About as many collectors consider themselves “professional” as the number of those who consider their collections “encyclopedic.” But for an automotive aficionado to show the depth and breadth of the classic car world in one collection, they would have to include everything from Route 66-era petrol station signs to signed photographs and beyond. Radiator mascots would have to represent all makes and models; dealership ads would need to display a diverse array of brands. For a collection to truly be encyclopedic, almost every manufacturer would be included, no matter how obscure.
Amassing a truly encyclopedic trove of automotive treasures like this today would be nearly impossible—as well-worn as the saying goes, one simply “had to be there” to purchase some of the rarest artifacts of car culture. (And, it must be said, even if one “was there” with cash on hand, that was sometimes still insufficient.)
As a professional classic car appraiser, Dennis Mitosinka had the perfect purview to identify future automotive collectibles. For over five decades, Mitosinka explored every avenue of automotive culture: Writing to early Indy 500 winners and swapping vintage driver’s yearbooks for their signatures; appraising the remains of a once-storied coachbuilder and trading artifacts for his payment; acquiring the entirety of automotive photographer Floyd Clymer’s archive, including some never-before-seen images documenting the first Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico.
Calling Mitosinka’s collection “comprehensive” truly does not cover it. His headquarters for many years was itself historic—the airy Santa Ana building was first built to house a Hupmobile dealership—and holds a collection of interesting coachbuilt cars as well as Mitosinka’s massive automobilia collection. Thirty of Mitosinka’s cars will be auctioned alongside the automobilia, and they are equally fascinating. From his seat at the sidelines of the Southern California collector car scene, Mitosinka was able to acquire custom-bodied variants of valuable automobiles—a 1929 Stutz Sport Custom with a one-of-a-kind hot rod body paired with a classic 1951 Mercury ‘Lead Sled’ Custom.
The interesting examples in Mitosinka’s collection were not merely made by small customizers, but by major manufacturers, too; a Frua-bodied 1976 Chevrolet Camaro “Europo Hurst” showcases a rarely-seen design from an alternate reality where the iconic muscle car was made in Italy instead of America. Mitosinka’s 1963 Ghia 1500 GT Coupe features a design far more delicate than the firm’s signature Karmann Ghia sports coupe—and with reportedly only 864 examples produced, several orders of magnitude rarer.
European prestige marques are represented as well, with a 1950 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn Saloon and a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Newmarket Convertible Sedan serving two different styles of British luxury. The latter car, representing a fine European brand paired with a distinctly American flair (coachwork was completed by Brewster of New York), reverses the typical direction of the international auto manufacturing, and succinctly closes the chapter on uncommon car construction.
So, it goes with the rest of Mitosinka’s collection: For already uncommon cars, he chose the coachbuilt variant. Mitosinka’s factory-built selections were special in other ways: A 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2 ‘Supercharged’ and a 1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Phaeton bookend two totally different eras of American performance.
The disappearing top on Mitosinka’s streamlined 1950 Nash Rambler Custom Landau Convertible and CCCA full-classic 1931 Cord L-29 Brougham harken back to two different bygone eras, both equally worthy of nostalgia. Every car curated by Mitosinka is interesting and offbeat, each one worthy of collecting.
The only problem with encyclopedic collections is that they are, by definition, impossible to summarize. For how could one sum up a sale that offers both a carbon-fiber rear deck lid from a Ferrari F40 alongside an original publicity still signed by famous racing driver Barney Oldfield? With 400+ lots uploading to our online auction platform, offered entirely without reserve, RM Sotheby’s invites you to browse the diverse offerings of the Dennis Mitosinka collection, encompassing five decades of discoveries from over a century of automotive history.