Monday, October 05, 2015


One of two Brough Superior SS100 'kits'; this one a 1927 Alpine Grand Sports
I've been as guilty as the next 'good intentions' collector of hauling boxes of rare motorcycle bits from home to home over the decades, intending to restore them when I had time.  In truth, a lot of interesting motorcycles were preserved by pulling them to pieces, and are waiting for skilled hands to put them back together.  One benefit from the serious uptick in the price of rare machines is it makes financial sense, at least, to give a machine a first-class restoration, even if it's missing parts or is an absolute wreck.  Several 'kit' Brough Superiors and a Matchless V-4, plus the odd rough Vincent Series A single and some old GP racers in need of serious love are coming up for sale at the Bonhams Stafford sale Oct 17/18th.
A former kit, now complete: a 1938 Vincent-HRD Series A Rapide, built from parts with a replica frame.  Perhaps the last 'bargain' Series A twin?  A repro frame hardly matters when you're hammering down the road...
I believe this is the biggest Stafford sale on record, with around 350 machines to be sold over two days.  The Saturday auction is reserved exclusively for the Lonati collection of early American machines, which rivals the EJ Cole sale last Spring as a blockbuster of collecting.  Lots of very early Harley-Davidsons, including several 'Teens models, plus a few '20s JDH hotrods, and Indians, several Excelsior-Henderson 4s, Pierces, Reading-Standards, etc, make for a really interesting lineup.
GH Tyrell-Smith's ex-Works 1932 TT Rudge 350, in need of some attention, but with solid gold provenance, as shown aviating over Ballagh bridge in the Isle of Man in 1932
Sunday's sale is has, as mentioned, several amazing 'kits', including two Brough Superior SS100s from the 1920s JAP era, plus complete Broughs, a bunch of Mondial GP and Rumi flat twins, and Bonhams' usual range of bikes from the 'Noughts through the '70s, with a lot of barn find and incomplete machines to tempt tinkerers.  Take a look at the online catalog for the Saturday Lonati and Sunday sales; I'm already trying to decide what I need to bid on!  Too much cool stuff...
American Royalty; a 1910 Pierce 4 of 688cc, beautifully restored
Speed Demon; a 1916 Henderson 4-cylinder, the 'Deusenberg of Motorcycles'.  Take that, George!

Your eyes do not deceive you; this bike is wrong, and gloriously weird.  Part of a grand American tradition of stretching 4-cylinder motorcycles with two extras, just for good measure.  The builder/provenance is unknown on this 1924 Excelsior-Henderson 6, but it took a lot of work to make it! 

1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sports project.  Yes please. 

All the parts, plus rare spares, needed to build up a Matchless Silver Hawk V4 

The mucked-about state of the '27 Brough Superior SS100, fitted with a twin-cam SS80 motor at some point in Australia.  All Brough, and now it's all being sorted out...

