My Car Quest

September 25, 2018

A Fringe Factor: Evaluating The Celebrity Car’s Appeal

I like it, most of the time…

by Wallace Wyss –

When the publisher and editor of My Car Quest began talking about other cars he was thinking of buying, I didn’t see much reference to the appeal of the celebrity car.

This, by my definition, is a car where some celebrity either:

1.) Had it built especially for them

2.) Owned it and was photographed with it

3.) Drove it on some special occasion but maybe didn’t actually own it

A good example of the latter is the recent wedding of Prince Harry in the UK. He and his American wife drove off in a light blue Jaguar E-Type, turns out electric powered, probably a back handed way of saying Buy British.

jaguar-e-type-concept-zero-uk-kensington-palace

The Duke and Dutchess of Sussex in an Electric Powered Jaguar E-Type

Years before his brother and his new wife drove off from their wedding in an Aston Martin open car, one actually owned by Prince Charles.

Either of those cars is now more valuable because you can name drop like crazy. “Yes, you might well have seen this before, do you watch Royal weddings?”

I recently read a item on the internet from a fellow who mentioned that the Ferrari GT/4 in his garage was Mario Andretti’s. Now there is a name to drop, a giant in American racing who also raced Internationally.

Clark Gable's Mercedes

Clark Gable’s Mercedes – his daily driver when he died, now owned by Bruce Meyer

Now movie stars and celebs, there’s a whole host of them who owned interesting cars. One I covet, even though it’s now plastered with zillions of crystals, is the Phantom V Rolls Sedanca that’s part of the Liberace display. I saw him drive by on the Sunset Strip in it when it was just sand and sable and not so glittery. Its James Young coachwork was a sight to see, being one of only five Sedancas built on that chassis.

Then of course there’s Frank Sinatra’s Ghia, the Shah of Iran’s Bugatti 57C with disappearing windscreen, and on and on. With singers I can see having a CD in the car, quite by accident you understand, so you can turn up the volume for anybody who recognizes the singer’s car (ditto for Elvis’ many cars from his Stutz’s to his Caddies).

Frank Sinatra's Ghia

Frank Sinatra’s 1961 Ghia L6.4 Hardtop

Famous actors, I dunno, hard to play their movies while driving. But I think it’s’ a tribute to them if you own and restore their personally owned car.

There is a concours coming up in Chino, California called the Steve McQueen concours and a feature of the concours is dozens of cars that are like the ones he owned or were in his movies.

Porsche 911S

The Steve McQueen 1970 Porsche 911S sold by RM in August 2011 for $1,250,000 USD

I think if you liked McQueen’s movies it is kind of a studly thing to do to drive a car like he drove in the film you like most.

Now it so happens that I am an architect fan and I appreciate that Frank Lloyd Wright had a custom Lincoln Continental, prewar, with circular windows in the rear three quarter window area. That would be the perfect car to own if you owned the most famous home he designed “Falling Water.”

Liv Tyler Jaguar

Does celebrity ownership, like Liv Tyler, increase the value of a classic Jaguar?

Now one I wouldn’t want to own is James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder. Driver error is the reason given most often for his fatal crash, but you never know if the car just does weird things. Even if they could find it, it supposedly has been lost for decades.

I also like one-off cars created by designers as showpieces, promotional tools so to speak like the Bugatti created by Virgil Exner Jr. and Sr. It got them publicity and was sold off. It’s a real Bugatti underneath, one of the last prewar chassis sold.

Now a downside to the “famous owner” theory is it may work both ways, with those cars owned by nefarious villains in history, such as the Mercedes 540K, the “blue goose” owned by Reichsmarshall Goering. I saw it once in the fog at Pebble and you could tell the owner was reticent about showing it because, after all, it recalled an image of one of the most infamous men in history. Still it’s an interesting car, especially how it was “liberated” by US troops on their way to “Eagle’s Nest” in search of Hitler.

Yet the Mercedes 540K owned by Jack Warner, movie producer, before the war is untainted by being associated with those jackbooted thugs in the Third Reich.

And so it goes. I don’t know if our editor is swayed a whit by a car’s owner history. He might be strictly a dollars–and-sense man. But we’ll see if he responds….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, a fine artist, is pouring through his pictures to decide which of his favorites to depict in oil on canvas. A list of his art is available by writing Photojournalistpro2@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Steve McQueen's Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera

Steve McQueen’s Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera

Brian Johnson of the rock band AC/DC in his Lola race car

Brian Johnson of the rock band AC/DC in his Lola race car

Summary
A Fringe Factor: Evaluating The Celebrity Car’s Appeal
Article Name
A Fringe Factor: Evaluating The Celebrity Car’s Appeal
Description
Movie stars and other celebrities; there’s a whole host of them who owned interesting cars - does that make the car more valuable?
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Comments

  1. Philip Sarris says:

    Here’s the story behind Prince Charles’ Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante, mentioned in Walter’s article. It seems the Prince of Wales does not have to purchase his own Astons, people gift them to him. Brilliant!

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/motoring/aston-martin-vantage-v8-prince-charles-favourite-goes-auction/

  2. Glenn Krasner says:

    The biggest “celebrity windfall in value” ever, had to be last fall’s auction of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona wristwatch. A watch normally worth about $25,000 went for $17.8 million!!!!! It set a record price ever for a wristwatch, based soley on its celebrity provenance

  3. wallace wyss says:

    I think it is all buying “bragging rights” that link you to a famous person or event. Think of the guy that bought Shelby’s first ever Cobra. If some neophyte asks “Who owned it before you?” and you can say “Oh, it was Carroll’s–in fact the first one ever made….”

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