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Automobiles | RM Sotheby's

An Exquisite Selection of Exceptional European Grand Touring Cars, All Bound for Milan

By Forest Casey
Built to accomplish long journeys with ease, RM Sotheby’s Milan sale offers examples that are tailor-made for adventure.

A ll the promise and potential of a grand touring car are contained within its descriptor. Evocative dreams of a European road trip are transformed into realistic possibilities when your automobile is built to roam. With graceful hoods covering enlarged powerplants, grand touring cars were designed to provide the unstressed performance and unparalleled comfort that coincides with longer wheelbases. Although some sports cars contain spartan luggage compartments, grand touring cars are typically commodious enough to offer enough space to truly travel. The grand tourers on our list offer enough trunk space to not merely accommodate baggage brought from home, but sufficient storage to shop for souvenirs without stress once you reach your destination. And they invariably look fabulous parked in the porte cocherie of an international hotel, poised and purposeful, ready to shuttle their occupants anywhere they desire.

RM Sotheby’s appreciates both the practical nature and sense of adventure that these fine grand touring models deliver. In terms of destination auctions, there are few settings in the world that could compete with the Palazzo Serbelloni, in Milan, Italy, in the courtyard of a Neoclassical palace constructed in 1770. A glamorous setting, befitting these grand tourers:

1951 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport Villa d'Este Coupé by Touring

Estimate: €575,000 - €675,000 EUR


We cannot feature a list of grand touring cars without mentioning Carrozzeria Touring. Started in Milan in 1926, and renowned for their superleggera (or, “super-light”) construction methods, Touring has offered truly extraordinary car bodies on top-tier chassis. With low production volumes and hand-crafted aluminum body shells, the output of Touring’s Milanese workshop is more akin to sculpture rather than mere bodywork. This post-war Alfa Romeo 6C is no exception, as it is one of only 36 examples made with this striking Villa d'Este coachwork, and one of only 31 built in the grand touring-friendly Coupé style. Having taken home the Gran Premio Referendum (or “People’s Choice Award”) for the aerodynamic, closed-bodied design in 1949, Touring changed the formal name of this Super Sport design to reflect their win at Italy’s Villa d’Este. An early concours classic from its very inception, this Milanese-built example will represent hometown pride in the Palazzo Serbelloni.

1960 Aston Martin DB4 Series II

Estimate: €450,000 - €550,000 EUR


With perhaps the most prime on-screen product placement ever seen for a production automobile as the faithful companion to James Bond, the Aston Martin brand has been thoroughly defined as a British company. And yet, the brand’s sporting credentials were established earlier, in Italy, by examples like this 1960 Aston Martin DB4 Series II. As is described in more detail in this example’s lot listing, Aston Martin’s Chief Engineer Howard Beech developed this tubular-style chassis design using Touring’s signature lightweight methods at their facility in Milan. Touring designer Federico Formenti contributed the overall styling, executed in alloy, forever endowing this thoroughly British brand with a decidedly Italian flair. Befitting its continental status, this example has been carefully kept in single family ownership in Switzerland for the past two decades.

1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L Berlinetta Lusso by Scaglietti

Estimate: €1,400,000 - €1,800,000 EUR


We have celebrated the Pininfarina-designed, Scaglietti-built shape of this 1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L Berlinetta Lusso in this space before, and yet collecting a selection of grand touring cars without mentioning this example would be almost sacrilegious. With its twelve-cylinder, 3.0-litre Columbo engine providing enough motive force to cross a continent, the Lusso offered a potent Ferrari powerplant wrapped in elegant Pininfarina styling with Scaglietti coachwork. Especially when wearing the classic color combination of Grigio Argento exterior over a Nero Franzi (NR 1) interior, as seen on this example, the 250 GT/L would add an iconic Berlinetta to any Ferrari collection, even one more focused on motorsports. The enduring success enjoyed by Ferrari was built on classic grand touring road cars like this, as much as mid-engine sports, super, and hypercars.

1963 Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 Series III by Pininfarina

Estimate: €400,000 - €450,000 EUR


Further evidence of Ferrari’s prowess in making mid-century grand touring machines can be found in examples like this 1963 Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 Series III by Pininfarina. Launched three years prior to rival Lamborghini’s first grand touring effort, by 1963, the third iteration of the Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 enjoyed the benefits from years of development, including a rear suspension redesign and handsome Borrani wheels. This example has been treated especially well, with a full refurbishment in 2014 in Italy that went down to bare metal. Marque experts including Toni Auto of Maranello and Elettrauto Franco contributed to the full mechanical and electrical refurbishment on this example; the luxurious Pelle Beige Connolly leather interior pairs perfectly with its Grigio Fumo exterior, this original color combination on this supremely tasteful grand tourer.

1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta by Scaglietti

Estimate: €550,000 - €650,000 EUR


Wearing a standout color combination of yellow-over-black, for some Ferrari fans, examples like this 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta by Scaglietti represent a pinnacle in the evolution of the grand tourer. With designer Leonardo Fioravanti’s extravagant, flowing lines growing somehow more subtle with age, the Daytona is perhaps one artifact of 1970s styling that all automobile afficionados can agree upon. One detail that most Ferrari fans consider extraneous are the side reflector lights on U.S.-spec models of the period, but on this U.S.-spec, European-owned example, they have thankfully been removed. One feature made standard on North American Daytona examples that may be of interest to prospective road trippers is the air conditioning, which has been thoughtfully retained. Fresh off a full restoration in Modena from Ferrari specialists Bacchelli & Villa, this Berlinetta is ready to travel.


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