Lot 149

1939 Atalanta 4.3-Litre Drophead Coupe by Abbott

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$900,000 - $1,200,000 USD  | Offered Without Reserve

United States | Phoenix, Arizona

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Chassis No.
L/1020
Documents
US Title
To be offered on Thursday, 26 January 2023
  • Offered from the James Raisbeck Estate
  • An extraordinarily rare V-12-powered CCCA Full Classic
  • One of just four known surviving V-12 Atalantas
  • Finished in splendid black and scarlet livery
  • Veteran of the Colorado Grand

Atalanta Motors of Staines, Middlesex, England was established in 1937 by Albert Gough, formerly of Frazer Nash and later of HRG, and A.C. “Bert” Bertelli, the foremost British automotive engineer of the time, with initial financing from Neil Watson and, later, from pioneering female racing driver, Midge Wilby. Until World War II cut short the firm’s life only three years later, it hand-built a fascinating sports car that boasted a tubular steel chassis, the first fully independent coil-spring suspension on a British automobile, extensive use of lightweight magnesium, including the brake drums, and one of several available engines. At the top of the line was the ‘”4.3-litre V-12,” actually the small V-12 of the American Lincoln-Zephyr!

The July 1939 issue of The Motor tested a 12-cylinder Atalanta and found it to be “a vehicle of special interest to performance enthusiasts by reason of its high power-to-weight ratio and its independent suspension to all four wheels...the car has an outstanding road performance and the suspension gives really good road holding allied to exceptional riding comfort.” In other words, it was a rave review.

Only about 20 examples of the Atalanta were produced between 1937 and 1939, six of which were equipped with the V-12 engine. Four V-12 models are believed to remain in existence.

Bodied by Abbott as a sleek drophead coupe, the car offered here was formerly owned for many years by well-known collector and enthusiast Craig Davis of California, later passing to the prolific collector of special coachbuilt European automobiles, Charles Morse of Washington State. James Raisbeck subsequently purchased the Atalanta from Mr. Morse in 1998, having seen the car locally and become fascinated by the beauty of its coachwork and the 12-cylinder engine. In an article penned by Mr. Raisbeck for the Winter 2011 edition of the Classic Car Club of America Pacific Northwest Region magazine, The Bumper Guardian, the pleased owner noted that the car had already been restored to the same splendid black and scarlet livery in which it remains today. It was shown at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and completed the Colorado Grand in 2004.

With his typical engineer’s attention to an automobile’s mechanical functions, Mr. Raisbeck invested significant time in having the car properly sorted mechanically by his trusted mechanic, Jim Preston, to ensure that it ran and drove strongly. The Bumper Guardian article notes that the eccentric housings for the independent rear suspension were recast from scratch, and a completely new cooling system fitted for the engine, which is features finned aluminum heads and aspirates via three Stromberg 94 carburetors, ensuring what Mr. Raisbeck described as “go-fast capability.”

The world of CCCA Full Classic automobiles is filled with marvelous Cadillacs, Packards, Rolls-Royces, and the like. Offered here is the opportunity to acquire something its new owner is highly unlikely to ever see coming—a combination of American 12-cylinder power and fascinating European technical expertise, suitable for rally road or concours field. All proceeds from this sale will go to the James and Sherry Raisbeck Foundation.