Yet another Brough kit; a 1931 680 OHV 'Black Alpine' model

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


[Words and contemporary images provided by Colin West - historic research and editing by pd'o]
A 1922 shot of DF Fitzgerald on a Norton 16H with sidecar - look at that crowd!  And the lack of spectator barriers on the rough dirt road...
In the heart of Buckinghamshire Country, deep in the British countryside, the Kop Hill Climb is among the most historic of all road races. The first race was held in 1910 as a test of machinery on the unpaved, winding road up the tallest local hill. The course begins gently, but the mid-section is a 1-in-6 grade (17%), and steepens to 1-in4 at the end (25%), which seemed nearly insurmountable in those early years of single-speeders with slipping belt drives.
Freddie Dixon on one of his own creations - a Works racing Douglas TT Model 500cc flat-twin with tuned OHV engine, here being aviated at the top of the hill
Over the 15 years of its original existence, many famous names competed, on many long-gone marques, once bathed in glory from such competition – Duzmo, Motosacoche, Zenith, Douglas, etc. By the early 1920s, he event became more a speed trial than endurance run, as machinery grew multiple gears and respectable horsepower, and riders like Freddie Dixon, the original Iron Man, flew up the final steep section, catching big air at the top of the hill, setting record times. A variety of events, car and motorcycle, were held on this lonely stretch of road, including local owner’s clubs, University racing teams (Oxford seemed especially keen), and allcomers races.
Plenty of women raced too; this is Mrs. DeLissa on a Ladies' Model Motosacoche in 1913.  Her husband was the British importer for Motosacoche in those early years - read more here on the marque.
As the power of vehicles increased by the 1920s, the skill of the rider/driver became critical, and with no ‘test’ for entrants, the quality of some competitors was sub-par, and accidents drew negative attention from both press and government. By 1925, Kop Hill was in a precarious spot, and an accident that year - a spectator refused to move from an unsafe spot and was struck by a car, breaking his leg – put an end not only to this event, but all racing on public roads in Britain. Kop Hill was thus the last race held on a public road, and sprints/hillclimbs moved onto sympathetic private estates for the next half century.
The immortal Bert LeVack in 1920, here with a Duzmo-JAP single.  LeVack was the development engineer for JAP, and later Motosacoche.
Kop Hill was revived in 2009 as a non-competitive ‘parade’, and this year saw over 400 historic cars and motorcycles tackling the famous hill, and many more displayed in the paddock. Vehicles range in age from the early 1900’s to modern day exotics, and included the amazing crowd-puller Napier-Railton from the Brooklands Museum. This huge 24 litre, two-ton goliath is an awesome sight, and with a top speed of over 165mph, it had no trouble on the hill. Another star was the 1922 Isle of Man TT winning Sunbeam Grand Prix car, joined by a replica of the 1936 6.7L Cummins-Railton Special, the Napier-Railton, and the 1922 7.2L Leyland-Thomas No.1 recreation.
A 1932 Scott Flying Squirrel smokes off the line
Kop Hill is a charity event, and in addition to the stunning machinery, there’s a challenge for the local school kids on a ‘soap box’ circuit, where future motoring stars can cut their teeth under the guidance of motoring legends such as Paddy Hopkirk, a regular supporter of the Kop Hill event. Youngsters (and oldsters) can also ride a traditional steam-powered Merry-Go-Round and a Helter-Skelter. Charity stalls, food, bars and the famous ‘Wall of Death’ stunt riders make this a low-key alternative to Goodwood in September.
Historic land speed racers and Brooklands giants thundering up the hill in parade
Amongst the motorcycles this year was a stunning Brough Model W flat-twin (featured on, which was recreated from the 1922 drawings by Dave Clark, after he sourced the original engine – it’s a unique machine. Richard Duffin was seen to abuse the rear tyre of his 1932 Scott before disappearing up the hill in a cloud of smoke, closely followed by a gun-toting Alastair Flanagan on his 1944 Harley WLA in full military livery. Amongst the various two-strokes were two extremes of the Scott design with a 1977 Silk 70ss ridden by George Silk and a 1929 two-speeder Scott Super Squirrel ridden by Bob Woodman. For fans of historic cars and motorcycles being used ‘as the maker intended’, Kop Hill is an event in rare company.
Dave Clark's W.E.Brough flat-twin racer re-creation - read more here.
Early 1920s Scott 2-speeder of the type originally raced at Kop
The event originally included plenty of touring cars, although this Frazer Nash 'Byfleet' was a hot rod
The business department of a 1922 Sunbeam 8-cylinder 3L DOHC motor
The 1933 Napier-Railton 24L aero-engine beast

The Soap Box Derby was a hit with future road racers
Youngest on oldest - a 1900 Singer bolt-on motorized wheel
1910: B.A. Hill on a 2 3/4hp Douglas - looks lonely!
1910: W.A. Cooper on a 3.5hp Bradbury at speed
A Distinguished Gentleman - H.V. Colver in 1913 aboard a rare v-twin 2 3/4hp Royal Enfield with all-chain drive 
In the early years, the rider was weighed as well as the bike.  This is the 1913 weigh-in.
Not a Ladies' Model - the 17 year old daughter of Cyril Pullin, one of the first women to gain a motorcycle license in Britain, aboard a hotrod Zenith-JAP with a 2.5hp OHV racing engine
1914 competitors; Ms Berend and Ms.Davies sheltering from a deluge that year.  I presume Ms Davies was the daughter of 'Ixion', the famous writer for The Motor Cycle, and author of 'Motorcycle Reminiscence' and 'Motorcycle Cavalcade', both of which are fascinating accounts of coping with very early motorcycles, from a talented writer.
1920; a Mr Wallace rides a Duzmo (read more here) with very wide handlebars, as Dr. Archibal Low officiates.  Low was later known for his rocket-powered motorcycle experiments!  See more here

