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Home  /  November 2022  /  Comment

Look, I know we’re all going down the toilet together but that’s no reason to stop buying classic cars, which are clearly a better investment than Toorak bungalows, crypto (whatever that is), NFTs, coal and paintings.

So, this week RM Sotheby’s sold off the Paul Newman collection of race cars and race-related trinkets.

Having said he would quit “when I embarrass myself”, Paul took pole in his last professional race in a 520KW GT-1 Chevrolet Corvette. His car number was 82, his age. One year later, in 2008, his friends organised for him to do his last run at the Lime Rock track. He came close to his best ever time. He died one month later. Buy the new book on his 83 years: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir ($33).

Anyway, this week RM sold what they called “one of the most significant cars of the 20th century” from Paul’s collection. It’s the 1993 Lola-Ford Cosworth T93/00 Nigel Mansell drove to become the only simultaneous reigning champion of IndyCar and Formula 1. Local interest: first win was at the Australian FAI Indy Car Grand Prix at Surfers Paradise. Lucky buyer put out $1.5m to take it home. 

Next week it’s your classic car chance with the Shannon’s Spring Timed Auction online. Two I would recommend (because they are owned by friends – why get ripped off by a stranger when you can get done over by a mate?). First up the 1973 Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1 (ex-HDT rally car) road-registered with the plate HDT XU1, only 78,644 miles (no kilometres then). As owner Pete says: “Most XU-1s are lumpy, difficult beasts but my car is properly sorted and a credit to race car builder, the legendary Ron Missen”. A good buy around $130k.

Then there’s the 1988 Ford GT40 replica coupe for around $150k. A fabulous road and race car, perfect for Targa, this “GT40 must be one of the most accurate replicas in Australia and is priced well below the cost of building a similar car today”. I know how much work went into this and it’s a very serious car. It does need a bit of jeuje, zhoosh or zhuzh, but then again don’t we all?

All this begs the question: when will we see the first billion-dollar car sale?

Writing in Sports Car Digest, Djordje Sugaris tells us: “When Mercedes-Benz and RM Sotheby’s confirmed the rumours about a one-of-two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut coupe being auctioned off on May 5, 2022 for a staggering sum of $200m, it … obliterated the 2018 record of the Ferrari 250, becoming the first nine-figure car in history”.

Djorde reckons “the most astonishing automotive creation of all time and potentially the most valuable car in the world, the Bugatti 57SC Atlantic, has all it takes to reach a billion dollars. The last time one of these changed hands was in 2010, when Gooding Co brokered a deal between Bugatti collector Dr Peter D. Williamson’s estate and Mullin Automotive museum at somewhere between $52m and $60m for the 57 374 Rothschild Atlantic … that price seems like a bargain.”

Talking of marathons, we have a heap of readers in the top-secret Perth to Sydney Marathon. Recreating the original 1968 London-Sydney Marathon (except it doesn’t start in London), it meanders along the same dirt-filled route, 5700km across the North Island of Australia for 10 days. Top three 53 years ago were Andrew Cowan’s Hillman Hunter, Paddy Hopkirk’s Austin 1800 and Ian Vaughan’s Falcon GT.

Our secret correspondent in the very brown car tell us that on day two from Southern Cross to Lake King then on to Norseman, they passed the 2022 Tesla by the first 50km and didn’t see it again. Probably charging (in a bad way).

Remember last week we talked about Hass protesting Ferdy Alonso for driving with a broken mirror in the US GP? Another new race director waited till after the race to hit Ferdy with a 30-second penalty moving him from seventh to 15th. You won’t be surprised to know that after a protest race officials changed their minds (again) and put him back to seventh. You also won’t be surprised to know Ferrari’s Carl Sainz couldn’t get out of his car after Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix. Carl had parked his car, was lighting up a gasper while trying to remove his head and neck safety device (HANS) which attaches his helmet to the cockpit’s opening. He couldn’t get out. He needed two mechanics to extricate him. Not great if the Feezer was on fire.

Of course, much more exciting and safer racing at next Saturday’s Motor Racing Australia’s MX-5 Cup. The Herring brothers have only two cars entered so your WART team must be chance.

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