As a relatively broke millennial, high-dollar auctions have never been my cup of tea. But the sale held over the weekend at Los Angeles’ famous Petersen Automotive Museum was just too cool to pass up, with lots ranging from original pieces from Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Von Dutch to vintage and modern supercars, and even a few fascinating scoots for good measure.
Even though I attended the event primarily for the artwork and two-wheeled specimens, I have to admit there were some truly amazing cars for sale at the Petersen on Saturday.
Gear-Head Greatness – RM Sotheby’s Petersen Museum Auction Recap
Story and Photos by Tim Huber
This IRL cartoon vehicle is actually a recreation of Ed Roth’s “Mysterion” build from 1963 that was sadly destroyed. Fortunately, before the bonkers car met its demise, model company, Revell put a plastic model kit into production, preserving the idiosyncratic hot rod’s design and ultimately leading to this breathtaking replica build.
This exotic four-wheeler left the factory in 1965 as a Ferrari 330 GT (Series II) before later being converted into a one-off “shooting brake” style station-wagon designed by Luigi Chinetti Jr. and Bob Peak. The 300hp V12-powered Italian took in a cool $313K.
This 1960 Renault 4CV Jolly by Ghia (which sold for $106.4K) was another fun little retro vehicle to cross the auction block on Saturday.
This 1956 Piaggio Vespa Calessino is actually a different example from the one previously kept on display at the Petersen (that Tom featured back in 2017). Despite a myriad of areas needing some TLC, this rare Vespa example was expected to fetch between $40-60K (though it only brought in $30K).
This 1961 Lambretta TV 175 Series II features what Sotheby’s calls a “delightful side car”, a handful of period-correct accessories, and has undergone an extensive restoration. It sold for $33,600.
Three of the coolest lots on display were the trio of post-war economy microcars. The turquoise (or “French Racing Blue”) example is a 1956 Paul Valêe Chantecler (sold for $53,200), the red three-wheeled microcar is a 1964 Messerschmitt KR 200 Roadster (sold for $57,120) — and the very last known production example in existence — while the tri-wheeled yellow example is a 1954 Mochet CM-125 Luxe (sold for $25,200).
Widely credited as being the very first gasoline internal combustion-engine-powered motorcycle, the 1885 Daimler Reitwagen featured a 0.5-horsepower, air-cooled, 264cc, four-stroke single, a wood-beam chassis, and a hair-raising top-speed of just under 7mph. Though this particular Reitwagen — or “riding car” — example is just a static recreation, I still thoroughly enjoyed inspecting the antiquated two-wheeler’s inner-workings. It sold for $9,000.
Alongside all the McLarens, Lambos, and Bugattis, there was also a trio of little Honda runners; a 1970 CT70 (Trail 70), 1970 Z50A, and a 1986 Z50R, which sold for $15,600, $6,600, and $9,600 respectively. [Editor’s Note: God help us all.]
This protobike wasn’t actually part of Saturday’s auction, however it was on the floor of the Petersen in front of the auction’s main stage, so including it in the recap seems fair. What you’re looking at is a Yamaha SR500-based Porsche motorcycle concept from 1979. The idea was to try and implement some of the comforts of automobile transportation in a motorcycle, resulting in the bulbous bodywork, which even included integrated kneepads to protect the rider in the event of a crash.
Though the vehicles on display were admittedly pretty awesome, the main draw for me personally was the collection of original drawings from (Ed “BD” Roth’s) Roth Studios. Full color works, half-complete sketches, and an array of manufacturer illustrations constituted the offerings from the legendary artist. My personal hands-down favorite was Lot 127; the Kawasaki, “KAWASAKITO ‘EM!” piece from 1969. Sadly, the final $3,300 sale price meant that I didn’t take home the lot.
Dozens of original works from Von Dutch — the father of modern pinstriping — were also up for sale. This included several canvases, illustrations, a couple engraved knives, a few signs, a wacky little backwards .373 Cal gun, a photo album, and one of Dutch’s pinstriping/brush kits.
Other noteworthy lots included some auto-related arts, a few pieces of race memorabilia, and a handful of Steve McQueen stuff; directors’ chair, mailbox, and even the key to the star’s suite at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel ($1,600).