Classic car heaven: A few gems from the annual Scottsdale auctions

Classic car heaven: A few gems from the annual Scottsdale auctions
This ultra-rare 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail is being offered by Santa Monica-based Gooding & Co. at the annual Scottsdale auctions in Ariz. The pre-sale estimate on this car is $5 million to $7 million. (Gooding & Co.)

January on the classic car calendar means collectors from around the world -- and their checkbooks -- head to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the car auctions the sun-drenched city hosts each year.

Auction houses like Barrett-Jackson, Russo and Steele, Gooding and Co., and RM Auctions all set up shop and host single or multiday auctions. Barrett-Jackson is the granddaddy of the Scottsdale sales in terms of volume of cars sold. Its auctions began on Tuesday and run through Sunday. During that span, more than 1,500 vehicles will find new homes. Russo and Steele's sale runs from Wednesay to Sunday, RM's auction is Thursday and Friday, and Gooding's is Friday and Saturday.


In all, about $224 million worth of gleaming metal changed hands at last year's Scottsdale auctions, according to Hagerty Insurance, which tracks and insures the classic car market. That was the strongest showing in years, and the company expects the 2014 sales to at least match, if not top that figure.

With so much money spent on the cars of yesterday, we took a look at some of the notable and interesting pieces of machinery that will be available at the 2014 Scottsdale sales.

1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail

With a production-series F1 road car pulling in $8.47 million at Gooding and Co.'s 2013 Pebble Beach auction, it's no stretch to think the company will get the $5 million-$7 million winning bid it expects for this car.

This McLaren F1 GTR Longtail is supremely rare, as it's one of only two such McLaren race cars from the 1997 season to wear the Fina livery. The car racked up numerous podium victories that season, and has been meticulously maintained after its racing season.

The GTR Longtail cars were developed specifically for the 1997 season after rules were changed for the FIA GT championship, and included extensive modifications from the base F1 street cars. The carbon fiber monocoque tub remained, but the nose and tail were entirely new and designed to exert as much downforce on the car as possible.

Weighing a scant 2,000 pounds, this GTR Longtail was powered by a 604-horsepower, 6.0-liter BMW V-12 engine and a six-speed sequential transmission. Like all McLaren F1 road cars (still considered to this day to be among the best-handling cars ever built) the driver sits in the center of the GTR Longtail, for optimal weight balance.

The suspension on the GTR Longtails was upgraded, additional components were replaced with carbon fiber versions to cut weight, Brembo carbon fiber disc brakes were installed, and a reworked electrical system also was added.

This McLaren is not street legal as you might imagine, but that doesn't mean it's content to spend its days as a wallflower in a private collection. The previous owner would often take it out on the track or enter it in historic races, a pastime Gooding says it would expect the new owner to do too.

1929 Bentley 4½-liter Tourer by Vanden Plas

For decades in the classic car world, it was the pristine, immaculately restored vehicles that commanded the most attention -- and money -- at auctions like those in Arizona. But recently that trend has been changing as collectors are finding trunkfuls of charm in original, untouched cars, regardless of their condition. Prices have correspondingly been on the rise, as car fans realize these patina-laden copies are becoming harder and harder to find.

Thus, the 1929 Bentley 4.5-liter Tourer by Vanden Plas offered by RM Auctions is an interesting vehicle to watch. Wearing the original engine, bodywork, gearbox, and even the Connolly leather inside, this Bentley is as original as they come. Still in excellent running order, the car has a 4.4-liter, four-cylinder, engine that pushes about 100 horsepower to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission.

The car had a pre-sale estimate of $1.8 million-$2.2 million.


1961 Bentley S2 Continental Flying Spur

Not only is this Bentley in beautifully running order, but its longest running owner was a name you might recognize. Celebrating the release of "To Kill a Mockingbird," actor Gregory Peck bought this car barely used in 1962, RM Auctions said. He would own it for 34 years before selling it in 1996.

In that time this Bentley was no garage queen, as Peck amassed some 84,000 miles on the car. The subsequent owner then had a body-up restoration done to bring the car to its current state. This Bentley is one of only 52 such models built with the left-hand drive configuration. The rear-wheel-drive sedan is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 that makes around 200 horsepower and it comes with a four-speed automatic transmission.

This car has a pre-sale estimate of $225,000-$300,000.

2001 Mitsubishi Evo from "2 Fast 2 Furious"

Another car that had a brush with a Hollywood actor has already been sold at Scottsdale, though with somber overtones. Barrett-Jackson sold a customized 2001 Mitsubishi Evo that was driven by the late actor Paul Walker in "2 Fast 2 Furious," the second film in the "Fast and Furious" movie franchise.

Walker and a friend were killed in November when the Porsche Carrera GT they were riding in lost control and crashed on a suburban street. While Walker -- an avid car fan -- did not actually own this Mitsubishi, it is the principle car used for close-up shots and has fewer than 900 original miles on the odometer, Barrett-Jackson said.

While the Evo VIII didn't officially come to the U.S. market until 2003, when the "2 Fast 2 Furious" film was released, this model is a Japanese-spec Evo VII. It was imported legally into the U.S. for filming, and comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, all-wheel-drive, Brembo disc brakes and a five-speed manual transmission.

The car was offered at no reserve and sold for $46,000, Barrett-Jackson said.