Stunning pre-war classics at Gooding's Pebble Beach auction

Stunning pre-war classics at Gooding's Pebble Beach auction

1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe (Estimate: $3,500,000 – $4,750,000).
Photo copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. Image by Brian Henniker.

Highlights include a rare, top-of-the-line 1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe, a Grand Prix-winning 1929 Bugatti Type 35B, a well-documented 1914 Stutz 4E Bearcat, and an opulent 1910 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Pullman Limousine.

These historically significant classics, along with a robust group of varied offerings from the company, will be auctioned over the course of a two-day sale on August 13 and 14, 2021.

“This exciting selection of Brass Era and prewar classics represents the uppermost echelon of early automotive production,” says Gooding & Company President and Founder, David Gooding. “We are incredibly proud to present these iconic cars at auction, and we look forward to seeing how their next fortunate owners will continue the tradition of maintaining and enjoying these historical treasures.” 

1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe (Estimate: $3,500,000 – $4,750,000)
Introduced at the New York Auto Salon in December 1928, the Duesenberg Model J was an instant sensation: more powerful, faster, and better built than any other American automobile. Fred Duesenberg’s Model J was, and still is, deservedly the pinnacle of Classic American cars. The highly distinguished Walter M. Murphy Company crafted an unprecedented 140 bodies for the 481 Model J examples built, with their most popular and emblematic style being the Convertible Coupe that accounted for over one-third of Murphy-bodied Duesenbergs. An innovative Murphy feature incorporated into some of the Convertible Coupes was an articulated deck behind the passenger compartment, beneath which the convertible’s top would stow completely into a well behind the seats, allowing it to be discreetly covered. This option, which quickly became known as the “disappearing top,” gave the bodywork a sleek, speedster-style profile.

This example, chassis 2263, was ordered by Esther Fiske Hammond, the granddaughter of the innovating Boston merchant James Madison Beebe and founder of the Jordan Marsh department store chain. She requested that the dual spare wheels be relocated to the rear, allowing the beautiful sweep of the fenders to rise along the now exposed scuttle. This was seldom seen on a Model J, resulting in a vastly more sporty-looking vehicle. Five chromed spears were also added ahead of the running boards to complement those rear fenders, making this example one of just two Convertible Coupes built by Murphy adorned with this lovely rear-spare option. Chassis 2263 remained in the possession of Mrs. Hammond until 1934, at which point the car passed through the hands of several collectors, dealers, and enthusiasts.

In 2016, this Model J was acquired by its current owner, who sent it to the respected Duesenberg historian and celebrated restorer Randy Ema with instructions to restore each component to its as-delivered condition, no expenses spared. A deep merlot color blended with a bit of black was chosen for the exterior, along with blackwall tires and a black canvas top, perfectly enhancing the hue, as well as its tailored, color-matched full covers on the 19" wire wheels. Masterfully trimmed light tan leather hides highlight the interior, with black carpets and walnut panels on the doors enhancing the cockpit. Upon completion of the restoration in 2019, this example took First Place in the Duesenberg class at Pebble Beach, an incredible feat in its own right. It also took home the CCCA Trophy, an annual award given to the most significant Classic Car on the field. The incredibly restored 2263 also achieved Best in Show at the Ironstone Concours d’Elegance in Murphys, California. 

This comprehensively restored, researched, and authenticated example best represents the zenith of West Coast coachbuilding, and is without a doubt an automotive jewel. Its status as a nut-and-bolt concours restored, Murphy-bodied Duesenberg, and one of only two created with rear spares, places it in the highest possible echelon of Classic Era automobiles.

