Classic cars from the 1930s lead RM concours auction

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — A see-though 1940 Pontiac show car with a plastic shell was among the top 10 sellers at the July 30 RM Auctions sale here prior to the Concours d’Elegance of America.

The Inn at St. John’s provided a new setting for the former Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, which moved across metro Detroit from its longtime home at Oakland University in Rochester Hills. And the RM pre-concours one-day sale came along for the ride.

Eight of the top-ten selling cars July 30 were from the 1930s. In the lead was a 1932 Packard Twin Six Individual Custom Convertible Sedan reported to once have been owned by entertainer Al Jolson. It sold at auction for $1.1 million. Among its many outstanding features was an inset instrument panel discretely sheltered by the horizontal dash.

The fascinating transparent 1939 Pontiac, with its innards clearly visible for the enjoyment of visitors to the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair, brought $308,000. This “Ghost Car” is reported to have toured dealerships around the country following the show. It cost some $25,000 to build.

Taking stock, there were nine Cadillacs up for auction, five Lincolns, two Duesenbergs and 13 Packards. The last ranged from the 1932 $1.1 million convertible sedan with Dietrich body work to an unusual 1957 Packard Clipper four-door country sedan with McCulloch-supercharged 289 and gold leather interior trim. The “wagon” sold for $60,500.

More affordable sales included a yellow 1935 DeSoto Airflow sedan that had been recently restored. It went for $27,500. Parked beside it during the preview was a 1935 Chrysler C2 Imperial Airflow coupe that brought considerably more: $66,000.

A dainty two-tone 1957 Austin A35 sedan with precious little rear-seat legroom sold for $33,000, and a fine-looking 1936 Buick Model 48 Special Victoria Coupe restored by students at McPherson College in Kansas went for a best bid of $28,600.

A two-tone 1935 Brewster-Ford Town Car sold for just $49,500. Its pedigree said its fully documented ownership included an early purchase by a wealthy New Yorker; it later was gifted to actress Gertrude Lawrence, and was at one point bought by the owner of Old Man’s Hat, “a landmark New York City establishment,” according to the auction booklet.

Another car with a major New York connection, a 1930 Cadillac Sixteen Madame X Club Sedan was among the first Cadillacs to be built with V-16 engines. The Madame X refers to the sedans built with an 18-degree slanted windshield, according to RM Auctions notes. In the seller’s family for close to 30 years, the restored Madame X Club Sedan sold at auction for $148,500.

Of the 71 cars listed for auction, only nine failed to sell.