Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions, will offer seven stunning classic vehicles from the Don Williams Collection during the 2024 Scottsdale Auction held January 20-28 at WestWorld of Scottsdale. Each premium vehicle from the Don Williams Collection has long been coveted by collectors worldwide and will cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block with No Reserve. Included in this rare offering is the masterfully coachbuilt 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K (Lot #1371.1).
“Don was a pivotal member of the Barrett-Jackson family for more than 50 years,” said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “He was a mentor of mine and helped shape this company into what it is today, so it is an honor to feature the last of his prestigious collection on our auction block this January. Long coveted by astute collectors, each of these seven vehicles are uniquely defined by their engineering excellence and luxury refinement. Our Scottsdale Auction will be a rare opportunity to own a historic masterpiece.”
The 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster (Lot #1371.1) has a one-off body by the Mayfair Carriage Co. It features a folding windshield and the extensive use of louvers and skirted rear fenders lend an air of elegance to the design. It was ordered with a set-back radiator, meant for open cars and factory roadsters in particular. While common for upscale luxury cars built before World War II to receive custom bodies crafted by renowned coachbuilders, the Mercedes-Benz 540K defied convention as its body styles were so beloved that only 70 of the 419 produced between 1936 and 1940 were designated for custom coachwork. This example selling in Scottsdale is one of the exclusive 70, and even more distinctive, it is one of less than 10 with custom coachwork by a U.K. coachbuilder. This magnificent vehicle remained in London until the 1950s when it was purchased by Peter Hessler of Quebec City, Canada. It was then sold to Paul Suckling in Toronto and later to publisher Richard Mertz who imported it to the United States where Mertz restored it with his son Steve Mertz. In 1994, the car joined the world-class collection of Ralph Englestad in Las Vegas where a second restoration was commissioned to upgrade the 540K to concours condition, changing the car from black over silver to red.
Another standout in the collection is a 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio (Lot #1372). A cherished part of Williams’ collection since 1988, Kees Jansen, a renowned Bugatti historian, reveals that this Type 57 was meticulously crafted in April 1936 as a four-passenger Stelvio. This model featured the alluring cabriolet design conceived by Jean Bugatti, characterized by its striking pontoon fenders and an Atalante-inspired rounded tail. The car later underwent upgrades that included later-style headlamps integrated into the front fenders and spats over the rear wheels. Additionally, this Type 57 received front “moustache” bumpers and Lockheed hydraulic brakes, a common upgrade for earlier cable-brake cars.
Believed to have been originally owned by George “Geordie” Hormel II, heir to Hormel Foods Corp. and owner of the historic Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, the 1938 Packard 12 Torpedo-Cabriolet (Lot #1372.1) was custom built using the rear body section of a 1930 Renault Reinstella Torpedo Scaphandrier. In the late 1950s, this custom Packard was purchased by J.B. Nethercutt, founder of the Nethercutt Collection and was later purchased in 1961 by William F. Harrah, one of the pioneers of car collecting and a casino mogul. The car remained in his collection until 1985 when it was sold to Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza where it received a no-expense-spared restoration by Lon Krueger of Scottsdale. In 1989, the car joined the collection of Barrett-Jackson co-founder Tom Barrett before being sold to the Blackhawk Collection where it has remained since.
“It’s an honor to have such a prestigious collection of pre-war classic vehicles on our docket for Scottsdale,” said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “Each one commands the same level of reverence felt when standing in front of a masterpiece created by one of the great Renaissance artists. Our Scottsdale Auction represents the best opportunity to see these works of automotive art in person.”
A one-off build for American playwright C. Blevins Davis, the 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith All-Weather Tourer by Freestone & Webb of London (Lot #1371) offers a dual-cowl design with fully disappearing top. It was restored in the early 1990s and features complementary Cream and Scarlet leather upholstery. The original chassis number can still be found on the frame rail and firewall plate, the Freestone & Webb body plate remains in place and the matching-numbers engine for this chassis is still fitted.
One of 53 produced in 1940, the Cadillac Series 75 Town Car by Fleetwood (Lot #1339) was among the most elegant and expensive cars in its day. Painted in blue and upholstered with blue leather and matching blue carpeting, it is powered by a 150 horsepower V8 engine with 3-speed synchromesh transmission. This Cadillac underwent a frame-off restoration with meticulous attention to detail and is the recipient of several awards including the Most Elegant Award at the Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance, Second in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and Premier Senior and National First Prize from the AACA.
The 1920 Packard 3-35 Twin 6 Transformable Town Car (Lot #1339.1) features bespoke coachwork by Fleetwood on a custom 145-inch chassis. This Packard wears its original restoration, likely from the early 1960s, in rich black lacquer with red-orange wheels and was a 2023 award-winner at the Amelia Concours d’Elegance. A 1933 Packard 1001 Standard Eight Coupe Roadster (Lot #1339.2) is among the rarest of all Tenth-series Packards as only a small portion of the 1,800 units produced received the sporty coupe roadster coachwork. It is characterized by its low windscreen, hidden rumble seat and optional rear mounted spare tire. This Packard also received the Classic Car Club of America National First Award and 100-point Senior Award.
In August 2023, Barrett-Jackson and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance kickstarted the funding for the Don Williams Classic Car Restoration Program at Rancho Cielo in Salinas, California, to train underserved youth to be mechanics and restorers. Those interested in also contributing to the program may do so here. Generous donors are asked to specify “In Memory of Don Williams” and select the “Don Williams Classic Car Restoration Program” on the donation form.
Automotive enthusiasts interested in registering to bid on the Don Williams Collection and the entire Scottsdale Auction docket may do so here.
Advance tickets to the 2024 Scottsdale Auction are available here. On Location, Barrett-Jackson’s official hospitality partner, is offering several immersive Barrett-Jackson Experiences packages for guests to join the action on the auction block, enjoy premium hospitality and connect with like-minded enthusiasts like never before. To learn more about On Location’s offerings, click here.
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