This story began in the year 2014 after finishing a successful season in minor classic car rally trials in the Europe including three overall third places with a 1974 Porsche 911 R-gruppe. We decided that it is time to join the major events and with a tens of thousands euro in savings, why not to start with fulfilling the long time dream to participate in the Mille Miglia (MM)!
As fans of Morgan and Porsche we simply wanted do the race with some of these. A simple check says there is not any Morgan eligible for this event. That was not good for us, because the Porsches are more expensive and we had only a limited budget, although the 356s produced until 1957 are eligible. And we wanted to drive the Mille Miglia with it like Hans Herrmann did it 1954 when he flew his Porsche under the lowered gates of a railroad crossing.
With the limited budget it took couple of months until we bought a 1955 Porsche 356 in February 2015! But then we have found out it was already too late for an application for the 2015 event. And what was much worse, we have been told, that we have almost no chance to get in with the car. Too much cars are applying for the event, many of those are the Porsche 356s and as our car was not even a matching numbers nor matching colors car, the chances are down almost to zero to get in!
But the car was such an incredibly good driver, we decided to keep it until we find something more suitable and to enjoy the car in the 2015 season in other events including the Silvretta Classic. It was another great season with a best 8th place overall and winning a Porsche Trophy at the Carlsbad Classic. And as the market still ran hot, we managed to sell the car with a 40 percent profit!
The other car we have found was a rare one, the Nash-Healey Pininfarina Roadster. The car was in a quite good project condition, it seemed this should not be a big issue. The car had also a good chance to get us into the event as it was in an original condition. But unluckily we have underestimated the costs and time for the renovation of the car. The time and costs would be over our budget, so we decided finally to pass this one also. But before we sold it, we have won the Postwar Award at the Chateau Loucen Concours d’Elegance with this car! And luckily for us, the market peaked in 2016, so we could sell even this underestimated project with a nice 15 % profit.
With these profits our budget raised almost to 100.000 EUR. But as the market peaked at that time, there were no reasonable opportunities during 2016 and 2017 for that budget. Our favourite cars we were looking for were the Alpine A106 and DKW Monza. The other two cars we would like to get were the Abarth 750 GT and Alfa Romeo 1900 Primavera. But we could not find such a car for a reasonable price.
We were still waiting for one of those during the 2018 season and we unfortunately missed two great opportunities on other cars, a 1956 D.B. HBR5 and 1933 Talbot AV105. We have regret these missed opportunities, so we decided not to wait for the favourite cars and developed a detailed spreadsheet at the beginning of 2019, that would relatively objectively tell us, what is the “best buy”.
It calculates the coefficient for the MM, the probability to get in (to get this more objectively, it calculates the number of cars produced, the estimated population and adds a bonus for Italian cars and class winners), the price index (recent auction results / estimates, Hagerty / Classic Data values), the performance index (adjusted power to weight ratio, small bonus for racing and sports car) and a bonus index for eligibility in other major events like Le Mans Classic, Tour Auto, Targa Florio, Goodwood Revival, Monte Carlo Historique or Nürburgring Oldtimer GP. (Results in the table below).
We were still looking for our favourites, but if there occurs an opportunity to buy a better suited car, such as the missed opportunities in 2018, we will go for it. We had to wait again for a good opportunity until September, where there was a No Reserve 1951 D.B. HBR in an auction in Portugal. We have bought the flight tickets to check and bid for the car over there. As a couple of other good opportunities emerged in that time, we have calculated, it still will be a great buy for almost 90.000 EUR, which was over the estimate and with a hope for an even better buy as it was No Reserve. But we were not alone who was looking for such a car at the time. The car went well over our high bid and was sold for almost double the estimate and is now in good hands in a car collection in Belgium.
But only two weeks after there was another great opportunity at another auction! A project of a 1949 FIAT Daniela Testadoro by Zagato, a Formula 2 car modified also for races such as the Mille Miglia. We really love all these “Etceterini” cars that run the Mille Miglia after the war.
Notice: Etceterini = There were tens of carmakers who tuned mostly Fiats for racing after the WW II like Ermini, Bandini, Gianinni, Stanguellini etc. Nobody could say, what car is from which carmaker and so they have used the „etc.“, from latin et cetera and because most of them ended with „ini“, that gave this group of cars their own name: Etceterini.
We have calculated that we can spend our whole budget to buy the car and finish the project in to a running and eligible condition and it will be still the best possible buy! The estimate was only at 35.000 to 45.000 USD, again a no reserve auction and we could almost double the estimate with adding the cost of the renovation to still get into our budget. But again we were overbid by a margin, the treasure hunters are already everywhere! The car was sold for three times the estimate in this condition, but it was still a good buy even for that price, but already well over our budget. The car had a great racing history, raced against Carroll Shelby, Lorenzo Bandini, Pedro Rodriguez and many others! The car is now being restored in California, it landed in really good hands and we are looking for the outcome!
Luckily for us, the last, but not the least great opportunity stayed in the market for the month we were hunting these other two mentioned cars. An original chassis and engine of a 1939 MG TB with a 1955 bare aluminium Lester body was listed for more than a month in the market and we were only the third potential buyer who visited the car in person. That gave us another opportunity to discuss the asked price and we offered a 10 % discount when we buy it now. The dream car for the dream race was bought after long years of looking for the perfect car!
It is not a Morgan, what we were looking for 5 years ago, but the pre-war MGs are even greater cars, we admire them, we love them. This model had been already unlucky to get into the MM, although it has applied, but the 1939 MM was cancelled, in 1940 the MG did not participate because of the WW II. The Lester body has been built in order to participate at the 1955 MM, but the racing team decided to rebuild the body in the modern fiberglass and after two fatal accidents during the 1955 season the team came up with the decision to an end with racing at all.
Now we have applied for the 2020 event with this car, but the corona crisis strikes again to deny the start for this car! Now we are hoping to see you over there in October, although we are still only on the waiting list! We have already looked also for the M.G. hotel in Brescia, where the 1933 Mille Miglia winning MG team was staying at, to stay at the same place before the start of our MM race. Unfortunately there is Credit Suisse office instead of the hotel nowadays.
We also hope our table can help others to find a suitable car for the MM or other major events. We are still keeping the spreadsheet actual, because the prices are changing over time and we can still find new opportunities we were not aware of them before. For example there was a project of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider 750G in an auction at the beginning of March. Although as we already bought our dream car, we did not check the car properly enough, but our estimate to bring the car into running and eligible condition could be up to some 80.000 EUR including the price of the project. It was another great opportunity again, just for another treasure hunter!
The last notice goes to two curiosities. The first is the bonus car. We would never consider this one for us, but if you are looking for an eligible car under 20.000 EUR with a solid probability to get you into the race, this one could be your good chance for this low budget. And the score is not bad at all!
Or do you want to spend 15.000 EUR for a car and try to race the whole year all the top events? Start the year at Rally Monte Carlo Historique, then you can race at the Tour Auto, the Mille Miglia could be your next stop, also the Le Mans Classic could welcome you with that car, you can continue to the Nürburgring Oldtimer GP, drive at the Goodwood Revival and finish the season at Targa Florio? Yes, there is a car for ca. 15.000 EUR that could get you to all these events! And although the car does not look like a racer, it won its class at the last Mille Miglia in 1957!
Author: Auctomobile Team