Auction Classic: Arizona 2023 – Best Of The Rest, part 2 of 2


I would have preferred to wrap up this series of articles on the January Arizona auctions by March or April but for my regrettable lack of writing time forcing a more relaxed schedule. No matter, it’s not like they are any less lust worthy a few months later. There was no lack of great cars, a carefully chosen selection I’ve submitted to CC readers for your perusal and, hopefully, enjoyment. In this last installment we’ll look at part 2 of restored (or unspecified condition) non-GM cars.As in part 1,  They are presented in no particular order of year or brand. As always, take or leave my commentary, click on auction links for more pictures and info, or just scroll through the pretty pictures. Enjoy!



1957 Chrysler 300C. The 300 was, IMHO, the best version of Exner’s new Forward Look. Every 57-58 Mopar is good looking, but the 300 had a relative lack of affectations and adornments with a pleasing and masculine cut to its jib. The fins it shares with its stablemates are actually recklessly large, but somehow look semi-responsible from most angles. The 57 is special but really all the Letter Cars are high on my list of favorite models. In their day, they were a fantastic combo of style, power and luxury.



White is my favorite color for the 57-58. Perhaps it’s because of an article I read at a formative age in a 1984 Motor Trend. It profiled the white 58 300D coupe originally used by moonshine runner Jerry Rushing. The car was named Traveller, after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s white horse. Rushing’s story was loosely used as the basis for the TV show The Dukes Of Hazard, featuring a 69 Charger not at all coincidently named General Lee. Like seemingly all car-aware boys of a certain age in the early 80s, I had an appointment with the Dukes every Friday night.

The 300 in 1957 had a 392c.i. making 375hp standard with dual quad carbs (as seen on this car with its Torqueflite), with a 390hp manual-shift version optional. $44,000



1957 DeSoto Adventurer convertible.  Speaking of Forward Look Chryslers, a sibling to the 300 was found at RMSothebys’s in, of course, very fine [restored] condition. The Adventurer was the ultimate DeSoto, sort of a DeSoto 300. It had a smaller 345c.i. version of the hemi engine, but was higher output per displacement at 345hp. The 57 Adventurer was the first U.S. model to come with 1 hp/cubic inch standard (56 300B and 57 Chevy were first to offer it optionally).



Auction site glamor shot shows the Adventurer shared its basic bodywork with the 300, riding the same wheelbase and very close in overall length. There are a lot more of these beautiful photos at the auction link, if gold-trimmed 50’s dreamboats are your thing.



Interior is restored impeccability. The car sports two clocks: one to the right of the radio and another of the slick self-winding variety in the steering hub (like the 55 DeSoto we saw yesterday). His and hers, or redundancy? Either way, DeSoto owners are never late!

Only three hundred buyers chose an Adventurer droptop for 1957, which is actually quite a bit more than in 58 or 59, the only other years the car was available. Still quite rare, though, as the sale price testifies. $128,800 (proceeds went to a charity, which might have inflated the price)



1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner. Let’s make it a 1957 trifecta because Ford also had a new design this year and B-J had a fantastic example of it in timeless red one-tone (not counting the top). Judging from what I saw in person and the extensive owner-supplied photos of the underside, it’s restored about as comprehensively as a car can be.

I think Ford really nailed the ideal late 50s look here, and the front 3/4 is its best angle.



The fins are unmistakable but not ostentatious by the standards of the time. I’ve always loved the Ford’s side trim this year, especially on the 500.



The one area of the 57 I’m not crazy about is the plus sized rear bumper when viewed from this angle. Add a couple compressible strut mounts and 1975 would love this bumper.

