Late January marks the official start of collector car sales season, with major auction houses sponsoring events in Scottsdale, Arizona. Interest is particularly high this year for a trio of sold celebrities: Dustin Hoffman’s 1949 Buick Convertible, which made a starring appearance in rain man; an over-the-top but underrated ’80s Italian supercar owned by famed music producer and soundtrack composer Giorgio Moroder; and a diverse collection of ten vehicles from the estate of the late director and producer Richard Donner.
Last year was a banner year for enthusiast car sales, with more than $2 billion in sales at in-person and online auctions alone. “Scottsdale Auction Week is where we find out if this momentum will continue,” says McKeel Hagerty, CEO of the classic car conglomerate. Hagerty. “We expect $211 million in sales there by Sunday night.”
Celebrity provenance can add significant value to a vintage vehicle. “It’s the people who give value and meaning to cars,” says Hagerty. “The influence of celebrities on vehicle values correlates with the stamina of the celebrity or movie in question.” Some cars are also getting their own turn in the spotlight, having found their way to the screens themselves.
And then there are the cars that tick both boxes, like the following.
by Dustin Hoffman rain man Buick Convertible
After the rain man filming completed, in the late ’80s Hoffman decided he wanted to buy one of the two 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertibles used in the filming of the film. Hoffman has owned the car ever since. Director Barry Levinson bought the other.
The Roadmaster is practically a co-star in the movie. “The car had a very strong visual presence in the film and was featured throughout,” Levinson said in a statement to The Bonham Auction House, which deals with the sale of the car on Thursday, January 27. “He became a character. Dustin, Tom Cruise and the Buick ’49. Essentially, the car had a “third billing”. Hoffman’s character, Raymond, describes the car in the film, in his character’s quick and idiosyncratic delivery: “It’s a 1949 Buick Roadmaster straight eight, fireball eight. Only 8095 production models. His repeated insistence that he is a “great driver” of the Buick has become a classic quote.
Roadmasters of this era sold for just over $3,000 when new (the equivalent of about $33,000 in today’s money). The best in the world, those renowned in #1 or Condition Contest by Hagerty– are worth $135,000. Bonham’s pegged the top of its pre-sale estimate at $250,000, although feverish bidding could drive the price much higher.
“Movie cars create a big impression on a lot of people. At auction, they typically sell for five times more than an identical vehicle with no screen time,” says John Wiley, head of valuation analysis for Hagerty: “With this Buick starring two superstar actors in a highly acclaimed movie, and then having belonged to one of them, it could sell for well over its high estimate.”
The unique Cizeta-Moroder prototype by Giorgio Moroder
At the height of his fame in the 1980s, Italian composer Giorgio Moroder (who produced hits by Donna Summer, Blondie and Barbra Streisand and wrote scores for American Gigolo, Flashdance and Superior gunlisten)) helped fund the development of a supercar that bears his name.
To say this vehicle was outrageous would be an understatement. Because it packed a 16-cylinder engine (actually two fused Lamborghinis V8s) horizontally into the space behind the driver, it was one of the widest supercars ever built. It not only accommodated two pop-up headlights, a trademark of the 80s, but four. The 6.0-litre engine delivered a claimed 540 bhp, beating rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini. And her side-striped body looked like ’80s louvered sunglasses.
The car was to be called Moroder-Cizeta. As with many boutique startups, things went wrong almost immediately. Disagreements over how, where and what materials to make the car soured the bond between Moroder and his partners, mostly Lamborghini designers with little business experience. Costs soared and orders were limited. Moroder backed out of the case. So the handful of cars that were eventually produced and sold (for prices in the mid/high six figures) were simply called Cizetas.
Only the prototype car bore the Cizeta-Moroder name.
This is the car that is RM Sotheby’s up for sale on January 27, with a pre-sale estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000. In addition to the car, the winning bidder will also receive an NFT for an exclusive four-track Moroder EP, a 3D rendering of the digital artist’s car.”Soulajit», and other memories.
“The Cizeta-Moroder, in our view, is an interesting case,” says Wiley. “Its value is not tied to fame or significant notoriety in pre-production or post-production. It’s known for exactly what it is: a dream car built right in the middle of the ‘poster car’ era. And the analog supercars of that era were hot.
Ten cars from Richard Donner’s collection
Richard Donner died last year at the age of 91. In addition to being a prolific director (The Goonies, Superman, the lethal weapon franchise) and producer over a six-decade career, he was also an accomplished vehicle collector. Ten of his cars are offered for sale by his estate. Although they are quality and easy to drive vehicles, none are estimated by Gooding & Co., which is handling the January 26-28 sale, for more than $180,000. Many should hammer in the low five-digit range.
The most valuable of the group is a 1965 Porsche 356 SC Convertible, from the highly desirable final year of production of Porsche’s first passenger vehicle. A sextet of other convertibles, all American, are also part of Donner’s horde. These include a yellow gold button 1931 Ford Model Aa burgundy à la Raymond Chandler 1939 Ford Deluxe Phaetonone filled with wood 1948 Chrysler town and countrya sinister black 1957 Cadillac El Dorado (Donner’s favourite), an ivory and turquoise 1958 Lincoln Continental and a heavily chrome and cherry red 1962 Imperial Crown.
Perhaps the most fun is a two-tone 1962 VW Microbus, a coveted 23-window model with a retractable canvas roof. Coincidentally, the Donner sale includes another 1949 Buick Roadmastersame year and same model as the Hoffman rain man car but bodied like a station wagon.
“The Donner collection is a particularly sought-after set of cars. Although they are owned by a successful filmmaker, neither has screen time, nor has Richard Donner publicly declared himself to be a car enthusiast,” says Wiley. “We expect these cars to succeed on their own merits more than on their ownership history.”