1957 Buick Century Caballero Estate Wagon might just be the most magnificent estate there was ever been. It's absolutely stunning. This one is freshly restored with sympathetic upgrades like climate control and power brakes. Proceeds go to George W. Bush's veterans charity... Est: $100,000 - $150,000
Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s impossible to be indifferent about American cars.
Personally, I love them. Oh sure, the vast majority are rubbish, but they have a style all their own that European and Japanese cars can’t match. Now, I’ll admit the last forty years or so haven’t been great. In fact many American cars built since 1970 have been downright revolting, slathered in fake chrome, fake wood, vinyl and vulgalour upholstery. But now they have a certain kitsch appeal.
Point is, pretty much every Yank tank made before 1970 looked fabulous. Even fairly prosaic stuff. It’s this era that’s the focus of RM Sotheby’s Motor City sale in Detroit on 25 July.
There’s a few bits of European metal mixed in, but the catalogue is mostly full of glorious, classic-era American iron. Click through the gallery below to see my top picks.
1941 Chrysler Windsor Highlander Convertible was the top-spec, entry-level Chrysler. In the UK, we had the Austin 12… Est: $60,000 – $70,000
1948 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Convertible wasn’t very, err, special, but is a fine example of the style that was available for mid-range money. This one has a 95bhp straight-6 and a 3-speed manual ‘box with overdrive; new interior and lowered front suspension. Looks good value Est: $25,000 – $35,000
1950 Chrysler Royal Town & Country Station Wagon closed the era of wooden-bodied wagons, and what a send-off it was. Add power brakes and climate control, it would still be a fantastic family bus today. Est: $50,000 – $60,000
1955 Chrysler C-300 arguably the original muscle car with 300bhp V8. Made for NASCAR but stunningly elegant styling. This one has been restored properly and even looks good in cream. Est: $75,000 – $90,000
1956 Continental Mark II, made by Lincoln, was a model of elegant restraint at a time when most American stylists were going bonkers. At $10,000 it was also the most expensive American car on sale in ’56. It flopped and was replaced in ’58 by the hideous Mk.3, which flopped as well. This one has a rather sudden bright red and white interior. Gorgeous. Est: $45,000 – $65,000
1957 Buick Century Caballero Estate Wagon might just be the most magnificent estate there was ever been. It’s absolutely stunning. This one is freshly restored with sympathetic upgrades like climate control and power brakes. Proceeds go to George W. Bush’s veterans charity… Est: $100,000 – $150,000
1958 Mercury Montclair Hardtop Coupe looks like they didn’t know when to stop styling it. Much opulence for a mid-size sedan, though this one has a surprisingly subtle colour combo. Which masks the beast within, a NASCAR-spec, 400bhp ‘Super Marauder’ engine. Hugely fast, but still only a live rear axle on leaf springs and drum brakes all-round. Est: $50,000 – $60,000
1959 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible either the zenith or nadir of American car design, depending on who you talk to. Iconic either way. This is one wears lovely older restoration. Not as glitzy as full-fat Eldorado, therefore cheaper. Est $80,000 – $100,000
1960 Pontiac Bonneville Sport Coupe shows how stylists started to tone down previous excesses for the 60s. Very elegant for a mid-size sedan. Sport essentially a NASCAR homologation special with 318bhp motor. This has had an award-winning restoration. Est: $70,000 – $90,000