Tycoons' Cars on the Auction Block


  • 1910 Renault Towncar Picture

    1910 Renault Towncar Picture

    A 1910 Renault Towncar once owned by John Jacob Astor IV will cross the auction block on May 31. | May 24, 2013

2 Photos

Just the Facts:
  • A 1910 Renault Towncar once owned by John Jacob Astor IV will be up for auction on May 31.
  • Also on the auction block is a 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I bought new by J.P. Morgan, Jr.
  • The Dragone spring auction will feature 65 vehicles up for bid, but most without the cachet of those famous names.

WESTPORT, Connecticut — Cars owned by John Jacob Astor IV and J.P. Morgan, Jr. will headline a catalog of 65 high-end vehicles up for bid at the second annual Dragone spring auction on May 31.

One of the most intriguing is Astor's unrestored 1910 Renault Towncar with custom coachwork by Moore & Munger of New York City. It features plenty of brass and wood trim, furniture-grade upholstery, privacy shades and a "voice tube" for communication with the chauffeur.

Astor, a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world, only drove the car at his summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island, so it saw very little use. After his death in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the car passed through the hands of several collectors.

Another amazing car on the Dragone block will be a 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I originally owned by J.P. Morgan, Jr. Powered by a 7.7-liter six-cylinder engine, it has undergone several changes in its lifetime, including a recent repaint to the original French gray color.

Banker and philanthropist J.P. Morgan, Jr., originally bought the car with sedan coachwork by Brewster, the main body suppliers to Rolls-Royce in the U.S. But according to records in Dragone's possession, Morgan had the body replaced annually until the mid-1930s. It's currently bodied as a Piccadilly Roadster, just as it was sold by Morgan in 1939.

Other cars in the Dragone spring catalog are equally impressive, including a 1929 Bugatti Type 40, a 1934 Duesenberg Continental Touring Berline, a Cord, a couple Packards and a few classic Cadillacs. There's even a Penske Indycar driven by Gordon Johncock to a 3rd-place finish in the 1979 Indianapolis 500. But none of them have quite the cachet of cars owned by American royalty like Astor and Morgan.

Edmunds says: If you're in the mood for a Gatsbyesque auction this spring, Dragone has just the ticket.

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