Another thing I liked about this example is that it’s a Sunliner, not a Skyliner. The Skyliner, of course, was the retractable hardtop convertible Ford made in 1957-59. It’s neat and all, but its proportions are by necessity a bit odd and despite selling 1/4-1/3 as well as the conventional ragtop, it seems to be more common at auctions and car shows. Give me a regular old convertible like this any day, though it didn’t go cheap. $69,300



1971 Lamborgini Miura P400SV. Cheap is a relative word and almost everything is cheap compared to a Miura. Such as: other supercars, most houses in upscale neighborhoods, and many mid-size companies.



Pull up in this and you’ve officially arrived. It’s good for more than just looking rich, though, as it was the fastest production car in the world at the time it was introduced. The Miura was built from 1966-73 and was the first high-performance mid-engine road car produced (the Ford GT40 was considered a race car, even though a handful of non-race versions were sold).



The SV was the final version of the Miura, built from 71 to 73. It had a transversely mounted 3.9L DOHC V12 with four 3bbl carbs, making 380hp and 295lb-ft. Lamborghini introduced their V12 in 1963 and through many displacement increases and modifications continued to use it for almost 50 years.




The car has been superlatively restored and reportedly won first prize in multiple concours events. I assume this information was provided to make the lucky new owner feel good about investing a large fortune in a single car. One that’s probably too nice and too valuable to be actually driven. $3,580,000



1964 Mercury Park Lane Marauder. As you’ve seen, a combination of model and color typically determines my favorites. Here it’s the attractive 64 Mercury design in an unsubtle Samoan Coral. Not a typical mid 60s sort of hue, it’s more like a 50s car, especially with the white roof giving it a two-tone vibe.



It even had tail fins, in a way. The long, low look is pure 60’s, though, as is the surprisingly convincing (and possibly non-stock?) faux convertible roof. The Marauder is often thought of as a performance model, which it was in later years, but in 1964 it was a body style. All full size two and four door Mercurys with the fastback roof were Marauders, in all three models lines with any engine. All others had the Breezeway roof. Mercury took things a step further by calling all six engines in the full size line Marauder, Marauder Super, or Marauder Interceptor, even in a Breezeway car. No, that’s not confusing at all!

It’s ready for all the plundering and pillaging you want to do.



I think the grille/front end is my favorite part on the 64 Mercs.



The Park Lane, Mercury’s highest model in 64, went all in on the tufted look. Bucket seats and console were optional as was the automatic transmission, though it surely was much more common than the 3 or 4-speed manuals. As with fellow medium-price marque Pontiac, Mercury was known in the 60s for having a translucent portion on their steering wheels.

All this character and the spotless restored condition brought more than a medium price. $66,000



1950 Nash Rambler Convertible. Bathtub Nashs are not what I would call beautiful, but they certainly are interesting and not a common sight, even in places classic cars gather. It’s just such an unusual look, I was rather captivated seeing it in person.

1950 was the introductory year for the Rambler, the first postwar compact from a major maker. For the first year, it was only offered as a two door wagon or a convertible, if you can call it that. The following year, they added a true hardtop coupe. This is kind of ironic, considering that the appeal of hardtop coupes was that they had pillarless glass like a convertible, yet the Rambler’s convertible continued to have pillared glass.



The top is attached to the roof rails and slides back on them.

Nash went with the four wheel skirted fender look on their other new postwar cars, too, starting in 1949. They called it Airflyte design and it actually was relatively aerodynamically efficient. They sold pretty well, too, keeping Nash solid 10th-11th place among U.S. brands from 1949-52, which is better than they had done for the several years leading up to WWII. The 100 inch wheelbase Rambler fanned the small car flame with modest sales through the 50s. When Rambler became a full fledged make under AMC in 1957, it became a roaring sales campfire in the late 50s and early 60s, spurring the Big 3 to make compact cars, as did the small but growing popularity of foreign makes.