The inimitable Archie Frazer-Nash piloting a 8.7L GN racer in 1923 - her name was 'Kim II'
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015


The 1927 H-D FHA racer, with its racing sidecar, little more than a padded platform.  A remarkable original-condition racer from the end of the first Golden Age of American racing
It happens every year; an ultra-rare motorcycle is loosed from the cold, dead hands of a collector, and the 'Net is abuzz with the certainty that THIS, finally, is the Million Dollar Baby.  Some odd mix of voyeurism and knowier-than-thou-ness compels us to excitedly proclaim the staggering rise in blue chip bike prices, while making a show of decrying the very same thing.  The truth is, very few people are savvy enough to know what a blue chip bike is, and fewer still combine that knowledge with a willingness to take a risk and open their wallet.  Prices have risen since the 1950s or the '80s or the 2000s, but the story remains the same - the folks who know and care and want important machines find where they're hiding and buy them.  The folks actually shelling out the big bucks today aren't complaining, because they've known for decades that ultra rare motorcycles are undervalued.  [For a little comparison shopping, check out my list of the World's Most Expensive Motorcycles]
A handsome and purposeful outfit.
The latest gem making the rounds of Instagram (and TheVintagent!) is this just unearthed, single-family for 50 years Harley-Davidson FHA 8-valve racer, which is documented and in as-last-raced condition.  Huzzah; a no-bull 1920s Class A racer which doesn't appear to have been messed with or faked up, like nearly all the others of its ilk.  Hilariously, some of the folks who've sold less than perfect American racers in the past few years have shown their hands with this machine, praising its originality and the importance thereof, while no such praise was possible for their own bikes!  But that's the reality of most old racers - they're usually compromised in the very areas collectors prize most; matching #s, original sheet metal, clear provenance.  When presented with a machine with all boxes ticked, the temperature rises.
The raised ring cast into the timing cover is the giveaway for a 4-cam timing chest.  The oil pump is the horizontal cylinder behind that ring.  Note the exhaust valve lifter emerging from the front of the case, operated by a small lever below the fuel tank.   Although there are no bicycle cranks, a bicycle foot pedal is still used - a rider's affectation or original to the machine?
This FHA is among the last of the factory 8-valves produced by Harley-Davidson, as they were already experimenting with more reliable ways of producing power, and more, the American Class A race series was about to vanish due to the Depression, in favor of Class C, which was production-based and therefore much cheaper for everyone, favoring 'mundane' sidevalve engines instead of 'exotic' OHVs.  Of course, factories across the pond had been producing fast and reliable OHV bikes in increasing numbers since the 'Teens for everyday use, but American buyers trusted valves on the side, but that's another story.
A nice engine shot showing the primary chain oiler, the ignition wires which thread between the barrels, and two further oil lines, one presumably to the rear of the front cylinder barrel, the other to the oil pump on the timing chest.  Note also the small strap keeping the manual advance cable away from the exhaust.  The carb is a racing Schebler - can one of my American racer experts fill in the type?
The FHA used a twin-camshaft timing chest, externally distinguished by the raised ring on the timing cover, which of course meant better valve control and thus higher revs and more power.  The revs were also made possible by the good airflow of the 4-valve cylinder heads, which took advantage of the gas-flow research of Sir Harry Ricardo, which proved many small valves pass more air than two big ones.  But without positive lubrication and the oil cooling it provides, a grease-lubed 4-valve cylinder head is a fragile thing, even with the rocker gear exposed to the airflow... plus dirt, cinders, and dust when raced on the Australian tracks this beast has seen.
This machine is coming up for auction at Shannon's auction house on Sept. 21st, and I'll keep an eye on the sale.
[Update: the FHA sold for A$600k, which was $423,700US on the day, making it the #10 most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction}

