Auction Catalog Descriptions

Auction catalog descriptions are important communication tools that entertain and inform prospective buyers, the collector car market, collectors and enthusiasts. Important cars’ availability for public sale in major collector car auctions is a rare opportunity to describe the cars and recap their histories which is often impossible while these cars are kept in the collections of publicity-shy collectors.

Writing a good catalog description is also a tightrope walk between enthusiastic description of the car and accurate historical and physical presentation. It carries with it an obligation to be as accurate and complete as possible in what may be the only public recitation of a particular car’s history.

The following is a sample of catalog descriptions I have written. Graphical representations of the catalog pages and photographs are © by the auction companies and are used with permission.

Gooding & Company

1935 Duesenberg SJ Special “The Mormon Meteor” Engine No. J557
Built by Augie Duesenberg and Ab Jenkins and driven to the 24 hour Land Speed Record in 1935, this is the fastest, most powerful and most famous of all Duesenbergs, which says a lot but is entirely true.

Worldwide Group

1910 Stanley Model 60 Runabout
Preserved for over 70 years by Fred Buess, this Stanley was all-original and drove onto the auction block under its own power.

1927 Duesenberg Model Y Phaeton
The Model J Prototype, assembled by Augie Duesenberg, highly original with many nuts and bolts turned by Augie himself and still in place. It didn’t sell, but the history that it represents is absolutely unique in American automobile history.

RM Auctions

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport s/n 002
One of the legendary vehicles of Corvette history, ex-Roger Penske and George Wintersteen … and I got to drive it in Phoenix!

car logoMaserati 5000 GT Touring Coupe S/N 103.004
The second 5000 GT built, powered by a barely-refined 450S V8 with gear camshaft drives and Weber carbs. Pebble Beach 5000 GT class winner in 1999.

The snoot on the Touring-bodied 5000 GTs is the design’s most distinctive, and controversial, feature. It is said to be a representation of the nose of Fangio’s 1957 World Championship Maserati 250F. I guess you don’t have to like it, just understand what it’s supposed to be.

car logoFerrari 330 TRI/LM Testa Rossa S/N 0808
The last Testa Rossa built, 1962 Le Mans winner driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien, the last front-engined Le Mans winner.

Miller V-16 Engine
The only surviving Miller V-16 engine. This description includes a quote from William Burden’s book “Peggy and I” which is typical 1930’s upper crust. It could have come right out of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it’s real.

car logo1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 2.6 Liter Monza Spider Corsa
From the estate of Terry Cohn. 1933 French GP
3rd Place, 1949 Bridgehampton Road Race
winner. 2211125

car logo1953 Ferrari 375MM Scaglietti Spyder(1954 coachwork); 0366 AM

car logo1956 Ferrari 410 Sport (0596 CM)

Maserati 200SI Sports Racer (s/n 2401)

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

Christie’s International Motor Cars Department

Abarth 1500 Biposto, designed by Franco Scaglione,coachwork by Bertone
A 2009-10 postscript to the Biposto

Ford & Ghia Unique Design Prototype and Auto Show Concept Models

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante Coupé — John Straus, barn-find, coachwork displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair

Porsche 917LH

1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Coupe, Le Mans 1968-73

Bonhams Motor Cars

1910 Peerless Model 29 Victoria — from the Richard C. Paine, Jr. Collection, ex-James Melton and Dr. Sam Scher

car logo1954 Ferrari 375 Mille Miglia Coupé, Coachwork by Ghia

1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider, ex-Evel Knievel