The Rambler’s dash was also pretty unusually styled. Despite its diminutiveness, the 1950 Rambler was not an extremely cheap car. It cost similar to Ford, Chevy, or Plymouth’s convertibles, which were true convertibles with a foot or more of wheelbase and substantially bigger engines. It wasn’t especially cheap at B-J in 2023 either. $33,000



1950 Hudson Commodore 8 convertible. Another notable independent, groundbreaking, postwar design was the Step Down Hudson. This is also a car that’s famous but not seen real often, so when you get to be in the presence of one, its’ a big deal. Especially a black beauty like this!



Dig those smooth haunches. They weren’t shy with the chrome, accentuating the car’s long, straight lines.



Step Down Hudsons would be known for performance, but not just yet in 1950. Commodore Eight, the top model, had a 254c.i. straight 8 making 128hp, which was very respectable but no racecar. The Hornet would be introduced the next year with a new 145 hp 308c.i. six, soon to be up to 170hp in 1953. Hudson offered lots of parts that racers and hotrodders could use to get even more power from the highly tunable engine.




What really put this car over the top for me was actually the interior. To call it sumptuous would be underselling it, with burgundy leather seats, more chrome than a 1950 Cadillac and more fake wood than a 1980 Cadillac. It cost a lot less than a Cadillac (about the same as an Olds 98) but the 425 made was a fraction of those GMs.

$49,500, which is still a pretty reasonable price for a rare 50s convertible.



1931 Duesenburg Model J convertible sedan. A member of the ultimate independent make was spotted at RMS, positioned front and center, as it should be. Duesenburg had been making significant, fast road cars since 1921, but it was the 1929-37 Model J that would secure its legendary status as perhaps the finest American car ever made.

This car rides on the shorter of the two available wheelbases and reportedly has been restored twice, recently being exhibited at Pebble Beach. As with all the RMSotheby’s cars, the auction site has loads of great photos of the car. It appears providing professional photography is a requirement to sell a car there.



It’s amazing how such a plain dash can look so cool. Perhaps its the aluminum used in the panel and steering column, or maybe the bevy of functional gauges, including tachometer, brake pressure, barometer, altimeter, and stopwatch. Of course, Duesenburgs weren’t simply luxurious, they were the ultimate performance cars of the era.



The 420c.i. straight 8 had dual overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder, rated at 265hp. This was over twice the next most powerful eight in the U.S., the 395c.i. Chrysler, and 100hp more than Cadillac’s new, larger V16. It also looked fantastic, always in green and sometimes with the world’s most sexy exhaust piping.



As with all Classic Era luxury cars, the body was made by an outside coachbuilder, in this case LeBaron. Reportedly, the car was traded in to Duesenburg in 1933, who removed the original fixed roof body and replaced it with the LeBaron convertible body. Bidders agreed that it looks like a million bucks. $1,050,000



1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 We’ll wrap up with another superlative car from a much different era, an era of large bumpers and small expectations. In the middle of that era, Mercedes decided to defy the low expectations and make a version of their W116 to be a worthy successor to the 68-72 300SEL 6.3 and others of their previous large high-performance sedans.



The heart of the package was the 6.9L M100 fuel-injected V8, the largest engine ever sold by a European car maker (to date*) It was the same basic engine as the previous 6.3, but enlarged to compensate for decreased output in the emissions control era. Power in U.S. cars was 249hp, 37hp less then the Europeans got.



The model was also noteworthy for having four wheel hydropneumatic suspension standard (other W116s could be equipped at the rear only) and Mercedes’* first electronic antilock braking system (but not until the year after our auction car was made).

This car has been partially refurbed with new paint and several mechanical replacements (which didn’t include any major engine work), according to the seller.



M-B made the car from 1975-81. By modern standards it wouldn’t be considered especially fast, but it was easily the fastest large luxury sedan available at the time and a rare bright spot in a gloomy performance era. Kudos to M-B for making a sedan with aspirational performance, even if it was just a tiny proportion of W116s made. It was not the most coveted car at the RMS auction, placed at the very end of the row (or maybe the very front, depending what direction one came in) and bringing one of the lower bids among the pricy cars that predominate there. $50,400

*see comments for additional info