Fafard Collection is Hot Property at Bonhams Amelia Island Auction

A magnificent 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Spezial Roadster leads the Fafard Collection of some of the finest pre-war and Brass Era automobiles belonging to the late Howard Fafard, a noted real estate developer in Massachusetts, to be offered at the Bonhams Amelia Island Auction on May 20.

Mr. Fafard was a long-time collector of the finest European marques, with a particular passion for Mercedes-Benz. The 500/540K Spezial lived up to its name as the top of the line offering from the German manufacturer during the 1930s, with its supercharged performance, more than matched by the stylish lines created by in-house coachbuilder Sindelfingen and superb passenger comfort. The roadster has been coveted by leading collectors and connoisseurs ever since.

The Spezial offered was ordered new as a 500K to the unique specification of a Dr. Alfons Sack of Berlin, which included a plethora of chrome accents to the bodywork and a 'waterfall' front grille. Two years later, he also oversaw an engine upgrade, returning the Spezial to the Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart factory for the more powerful 540K unit to be fitted.

Had it not been rediscovered in the 1970s in a barn in Poznan, Poland by two Swedish car hunters, its history may have been very different. Although dismantled, it was complete, except for its fuel cap and was subsequently restored to its former glory by its former custodian who owned it for more than 40 years. The Spezial was acquired by Mr. Fafard in Bonhams 2014 Mercedes Benz Sale in Stuttgart, where it was sold to benefit two Swedish charities for cancer and Alzheimer's research.

1928 Mercedes-Benz 630K 'La Baule' Torpedo, estimate $1,100,000 – 1,250,000

The Spezial is offered at Amelia Island along with another superlative Stuttgart stablemate, a rare 1928 630K 'La Baule' Torpedo, estimate $1,100,000 - 1,250,000. The Ferdinand Porsche-designed 640K, the fastest road car of its time thanks to its 6.4-liter supercharged engine, was married to the high-quality barrel sided 'torpedo' convertible body by celebrated coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik to create the 'La Baule' variant.

One of only a handful of survivors, the Torpedo offered was delivered new to the USA. For many years, it was kept in the Los Angeles 'Pacific Auto Rentals' collection, which supplied motor cars to the Hollywood movie studios, and had a cameo role in the film Under Suspicion. It later belonged to the Craven Foundation Collection in Toronto, before being acquired by Howard Fafard in 2016.

The Fafard Carriage Collection

The Fafard Collection represents not only the golden age of automotive history, but also the evolution of personal transport from horse drawn carriages to horseless carriages and the dawn of the automobile industry, which held a particular fascination for Mr. Fafard.

A selection of 19th century carriages is offered, produced by the most notable builders of their day, including Brewster & Co of New York and the Hume Carriage Company of Amesbury, Massachusetts, which was the hub of carriage construction at the time.

The highlights of this historical group are a majestic Mountain Touring Coach by Boccardi E Alessio of Turin, estimate $125,000 – 150,000, which formerly resided in the Coson-Lampton Collection, and a Private Omnibus by Million & Guiet, estimate $80,000 - 100,000, understood to have been owned by the Bugatti Family, as well as noted collector Baron Casier.

Further highlights:

1933 Chrysler Imperial Model CL Dual Cowl Phaeton, coachwork by LeBaron, estimate $550,000 – 675,000

Chrysler's top of the line Imperial was aimed squarely at the luxury market and this particular automobile was, fittingly, ordered new by Marjorie Merriweather Post, pioneer businesswoman and founder of the General Foods empire. The dual cowl or double cockpit coachwork, evoking the era's mahogany speedboats, was designed by the feted LeBaron Carrossiers of New York.

Retained by Post through her third marriage to Joseph Davies, and later given to one of his daughters, Eleanor Tydings Davies, the Imperial was later owned by other noted collectors before arriving in the Fafard Collection in the late 1990s.

At that point it was mid-restoration, a rebuild which Mr. Fafard had completed to its current guise. Appropriately, it was displayed at Post's former home, Mar-A-Lago, in Florida in 2011. The Imperial is now offered publicly for the first time with an estimate of $550,000 – 675,000.

1912 Crane Model 3 Four Passenger Sport Landaulette, estimate $275,000 – 325,000

New Jersey based Crane Motor Car Company produced the earliest luxury automobiles, with the running gear and chassis of the Model 3 costing in the region of $8,000, before a bespoke coach built body was commissioned.

This particular Crane was one of three ordered new by prominent New York philanthropist Helen Hartley Jenkins, with a compact sporting owner/driver Sport Landau body by a local coachbuilder, F.R. Wood & son.

The Model 3 is one of two survivors from the 37-car production run and was rediscovered by noted historian Fred Roe in the 1950s who oversaw its restoration and kept it until the 1990s when it was acquired by Howard Fafard.

The Bonhams Amelia Island Auction 2021 will be held as a traditional live auction at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club on Thursday, May 20, with bids accepted from clients in the room (respecting social distancing and all local COVID-related guidelines), with limited public admission by prior appointment.

The sale will also be streamed and available on the Bonhams App, which provides registered bidders the opportunity to bid in real time online via Bonhams.com while watching the auctioneer and videos of cars on offer. Absentee and telephone bids are also encouraged.

Pre-sale viewing will take place at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club on May 19 and the morning of May 20.

Contact: [email protected] to register.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewelry. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit bonhams.com.


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