SL Market Letter Publisher John Olson was in Denmark recently and arranged a private visit to the impressive Frederiksen Collection ahead of the Bonhams Auction to be held there on Septmber 26th. The collection is housed at the 16th century Lyngsbaekgaard Manor, near Ebeltoft, Denmark. Olson submitted the report below. Click here to see the Bonhams Auction catalog for the sale.
On the idyllic 16th century Lyngsbækgaard Manor near Ebeltoft, Denmark, Henrik Frederiksen and his late wife amassed one of the most remarkable and controversial private car collections in Europe. Multiple Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts, V16 and V12 Cadillacs, several Hispano-Suizas, a 6.5 liter Bentley, Jaguar SS100, Duesenberg, Lincoln, Packard Twin Six, Pierce Arrow… all in impeccable operating and cosmetic condition, housed in handsome, purpose-built buildings. Mr. Frederiksen’s letter in the auction catalog explains their interest as non-mass-produced, mostly coach-built models. During the first 50 years of automotive history rebodying cars, even several times during ownership, was as common place as replacing engines is today. Early cars came without enclosed roofs, leaving owners to select from after-market “winter tops” or commission custom coachwork. Cars could even be bought as bare chassis and motor. Sometime after WWII it became sacrilegious to modify automobiles to personal tastes. Where did that come from?
And how’d Mercedes fair in this heady company? Well enough to go have a look while in Scandinavia this month. Maybach, Horch & Mercedes even enjoyed their own exhibit room for years. Bonham’s has taken this sale seriously with a 236 pg. catalog describing a collection of 48 mostly coach-built icons and some rebodied commemorations of the rarest classics on the planet.
Cabriolets and Roadsters: The Fredericksens clearly had a soft spot for special roadsters and cabriolets (who wouldn’t!). In all my travels I’ve never before seen a Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet (1937), Maybach Zeppelin, and a supercharged MB 500K Special Roadster all in the same room! Wait, wait, there’s more: a skiff-bodied (wooden boattail) Silver Ghost roadster, a Duesenberg Mod. J Murhpy Roadster, an Auburn V12 Roadster, and a SWB Bentley 6.5 open sportster. Then I noticed the surroundings; most floors are oak with no oil spots and original art filling the walls. Two of the three car buildings are totally high-tech; cameras and alarms, fully fire and theft-resistant, but camouflaged to appear as the other centuries old original buildings. A dream pursuit by a like-minded couple with the passion to make it real.
Mercedes was already doing quite well before WWI; sales reached 5,985 cars in 1914, putting it among the larger car builders in Europe. Records also included speed: even in America: 83.1 mph in 1909, 131.7 mph in 1913. In 1915 (after 3 years of trying) Ralph De Palma won the 4th running of the Indianapolis 500 in a Mercedes. The 1914 “28/95” behemoth pictured above is a 7.2 liter powerhouse that shared engine technology with the DF80 aircraft engine Daimler was also building. This was an early Mercedes to carry the dramatic Vee shaped grille that prevailed for the next 60 years. This particular car was originally sold without a body, (chassis & engine) for coachwork in New York. That history got sidelined by WWI. Sale estimate: $ 1.4 – 1.9 M
A much admired book of Rolls Royce illustrations by Melborne Brindle, Twenty Silver Ghosts, included the now lost “Balloon Car” used by Charles Rolls (RR co-founder) in the pursuit of his ballooning hobby. Lower center photo is a faithful copy of the first Balloon Car on a genuine Silver Ghost chassis. Sale estimate: $690,000 – $930,000. [As an aside, Mr. Rolls, a big fan of aircraft, was killed in 1910 piloting a Wright Brothers airplane.]
Mechanical features of the 540K were/are equally profound… its supercharger increased power up to 50% for passing and hill climbing but unlike other designs it remained on standby, engaging only as a modern passing gear when the accelerator is fully pressed. The car’s independent coil spring suspension with swinging rear axles became the norm on all Mercedes-Benz for the next forty years. As noted, a number of cars in the Frederiksen Collection are rebodied; including this one by Germany’s Franz Prahl. It was born a Cabriolet C. Bonham’s sale estimate is a realistic $950,000 – $1,325,000. That might be exceeded. If it were one of the 29 original long-tail roadsters SLML would put its 2015 sale estimate at $11 – $14 million.
There are two Maybachs in the sale. Wilhlem Maybach started his career as an apprentice to Gottlieb Daimler. He is credited with several Mercedes innovations still in use, the radiator among them. Maybach outlived Daimler & went on to build V12 dirigible engines for Count Zeppelin and, with his son, formed an autombile company after WWI. In the 1930s Maybach, like Mercedes & Packard, offered more affordable models. The Maybach SW-38 was one of these cars. Its Spohn design gave true meaning to the term “fitted luggage” (below). Not shown is a second open-top Maybach sporting a V12 engine that had the dubious distinction in its first life of being a gift to the Maharajah of Patiala and Raj Pramukh by Adolf Hitler. When WWII started the Maharajah still sided with the Allies.
This 1933 Maybach Zeppelin is by Spohn, but was a 7 passenger open-back “transformable” limousine in it’s first life, discovered in Hungary by well-known German classic car dealer Eberhard Thiesen. Thiesen oversaw a mechanical and body restoration based on drawings of another Spohn roadster. Sale estimate: $1.3 – 1.5 M .