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The Ron Pratte Collection
Buckle Up for Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale, 2015
Written by David M. BrownPublished 12/2014
You’ll need to collect yourself after you see this collection: Howard Hughes, Carroll Shelby, Harley Earl, Boyd Coddington – even 1958 Plymouth Fury movie-star ‘Christine’ will be present.
Car aficionado and Valley businessman Ron Pratte is selling all 141 of his extraordinary collector cars at the 44th Annual Scottsdale Auction, Jan 10−18, 2015, at WestWorld, and that means many fortunate automotive lovers will be driving away very, very happy, indeed.
Pratte built much of his collection at past Barrett-Jackson auctions, including one of 12 General Motors Futurliners; a Pontiac Bonneville Special Concept Car, one of only two; Carroll Shelby’s own 1966 Shelby Cobra Super Snake; Shelby’s first race car, a 1949 MG TC Roadster; and a Howard Hughes car that, eccentrically, brilliantly, jumpstarts airplanes.
Pratt’s extensive collection of automobilia and pedal cars will also be on the docket as well as cars such as a Quicksilver-liveried 550-horsepower 2005 Ford GT40; a one-of-three ‘Curious Yellow’ 1971 matching-numbers Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda with under 16,000 original miles; the 2007 Blastolene B-702 Roadster, a 19.5-foot-long aluminum-bodied two-seater with a 702-cid V-12, inspired by the great French cars of the 1930s; a 1955 Ford Thunderbird Convertible, VIN Number 0005; and the 2006 Hot Rod of the Year, a 1932 Ford Roadster.
“This is arguably the most significant collection ever offered in Barrett-Jackson history, says Craig Jackson, Chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car AuctionsTM. “From one-of-a-kind customs to historically significant vehicles, this collection has a wide variety of excellence that should appeal to all enthusiasts.”
Extended this year to accommodate Pratte’s cars, the annual Scottsdale auction will include television coverage on Velocity and Discovery and may become the highest sales-volume auction in the company’s history, if the robust car market proves its continuing vitality. Scottsdale-based Barrett-Jackson also schedules annual auction events in Palm Beach, Florida; Reno/Tahoe, Nevada; and Las Vegas, Nevada.
The collection is a museum of Americana. Here’s a peek inside the doors:
Futurliner –– Those old enough will remember these touring self-contained display and transport vehicles from the ‘40s and ‘50s. GM design staff, under the great Harley Earl, built them as centerpieces for the “Parade of Progress” touring exhibit as part of the GM “Motoramas” from 1940 through 1956.
Ron Pratte purchased this one and meticulously restored it in 2006, and it is now one of three survivors restored to their original configuration and certainly the finest, with extraordinary attention to details, including the perfectly matched period tires.
A veteran of the U.S. Army’s 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam during 1968, Pratte has donated all proceeds from the Futurliner sale to the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports and advocates for active-duty military personnel, National Guardsmen, Reservists, military families and veterans.
“Military veterans, especially wounded warriors, deserve our appreciation and our support,” Pratte says. “Their continued sacrifices give Americans the freedom to build happy productive lives. With the help of the great team at Barrett‐Jackson, I look forward to raising funds that will make AFF’s mission a success.”
1953 Buick Roadmaster –– Hughes had this remarkable car, the last he drove, customized for his idiosyncrasies, in particular, having it hermetically sealed and fitted with a trunk-mounted 24-volt set of four batteries to power the air-filtering and air-conditioning systems as well as jump start his airplanes, when he chose to fly, often at the last minute.
The car was discovered by Brian Jackson, Craig Jackson’s brother, in Hollywood, where, of course, Hughes had headed RKO Studios. Today, it has 5,339 actual miles since new. All 100 percent original, the Pastel Blue-bodied and Seafoam Green-topped car has a blue wool, broadcloth and nylon interior.
Because of Hughes’ predilection for absolutely clean air environments, the trunk’s air-conditioning unit flows air through dust and bacteria filters. The 24-volt electric panel is on the firewall, separate from the standard 12-volt system. Because of a lack of trunk space, Hughes Aircraft designed and installed the Continental kit, which totes the spare.
1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Motorama Concept Car –– This “car of the future” has been a part of the Pratte collection since 2006, and he displayed it alongside the Futurliner, also designed by the great Harley Earl as a GM Motorama concept.
Earl, it’s said, watched those great land speed records being set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and named the concept the Bonneville Special. Pontiac got the car for manufacture, perhaps anticipating the great division performers to follow: those great fuel-injected Bonne’s a few years later, the racetrack-star Catalinas of the early ‘60s and, of course, the GTOs that started up in 1964.
Two of these gorgeous Bonneville concepts were built, a bronze car that debuted at the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf in New York City and this emerald one, which appeared first in the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles and toured major dealerships nationwide, to wide-eyed appreciation, then. And now.
1949 MG TC Roadster –– How would you like to own Carroll Shelby’s first race car, the one that was his starting line? The legendary chicken-farmer turned racing and entrepreneurial legend, recalled: “My good friend in Dallas, Ed Wilkins, owned the car and let me drive it in the race. Because it was early in my career, I still had a lot to learn but knew how to go fast. This MG changed my life, because from that point forward, I knew that I wanted to be involved with racing and sport cars.”
That was In May 1952 in Norman, Oklahoma, when he won the first and second race and went on to win at Le Mans as a driver, in 1959 and later to best Enzo Ferrari in 1964 as a team owner with the great Shelby Daytona, driven by Dan Gurney and the Valley’s Bob Bondurant. Later, of course, he developed the great Shelby-badged cars for Ford and much more.
Formerly a part of the famous Syd Silverman Collection before Pratte acquired it in 2008, this MG won the Collier Cup in 2005 at the all-MG vintage race in Watkins Glen, New York. The original 1250cc four-cylinder engine, built up to 100-plus horse, is race ready –– and ready to go home.
1969 Shelby GT500 Convertible –– Carroll Shelby owned this magnificent collector car since new. Jim Cowles did a five-year concours rotisserie restoration, completed in September 2007. Shelby owned only one other car since new: the first Shelby AC Cobra, CSX2000.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Custom ‘Chezoom’ –– Classic meets Coddington, the great Customizer: This icon features upgrades and modifications made in 2004, including a new interior, sound system and XM satellite system, custom Boyd wheels and matching steering wheel, new exhaust and tailpipe design and other visual and engine compartment mods.
1966 Cobra 427 Super Snake –– Shelby said a Nevada state trooper somehow stopped him in this CSX 3015 doing 190 mph. It is one of the 23 427 Competition Roadsters built and the only remaining one of two Super Snakes. Shelby once said it will get you from start to 60 mph is just a “tick over three seconds.” Even by today’s exalted standards, that’s very fast, enough to make any trooper’s eyes roll. Somewhere, Carroll’s driving, and he’s driving this car.
You get it: Ron Pratte. Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2015. Be there.
Barrett-Jackson, www.barrett-jackson.com, 480.421.6694. Facebook or Twitter, @Barrett_Jackson.
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