A good shot of the struts attached to the early H-D forks, which help prevent flexing under the huge side loads from a sliding sidecar. Note also the small steering damper and slotted plate just below the top fork clamps.  The handlebar bend is standar for board trackers.
Fantastic patina.
The FHA was delivered new to the Milledge Bros Harley-Davidson in Melbourne, Australia.
A period shot of the outfit, showing the braced forks, and the canted wheel angle for sliding on dirt tracks. 
The simple direct-drive system is clear, with a countershaft running in a robust casting at the bottom of the frame, which holds the clutch and final drive sprocket. One speed!
For moto-geeks; note the attachment of the sidecar to a U shaped late and the reinforced engine plates up front.  Plus the extensively ribbed drive-side crankcase.  There's a direct oil line to the (missing) primary chain.
The oval port of the late 8-valve motor is clear, as is the single-rocker system used on a simple, pent-roof combustion chamer.  All exposed, of course, to whatever dirt is thrown up by the track.  Also clear is the camshaft layout, with side-by-side pushrods emerging from the timing chest - a cam for each cylinder, plus the crankshaft oiling line emerging from the front of the motor.
1927 FHA #81...not that they built so many! 

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Sunday, August 23, 2015


Alain deCadenet aboard the ex-John Edgar, Rollie Free 'bathing suit' Vincent, one of the world's most famous motorcycles 

The outlook wasn't brilliant for a Pebble judge that day,
As bikes stood proudly two by two, all winners - so they say.
And then a gent claimed Gunga Din was faked up, though a looker,
And partly by a judge there, a good man who is no hooker.
But Gunga, true to Kipling's muse, did sally forth, a win,
While lovers of old Rollie Free's machine called it a sin.
That year another prize was took, a streamlined Indian,
T'was claimed to be from Burt Munro, but some said ‘guess again’.
What part was Burt's and what part new, nobody there would tell,
But surely he who built the thing is answerable to Hell.
The recreation of the famous Vincent racer 'Gunga Din'
A silence like a cloak covers the patrons of this game,
The millions stashed from ticket sales protecting them from shame.
A straggling few raised protest for the fakery, and more -
The bolstering of class divides was something to abhor.
Some clung yet to hope which springs eternal in our breast;
They thought, “Surely Pebble Beach will always do its best.
While motorcars are one thing, motorbikes are something new,
Perhaps a whole new game's afoot, Class X is now on view!”
The Guggenheim had sung their praise, the Art of Motorcycles;
The Legends Show had proved that bikes on grass could be delightful.
An Excelsior Super X racer, built of a mix of old and new parts, and patinated to look well-used
Cycling through each country who'd built bikes in times before,
Was the theme at Pebble Beach on hallowed golf link shores.
But country categories surely limited the choices,
Unlike grouping cars by factory - Ferraris and Rolls Royces.
The country theme as annual display proved ill-considered,
Though those first few nations featured proved their bike were worthy winners.
Collectors spent a bundle prepping rare machines to show,
Like the Hildebrand and Wolfmuller that simply wouldn’t go.
The year of Italy’s display was best, with bikes after the ‘Thirties,
My MV pic was in the New York Times, ‘cause of John Surtees.
The French lineup, included several lightweights of mixed quality.
A few years in, the choice grew thin, as was indeed the entry,
One year they featured Vietnam, with one sad rolling sentry.
The French theme fell as flat as a meringue from a hack chef,
We shan't speak of Eastern Europe's year; good possibles were left
In museums and collections far across the ocean's span,
It seems foreigner collectors did not support the plan.
“Fly in your bike, at your own cost, of course,” they all were told,
Which - from the richest of all shows - seemed brazen, crass, and bold.
American collectors had been told but did ignore it,
That racers run on pavement since the ‘Teens were most historic.
Their dirt-track kings and board track bikes were hounded to obsession,
Which meant when Pebble called ‘GP!’ there’s none in their collections.
My photograph of John Surtees aboard his World Championship MV Agusta was used in a New York Times article decrying his lack of knighthood for his double World Championship status, on cars and bikes - still the only man to have done this.
There was a time not long ago when motorbikes were fashion,
And car collectors far and wide declared a new-found passion,
For motorbikes collectible, much cheaper than four wheels,
And set about to write big checks for seven-figure deals.
With polished skin and suits that cost as much as a new ride,
They suddenly appeared at auctions, advisors by their side,
Who earned commissions from the Millions in old-bike finance,
By overlooking inconvenient truths ‘bout provenance.
But 6 years on, the thrill is gone, and car folks have decided,
That tin and doors and solid floors is what gets them excited.
Organizer Sandra and her minions sniffed the trends,
So earlier this year decreed that Pebble bikes would end.
A nautical theme!  Rumi made submarines and torpedos in WW2... hence the anchor logo
Oh, somewhere on a twisty road the sun is shining bright,
A motorbike is purring and the rider's found delight,
With the joy of simply riding an old bike - though valued highly -
The ownership of which marks vintagents as money-wily.
True joy from motorbikes is motion, not the money game,
Though bikes in galleries these days would not suggest the same.
Two wheels make lousy sculptures; better riding them around,
The greedy types are merely vultures, much like car guys, I have found.
The Concours thing is tempting with big money all about,
But there is no joy from Pebble — motorbikes are pencilled out.
Christine Reed graces John Stein's amazing Ducati Imola racer
[And in case you don't read the excellent publication 'The Automobile' from England - the best old-car magazine in the world - I wrote the following account of the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours on their request.  I didn't expect them to publish it, at least not without serious editing, but editor Jonathan Rishton chose to print it 100% as written, saying, "Thanks for the report. It is superb - one of the best, most insightful and honest things we'll have ever published. Thanks so much." Nothing has changed at Pebble since then, except the raising of ticket prices to $350, and the elimination of motorcycles. Enjoy the read - it's a scandal!]

