If you're crazy about classic roadsters with racing heritage, Nice Price or Crack Pipe has found one that you'll go totally wacky over.
Yesterday, 68% of you drew the conclusion that the questionably-aged Figaro was Nice Price worthy. Today let's look at an ad that's a little less sketchy.
Stan Arnolt was a Chicago-based industrialist who made a lot of scratch selling lubricants and parts to the military during WWII. He gained the sobriquet "Wacky" after a 1938 voyage across roiling lake Michigan, in an attempt to prove the durability of his newly designed Sea-Mite inboard boat motor, and the name stuck with him from then on.
In addition to his industrial business, Arnolt designed and raced sports cars. This passion led him to be one of the first importers of the MG brand to America, and it was on a trip to Europe that he spotted a pretty, MGTD-based coupe on the Bertone stand at the 1952 Turin Auto Salon. Wacky, on the spot, ordered 100 of the cars for sale in the U.S., which nearly caused Nuccio Bertone to have a heart attack when he realized he'd have to figure out how to build that many. The relationship between Arnolt and Bertone carried through the next 7 years and three additional models.
One of those models is the object of today's consideration- a 1956 Arnolt Bristol roadster. This car represents what people used to consider as a hybrid- British chassis and running gear, Italian styling and construction, and American money and consignment. Based on the Bristol 404 chassis, and powered by their BMW-based 1971cc straight six, the cars received an aerodynamic body designed by Franco Scaglione, who would go on to design the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. series of cars. The Arnolt Bristol was a true roadster with side curtains and a rudimentary top being among the optional fittings, along with more sporting equipment like 11" Alfins and a front anti-sway bar. Wacky backed up the car's sporting pretensions by racing it at Sebring in 1955, nailing the top-3 positions in the 2-litre class.
Being more expensive than the Corvette blunted sales, and the Arnolt Bristol ended production in 1959 after only 147 cars were constructed. A fire in Wacky's Chicago warehouse (shades of Jaguar!) destroyed 12 of them, and it's estimated that as few as 85 exist today. Arnolt himself passed away in 1962, putting an end to the wackiness.
This car is a deluxe coupe, which received the top and side curtains as standard. The 130bhp six is backed up by a 4-speed moss box and will provide 100mph-plus cruising all day. The car has been restored, and judging by the pictures presents itself well, although at less than concours level. The things that need to be rectified are minor however, so you could be up and ready for Monterey this year!
So, does $165,000 for a rare hybrid from the fifties seem too wacky for you? Or is that what it costs to bring three great nations together in your driveway?
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