1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix (Estimate: $3,500,000 – $4,500,000)
Considered by many to be among the finest racing cars of its period, and no doubt one of the most enduring automotive designs of all time, the Type 35 Grand Prix is the definitive Bugatti. Initially unveiled at the 1924 Grand Prix of Lyon, the Type 35 came equipped with an overhead-cam eight-cylinder engine and produced an impressive 95 hp. Its extremely lightweight chassis was emblematic of Bugatti’s revolutionary engineering, including a hollow front axle and cast aluminum wheels with integrated brake drums, beneath a lightweight, two-place aluminum body. With 340 built, the Type 35 dominated racing in the late 1920s and early 1930s, resulting in a total of over 1,000 wins.

This particular example, a 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix, features the powerful 2.3-liter, eight-cylinder engine fitted with a Roots-type supercharger. As documented in historian Hugh Conway’s Grand Prix Bugatti, this example, chassis 4938, was originally equipped with engine no. 192T, which it retains today. 4938 experienced a brief but brilliant racing career, winning the 1929 Grand Prix de l’ACF and Spanish Grand Prix, raced by the legendary Monegasque driver Louis Chiron and the notable English driver William Grover-Williams. This example continued to achieve praise for its incomparable excellence, and in 1951, it appeared on the cover of Road & Track magazine.

From 1952 to 2000, 4938 remained in the ownership of a single family, during which time it underwent a restoration carried out to the gleaming concours standards in the late 1980s. It was proudly exhibited at Pebble Beach and the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance in 1989. After transferring into the hands of English collector Chris Drake, 4938 underwent yet another comprehensive, well-documented restoration that was completed by Bugatti specialist Tim Dutton in 2006. Chassis 4938 was returned to a more period-appropriate appearance while its mechanical elements were fully restored. Since being acquired by the current owner in 2006, this Type 35B has been a fixture in a museum of historic racing cars.

In preparation for this extremely remarkable sale, Bugatti historian Mark Morris produced a comprehensive report on 4938, which is included in the car’s file together with an earlier report by David Sewell. The report verifies that this example retains its original chassis frame, engine, supercharger, gearbox, rear axle, front axle, data tag, and much of its Molsheim Grand Prix bodywork. Unlike many Bugatti competition cars from the prewar era, chassis 4938 remains in fundamentally original order, surviving for over 90 years –– making it truly one of the most desirable automobiles of all time.

1914 Stutz 4E Bearcat (Estimate: $2,750,000 – $3,500,000)
Powerful and attractive, the Stutz Bearcat embodies the most alluring qualities of early motoring as the quintessential Brass Era sports car. Prized by enthusiasts from every generation, the Bearcat is among the most rare, famous, and desirable of all antique automobiles. Since Harry Stutz began making cars in early 1911, he refined models built for performance, endurance, and speed. The iconic Bearcat made its debut in 1912 as a stripped-down, two-place sports car, featuring a mighty 390 cid four-cylinder T-head engine.

This 1914 Stutz 4E Bearcat, chassis 2250, is a genuine pre-1915 example of the legendary model, presented with thorough documentation of its decorated past. It is incredibly rare to come across a Bearcat with known provenance, making this example the holy grail of American antiques. Chassis 2250 boasts a roster of owners consisting of the very best names in car collecting, including Smith Hempstone Oliver, Thomas McKean, Winthrop Rockefeller, William Harrah, and James Conant. This Series E Bearcat has also participated in landmark events, such as the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup and the final ARCA race at the 1940 New York World’s Fair. With such an incredible and documented history, this presentation at auction represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for discerning collectors.

1931 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre SC “Blower” (Estimate: $3,000,000 – $4,000,000)
Steeped in the glorious history of Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin and his famed Bentley Boys’ legendary efforts at LeMans, this Bentley is one of the 50 original supercharged 4 1/2 Litre cars built to homologate the model for the highest levels of competition. Chassis MS3928 was delivered new in Scotland, bodied as a Drophead Coupe by J. Gurney Nutting & Co., and has been traced through notable UK-based owners, including an RAF Squadron Leader, before being acquired, without coachwork, by a family in Connecticut in 1961, where it joined a stable of “Blower” Bentleys. In 1970, the family returned MS3928’s chassis to England, commissioning Restor, Ltd. to faithfully construct lightweight, fabric-covered coachwork in the style of the original Tim Birkin LeMans team cars. Upon its completion and re-importation, it was enjoyed by the family on numerous tours and rallies during their 47 years of stewardship. The “Blower” is equipped with an original Amherst Villiers ribbed supercharger, aero screens, cycle-style fenders, mesh stone guards to protect the Zeiss headlamps and SU carburetors, large capacity LeMans fuel tank, leather hood straps, racing dashboard with correct, large instruments, and a proper cord-wrapped steering wheel.