Exotic car design emphasized swelling curves from the '30s onwards

c.Paul d'Orléans 2013

Welcome to Pebble Beach, a grand celebration of the important things in life; status, wealth, tiered access, covetousness, and the need for a good hat. The Devil is at play on that green seaside lawn, tempting car enthusiasts worldwide towards the very worst reasons to enjoy old automobiles, and having quite a successful run at it. Just as Capital currently reigns unchallenged over our globe, so Pebble is the acknowledged King of Concours d’Elegance. Pebble Beach Sunday has become, in a world of exciting youth culture battling threats of economic, environmental, and military calamity, a strange 1% Otherworld, a money-cushioned respite from reality, for a mere $225 admission ($275 at the gate).
The Paul Poiret-designed interior fabric for Voisin cars - not to be viewed on psychedelic drugs! 
D’Elegance it is not, unless your definition includes constant elbow-bashing and the impossibility of getting a clear photograph of a car you like…at least Pebble’s photo-bombers are well dressed, and if you’re crafty, will include a revealingly dressed trophy wife. Huzzah. I find it hard to find joy in this event; the cars are magnificent, the best examples of over-the-top design in the world without question, but surely I am not a voice in the wilderness in finding it crass, materialistic, horribly boring and an overcrowded clusterfuck.
Pebble is an opportunity for period-correct dress, for some
Let me rephrase that: Pebble Beach is no joy to attend, although one is pampered as an entrant. The price of admission to that club varies by your ambition and your pocketbook; a savvy choice of an obscure but important vehicle might not be expensive at all – you may already own one – but positioning yourself for an ‘invitation’ is another matter, and will require connections to the right people. Or at least, in the four-wheel categories… a back door has opened in the last 5 years for collectors of important motorcycles, which are only as expensive as good cars were 25 years ago; ie, generally under $100k.
'In the Spring a young man's fancy turns lightly to thoughts of abolishing the tax on Capital Gains'
That will change of course, but for now, if you’re really hankering to stand beside a vehicle all day, waiting for judges to pore over your machine, then waiting some more to find if you’ve placed, then a motorcycle is the way to go. This year would have been the perfect opportunity, actually, as the motorcycle theme was ‘French’.  If you’re not from that country, I challenge you to name more than four French motorcycle manufacturers. Don’t feel bad, neither could the Pebble organizers, who failed to round up prime examples of French engineering prowess - the exotic overhead-cams, the racers, the multi-valves, the incredible range of ‘firsts’ from the early years, when France dominated vehicular achievement on land and in the air. No significant history was in evidence.
Too much love; over-rubbed in sensitive places?
The earliest two-wheeler on the lawn was the only good reason to visit Class X; the 1929 Majestic was a unique example, having an American four-cylinder Cleveland engine completely enclosed in Deco-sausage bodywork, with car-like hub center steering; a two-wheeled Facel Vega.  The Majestic was produced 63 years into the lineage of French motorcycling (a genre they invented, after all, in 1867), which leaves a whole lot of unexplained history in a tiny field of only 9 motorcycles. It was simply embarrassing.  I say let’s just forget this pathetic attempt at ‘inclusion’; motorcycles ARE the new black, but nobody’s wearing black at Pebble. Or perhaps, let’s ask Karl Lagerfeld to curate the next motorcycle exhibit, and cut the pretense to relevance, or History, or whatever.
Birds shedding feathers.
