Oh to be in Greenwich, Connecticut today. The Greenwich Concours d’Elegance sponsored by Automobile Magazine will have a fantastic selection of classic cars, bikes and yachts on display through the end of the day. The focus of this year’s show is “The Ultimate Barn Find” with the feature car being a 1937 Chrysler Imperial Town Car that was custom built for none other than Walter P. Chrysler’s wife Della.
The Chrysler was a gift to the Vanderbilt Museum in 1959 but has been in storage since 1986 while the museum tried figuring out what to do with it. During the past quarter century, the car has suffered the ravages of time with paint flaking off the aluminum body and even rusting along the rear fender. It was purchased last year by Howard Kroplick who has been debating whether to just maintain the car or to perform a full restoration.
This has actually become more than just a personal debate about whether or not to restore the car. A number of people have spoken up, stating this car has enough historical significance to the history of Chrysler that it should be preserved in its current state (complete with decomposing cigarettes in the ashtray). The other side of the coin states this should be restored to original condition to let people experience the awesomeness that can happen when the head of a corporation custom orders one of his own cars. Personally, I want to see the car restored to its former glory and to be used to chauffeur VIPs to and from special events.
Continuing the barn find theme, Bonhams is featuring a 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spyder that was recently discovered in their auction at the Concours. The engine in it is from the correct time period but is not the original motor. Due to the condition and replacement motor, the car is only expected to fetch around $10,000 at the auction. This is one car that I would love to strip down and repair. I’m torn about the level of restoration that should be performed. Clearly, I want to get the mechanicals sorted out and hit some twisting, winding roads but would I want to repaint the body or rechrome the bumpers?
Looking at the rest of the auction list, the fully restored 1964 Jaguar E Type 3.8 Liter Roadster stands out, expecting to bring well over $100,000 at auction. I note that it is fully restored and there isn’t a single word mentioned about people complaining that lacks the patina of age. There’s also the freshly restored 1963 Porsche 356B 1600 Super 90 Cabriolet that bidding has been estimated to reach $175,000 for. Again, no word of complaint about the restoration being performed. And we can’t ignore the 1952 Jaguar XK120 OTS that has been caressed into “like new” condition and has won several awards at various events that could sell for as much as $120,000.