It was supposed to be one of the crown jewels in RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale, but the Porsche ‘Type 64’ is now making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The car was expected to go for around $20 million, but the auction ended up starting at $30 million on Saturday evening. Incredibly, bidding reached $70 million - had the car gone for that, it would have been the most expensive to sell at auction by over $20m. And then the confusion hit.
The auctioneer corrected himself, saying that the top bid was $17 million. The opening bid was supposed to be $13m, not 30. No more bids rolled in after the display was correct to the lower figure.
The auction still went through, although the reserve wasn’t meant. Due to this bizarre blunder, then, the Type 64 has failed to change hands.
In a statement made to Bloomberg, RM Sotheby’s said: “As bidding opened on the Type 64, increments were incorrectly displayed on the screen, causing unfortunate confusion in the room”. It described the events as an “unfortunate misunderstanding amplified by excitement in the room.”
The 1939 Type 64 predates what Porsche considers to be the year of its birth by nearly a decade. Although not everyone agrees on whether it can be considered the ‘first Porsche’ (officially that honour goes to the 356 ‘No.1’ Roadster), it is an extremely significant car. The 356; the 911; the Boxster; it all started here.
Conceived by Prof. Dr. Ferdinand, the Type 64 used many VW Beetle parts in its construction, including an air-cooled flat-four engine. Much of it was bespoke, though, including the bodywork, the outer skin of which is held on with 2000 rivets.
It was built to compete in the Berlin to Rome road race, an event intended to celebrate Nazi Germany’s alliance with Fascist Italy.
Only three were built, with the Monterey car being the only surviving example. One 64 was ‘acquired’ by US Seventh Army ‘Rainbow’ division soldiers, who chopped off the roof to make a makeshift convertible, scrapping it after blowing up the engine.