworld Autumn Sale on September 6, The Bonmont Sale on September 20, The Zoute Sale and The Goodwood Speedweek Sale on October 9 and 17 respectively.

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