Unbeknownst to many, Porsche was founded by a member of the Nazi Party, Ferdinand Porsche, called the "Great German Engineer" by Nazi officials. Born in Austria, Porsche was a key contributor to the German war effort during World War II.
One of Porsche’s early designs, the Porsche 64, also known as the Type 64, managed to survive the war. Originally, only three were built. One was destroyed during the war and the other two were used by the Porsche family. Eventually, one was put into storage. When American troops discovered the car in May 1945, they cut off the roof and used it for joyriding until it was scrapped at the end of the war. Years later, it was rebuilt and is now on display in the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
The other remaining model, owned by Ferry Porsche, was restored by Battista Farina in 1947. Two years later, it was sold to Austrian motorcycle racer Otto Mathé, who won the Alpine Rally with the car in 1950. The last time Mathé, who died in 1995, drove the car in a race was at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in Monterey, California, in 1982. After Mathé’s death, the car was sold to collector Dr. Thomas Gruber of Vienna, Austria.
This past weekend, during Monterey Car Week, Mathé’s 1939 Porsche Type 64 was up for auction. But things did not go well. After RM Sotheby auctioneers showed a promotional video for the 1939 Type 64, which was expected to easily fetch $20 million, the emcee announced that bidding would open at $30 million. Soon, bidding was up to $70 million and the crowd was cheering. Then, the auctioneer announced that he had meant to say $13 million and then $17 million, not $30 million and $70 million.
Needless to say, the crowd was not happy. The audience began booing and people started walking out. “What a joke,” said Johnny Shaughnessy, a collector from Southern California. “They just lost so much credibility. My father could have bought that car for $5 million years ago. It has been passed around for years, and no one wants it.”
Other comments included, “What a scam” and “They just slit their own throat.” John Bothwell, the director of Pur Sang Bugattis, called it “a massive f__k-up.” A spokesperson for RM Sotheby’s told Bloomberg News that “despite interest from discerning collectors, we were unable to reach common ground between seller and buyer on the night. As bidding opened on the Type 64, increments were mistakenly overheard and displayed on the screen, causing unfortunate confusion in the room.”
After auctioneers decided that the car had only reached a high bid of $17 million, they decided that the minimum bid had not been reached, therefore the Nazi relic is listed as “Still for Sale” on the RM Sotheby’s online auction catalogue. Feel free to bid on it.