A one-of-a-kind collection of more than 120 vintage European sports cars from a single owner–including first-rate recreations of some of the world’s most exclusive models–is expected to fetch as much as $20 million at auction in September amid a booming market for high-end cars.
The collection was built over 15 years by Gene Ponder, a Texan who founded two kitchen cabinet companies, and who told Forbes that vintage European sports cars were his “true love.”
The cars going up for sale include a rare deep-red 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC with the original engine, a 1935 MG PB Airline Coupe–one of only 14 models from the time period ever known to have been built–and a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, which Ponder often entered in car shows and other events.
Ponder is selling high-end replicas of ultra-rare models that aren’t available for purchase and that he said often sit idle in museums, like his favorite car, a recreation of a 1936 Bugatti Atlantic (only three models from that time period are believed to exist, and designer Ralph Lauren owns one of them).
Ponder told Forbes his replica Bugatti Atlantic is one of two copies built with authentic parts in a Swiss factory, and said he has been told comedian Jay Leno owns the other model.
The auction of Ponder’s collection–which also includes vintage car memorabilia and a selection of motorcycles–will take place September 22 through September 24 at Ponder’s special-built facility in Marshall, Texas.
RM Sotheby’s specialist Thatcher Keast told Forbes the classic car market is “coming up significantly,” which he partially credits to the return of in-person auctions after a pause during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. “I don’t know if it was just the excitement of people getting out of their house to see cars again in person and buy them, but ever since then, every auction we’ve had has been increasing in value and sell through rate,” Keast told Forbes. Last week, RM Sotheby’s announced that an original 1955 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé–one of only two in existence–sold at a secret in-person auction in Germany for $142 million, setting a record for the most expensive car ever sold.
It’s the second time Ponder has auctioned off his entire collection. In 2007 after a major heart attack, Ponder sold off a collection of 60 cars, also with RM Sotheby’s, and brought in around $15 million, the auction house said. Ponder told Forbes there’s “not really a lot of difference” between the cars in his first and second collection aside from the sheer size of the two. He told Forbes he decided to sell his second collection after the death of his wife several months ago and son four years ago. “They’re just not that important to me anymore,” he said of the cars, but added he hopes buyers appreciate his “love and appreciation of the beauty of the cars.”
“Some people own a Rembrandt hanging on the wall, or a Chagall. To me, these cars are works of art,” Ponder told Forbes.