There is a craftsmanship in classic cars that has an appeal beyond price; meaning many owners have to determine an ‘agreed value’ for classic car insurance and security – after all, how can you determine the material worth of the very model of Shelby Daytona Coupe that appeared in the film Red Line 7000?
Expert and amateur enthusiasts have debated the rarest and finest vintage vehicles since the advent of the combustion engine, but these are our picks of the rarest, most refined, and usually most luxurious heritage vehicles around today.
Tucker Sedan – 1948
This post war classic was originally named the ‘Tucker Torpedo’, but in a bid to distance itself from WW2, was renamed the Tucker Sedan. Designed by Preston Thomas Tucker and celebrated stylist Alex Tremulis, only 51 Tucker Sedans were ever produced, and only 47 are around today. While this is a relatively large production run in terms of rare classic cars, the Tucker boasts some slick design features, some of which made it into modern automobile designs.
Mr Tucker wanted to design a safe and innovative automobile, which resulted in a prototype named the ‘Tin Goose’. This fresh design featured a safety cradle for passengers, six tailpipes and three ‘eyes’ (headlights). The centre headlight was nicknamed the ‘Cyclops eye’ and turned with the two front wheels.
Problems upon launch included a loud engine, an unreliable radiator and a storm of bad publicity; this included criticism by journalist Drew Pearson and a fraud investigation that – although baseless – discredited and sunk the Tucker company.
Cars Produced: 51
Recently Sold For: $2.9 Million.
Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe – 1965
Just six of these gorgeous Daytona original coupes were built between 1964 and 1965. Borne of the oft touted rivalry between Ferrari & Shelby, this deluxe race car has the distinction of being one of last cars that Carroll Shelby drove. Shelby encouraged employees Pete Brock and Bob Negstad to design the bodywork, chassis and suspension.
This superfast luxurious vehicle spawned urban legends – for example Carroll had a party trick where he would put a $100 note on the dashboard of the car, and if the customer could grab the money before the Cobra could hit 100 mph, he could keep it. No one ever got that money.
Cars Produced: 6
Recently Sold For: $7.25 million
MERCEDES-BENZ 540K SPECIAL ROADSTER 1937
Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster is a limited edition, long tail vehicle which embodies the nostalgic beauty of the 1930s. The car’s romantic appeal was enhanced by association with Baroness Gisela von Krieger, a glamorous society beauty who fled the Nazis in her luxury 540k automobile.
The two would have been a perfect match; both poised, elegant, refined and keen to shake off a Teutonic association which had become tiresome in the aftermath of war. The car was later purchased – with difficulty - by a private collector, who found Gisela’s lipsticked cigarette stubs, and a white silk glove under the driver’s seat.
Only 26 of these handsome automobiles were ever produced.
Cars Produced: 26
Recently Sold For: $9.6 million
Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
Only 22 of these sleek, chic racing cars were ever produced. This record breaking automobile – on the track and in the auction house – has a reputation for quality, even half a century after its creation. Italian designer Scaglietti designed a ‘pontoon fender’ system for use in the Testa Rossa, inspired by the pinnacle of Formula 1 success; hence these aerodynamic wonders are perfect for those who feel a need for speed.
Enzo Ferrari and Sergio Scaglietti formed a professional and personal bond which was cemented by Scaglietti’s mentorship of Ferrari’s son, Alfredo (also known as Dino), who sadly passed away at a young age.
Cars produced: 22
Recently Sold for: $16.4 Million
Bugatti Type 41 ‘Royale’ -1929
Only six of the sumptuous Bugatti Type 41 classic car, known as the ‘Royale’, were ever made. The Type 41 was Ettore Bugatti’s most luxurious and exclusive car, designed specifically for royalty. However production was halted by the Depression. The regal, extra long vehicle features exquisite whalebone fittings, a lustrous walnut steering wheel, and a radiator cap in the shape of a rearing elephant. The caps were cast from an original sculpture by Ettore’s younger brother, Rembrandt Bugatti.
The family had a troubled history, culminating in the second world war where two of their heroic drivers lost their lives fighting in the French Resistance. A third fought but survived, only to die in training a few years later. Afterward, Ettore Bugatti had difficulty reclaiming his plant.
5 of the Bugatti Type 41s are situated in museums, with the sixth belonging to an unknown private collector. The legendary brand are currently celebrating 100 Years of Bugatti.
Cars Produced: 6
Recently sold for: $20 million.
While very few of us can afford a Bugatti that’s fit for a King, or a museum grade Baroness’ Roadster (complete with silk gloves) we can access a little of the magic intrinsic to classic car ownership. Just insure you get the best breakdown cover and theft protection through a reputable classic car insurance firm like Rapid Cover and you’ll be fine.
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