The automotive display included a stretch of competition-minded Porsche 911s to celebrate that squidgy little darling’s 50th birthday, and I must say we’ve grown old well together. It’s lovely seeing full-scale the Corgi Porsches I vroomed as a lad, although if one took a 20 minute drive from the golf club lawn, one could see, hear, and smell some of the very same cars being hammered around Laguna Seca raceway in the Monterey Historics, where megamillion Ferraris are spun into barriers and semi-genteel Aston Martins bash each other’s noses.  The damage inflicted on these glorious beasts is costly, like every one of the 40,000 spectators lighting a joint with a $10 bill. Still, I’d rather watch the beasts howling and writhing and stressing themselves, than parked on a lawn.
Our man deCadenet 'splaining an Alfa 8C, an example of which he's owned for donkey's ears
An excellent Pebble development is the ever-expanding ‘preservation’ classes (L-1 and L-2, pre- and postwar), which means somebody at Pebble has heard the clarion call of the Oily Rag. Hallelujah. My favorite rust-bucket was an original-paint Voisin, complete with dents, which was dutifully polished all day long, one assumes to help remove more areas of paint for the ‘perfect patina’. The interior, I was assured, was in the original leather, and not the eye-watering Paul Poiret Art Deco mescaline nightmare found in every single restored Voisin; they’ve really come out of the woodwork since winning ‘everything’ in the past 2 years.
Further over-loved; a Voisin in original paint, but perhaps not original interior?  Although it was old...
I was slightly vexed by an Aston Martin DB5 in supposedly original paint, its anthracite grey exterior looking fairly immaculate barring rubbed-thru patches where clearly ‘over-loved’ by the polishing rag…or was this new paint, artfully distressed? The thought disturbed me, the more so when I overheard a Preservation class entrant describing the purchase of a junked car’s faded leather interior, which he placed in his own car, as it looked better. Creatively ‘original’, but certainly not ‘preserved’, unless we count an aggregation of vintage parts as ‘original’ in toto…at which point, there’ll be no need to lock up the guns, my mind will have already been blown.
'If you come any closer, I'll whack you with my vintage stacked-agate walking stick.'
It’s a not-joke that only black cars win Best in Show at Pebble Beach [2015 too! - pd'o], and this year was no exception; the 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria was the first American car to win the grand prize since 2007.  It was big and grand and utterly unique, partly because America was starving at the time, out of work with a 40% unemployment rate.  Brother, can you spare a coachbuilt Packard?
Top of the Money Tree, even in an odd shade of green; a Ferrari 250GTO in a Billion dollar lineup
Today, if the owner falls on hard times, he can always follow the path of last year’s winner, who sold his 2012 Best in Show ’28 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster for a cool $8.25M on the weekend. That was nothing, of course, compared to the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider, which sold for a chart-busting $27.5M…shades of pre-Crash giddiness. “It’s almost 2014: do you know where your investments are?”
The ex-John Surtees Ferrari normally found in the Barber Museum
 The Centenary of Aston Martin did not pass unnoticed, and a lovely stretch of racers and roadsters were nearly camouflaged by the British racing green lawn, although the insect-yellow flash of a ’57 DBR2 kept bumblers alert.  Its livery was matched by a new Aston CC100 Speedster prototype, shown in the ‘Concept Car Corral’ on the Lodge lawn, and looking a lot like BMW’s ‘328 nouveaux’ concept débuted in 2011, but sexier.  Bugatti brought a special-edition Veyron for display at an invite-only party, and a pair of gilded guests had a bidding brawl on the spot, resulting in the $2.7M car which wasn’t for sale leaving the premises for nearly $3.5M. Wallets thrown at 10 paces; may the best oligarch win. The piss-taking side events like the Monterey Concours d’LeMons are looking like a better bet every year…