Fall means lots of things from back-to-school, apple picking, and halloween but perhaps the best event of all is Audrain Newport Concours and Motorweek. Every fall, some of the worlds most rare, historic, beautiful and weird cars invade the quiet streets of Newport, Rhode Island. The famous Breakers Mansion, and the Tennis Hall of Fame plus a few other nearby destinations are the staging ground for what has become a can’t-miss event in the car world. Below are just some of my favorites from my time at the Audrain Concours:
1952 Mercedes-Benz 300SL W194 Le Mans Winner
This 300SL is chassis number 07/52 hand built at the Mercedes factory in the Spring of 1952. The car took second place in its race debut at Mille Miglia. Later that year, this very 300SL became the first ever German car to win the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Today, it’s still the first and only factory built Mercedes to ever win 24 Hours of Le Man and inspired the production of the iconic road-going 300SL Gullwing. Currently, this is 1 of 2 W194 race cars outside of the Mercedes Benz Museum, the other eight cars are all housed at the Mercedes Benz factory. The current owner had the car restored to its factory racing specs via Mercedes-Benz and value is estimated to be upwards of $15million USD.
1953 Ferrari 250 MM Berlinetta 0258MM
Representing a piece of history from one of motorsports most storied brands is this Ferrari 250 MM. This car raced at Mille Miglia in 1953, the Coppa D’Oro Dolomiti and the 12 hours of Pescara. Today, average value sits at about $4.5million USD.
1948 Cisitalia 202 SMM Nuvolari Spyder
Built to honor the race winning 202 Sypder Mille Miglia, only 26 ‘Nuvolari’ Spyders were built, this being chassis # 017. The car is nicknamed Nuvolari, in honor of its driver Tazio Nuvolari. This car still has its original chassis, body and drivetrain. Examples of this car have sold for upwards of $700,000 USD.
1960 Auto Union 1000 SP Coupe
A beautiful car, with a fascinating story. In 2007, this 1000 SP Coupe was traded into Sewickley Audi in Pittsburgh, PA for a new Audi A6. Previously, this car was owned by a German race car driver, who raced throughout Europe before crashing the car in the late 70s. It found its way to the US where it was finally purchased from the Pittsburgh dealership and restored during the COVID19 pandemic. A well restored Auto Union 1000 SP Coupe fetches around $30,000 USD.
1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe
The 300SL holds an important place in automotive history. This 300SL is one of the first two 300SL’s to EVER be built. The two SL’s were shipped to Hollywood to showcase the latest and greatest in vehicles. Mercury Marine founder, Carl Kiekaefer, purchased the 300SL and proceeded to use the car as a daily driver for himself and family. The current owner, purchased the car from Karl in 1691 for $2,000, a rusty Chevy, bike, and a loaf bread. At the time of purchase, the 300SL was in inoperable condition due to a collision with a Turkey and had sat for many months. The car was meticulously restored back to its original specifications. Value today for a non-historic Mercedes 300SL Coupe sits at around $1.5million USD.
1955 Ghia Streamline X 2-Door Coupe
Yes, it gets it power by a jet turbine and it’s the only one the world. This wild, futuristic car debuted at the 1955 Turin Auto Show. Since, the car has been maintained by the Ford Museum and now currently a private owner. The aluminum body was designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi and came to fruition at the request of Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner who wanted to explore rear-grip and cross-wind resistance. The 70hp turbine is claimed to be able to propel the car to 160 mph, however it’s never been put to the test. Recently, the car was up for auction at Barret-Jackson in 2017, however it did not meet reserve. Today, value is upwards of $1.5million.
1938 Delage D8-120 De Villars Roadster (Best in Show Winner)
This stunning French coach-built car drove over 300 miles from Vermont to Newport, Rhode Island for the Audrain Concours. That alone is worthy of an award. The car debuted in 1938 at Concours de l’Auto de Printemps. The De Villas roadster went on to to win Best in Show and later sold for over $7,o00. This made it one of the worlds most expensive cars. Later, the car made its way to the United States in the 1960’s where it was then restored and resold. Today, the car has won numerous Best in Show awards including the Pebble Beach Concours and at shows throughout Europe. Average value is just around $1million USD.
1931 Duesenberg Model J Durham Tourster Dual Cowl Phaeton
This colorful and rare Model J has been with the same museum since 1965. The Heritage Museum & Gardens had restored the car to its original color scheme of Primerose Yellow and Parkway Green. Famous Hollywood actor Gary Cooper was the original owner and would race around Hollywood in the car. Rare and luxurious features for the time included an instrument cluster on the dashboard and service reminder lights. According to Heritage Museum & Gardens, who currently owns the car, value is near $300,000 USD.