In 2008, the rare Bentley was acquired by the current owner, who has since kept it on a spirited exercise regimen while displaying it among his world-class collection of veteran and vintage competition cars. A “Blower” Bentley is unparalleled in both status and stature, and MS3928 is an ideal choice for participation in the finest gatherings including the legendary BDC rallies, the Mille Miglia, the Colorado Grand, and other vintage driving events throughout the world.


1910 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Pullman Limousine (Estimate: $2,000,000 – $2,600,000)
Since its debut at the 1906 Olympia Motor Show, the 40/50 HP chassis, commonly referred to as the Silver Ghost, remains the bedrock of the Rolls-Royce mystique. Among the most respected of all early Rolls-Royce motorcars, a total of 6,173 Silver Ghosts were built up until 1925, when it was succeeded by the new Phantom. During this time, the 40/50 enjoyed record-setting long-distance tours, rallies, and publicity events. Silver Ghosts built before the outbreak of WWI in particular remain the most sought-after of their kind, as each one is revered for its reliability, silent operation, and driving ease –  characteristics that have stood the test of time over a century later.


This 1910 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Pullman Limousine, chassis 1392, stands alone in its grandeur, originality, condition, and design. One of the finest surviving examples worldwide, chassis 1392’s coachwork was crafted by S & A Fuller Coachworks of Bath, England, and is one of the most regal and impressive of its kind extant. Wooden window casements, curved corner windows, and contours of the double limousine’s coach-lines dazzle the senses. 1392, affectionately dubbed “The Fuller” in Rolls-Royce circles, has been housed in numerous US- and UK-based collections, where its character and original components have been carefully preserved. Its interior is adorned with an extremely rare and beautiful quad-faced Elliott instrument array, complemented with a double-faced Elliott in the rear compartment, making chassis 1392 one of the earliest cars to feature rear instrumentation. The Silver Ghost’s elegant, original 111-year old seat cloth and cushions, headliner, carpets, and privacy shades are remarkably intact.

“The Fuller” joined the consignor’s collection in 2006, and is presented in its original color combination, with black fenders and claret maroon coachwork. It was skillfully brought back to concours standards, with special care given to conserving its materials and finishes. 1392 has earned class awards at Amelia Island and at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it received the coveted Lucius Beebe Award. This Silver Ghost moves with alacrity and authority, enduring more than 110 years as the impeccable and graceful example presented today. A crowning centerpiece of any conceivable collection, chassis 1392 represents a strong and irreplaceable link to the opulence and grand style of the Edwardian Era.

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The company will also present an extraordinary vintage 1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Sports Tourer (Estimate: $1,100,000 – $1,400,000) with a documented touring history featuring coachwork by Vanden Plas, an Edwardian 1911 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Tourer (Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,500,000) featuring coachwork built in the Style of Barker, and an extremely rare dual cowl, Brewster-bodied 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Ascot Sport Phaeton (Estimate: $300,000 – $400,000, without reserve). 

The Pebble Beach Auctions 
Dates: Friday, August 13, at 5 p.m. PDT, and Saturday, August 14, at 11 a.m. PDT
Location: Pebble Beach Parc du Concours
Public Preview: Wednesday, August 11 through Saturday, August 14
Auction Catalogues: $100, includes admission for two to the viewing and the auction
General Admission: $40, includes admission for one to the viewing and the auction
Live Auction Broadcast:
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