Gooding & Company, the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, will feature the William M. Wonder Collection at its signature event August 19-20.
Wonder, who died in January at age 83, was a well-respected American privateer racer who built a collection of significant competition cars, many of which scheduled to cross the block during the premier two-day late-summer auction.
Wonder dedicated over 50 years to his craft, competing in most of the legendary American FIA, SCCA, Trans Am, and Can-Am events at tracks including Sebring, Daytona, and Bridgehampton. During his long career, he became acquainted with many of motor sport’s greatest names, including A.J. Foyt, Juan Manuel Fangio, Carroll Shelby, and Ken Miles.
During this time, Wonder drove a wildly diverse mix of race cars—everything from MG Specials to a Ford GT40. A commercial pilot who had a 38-year-long career, he was self-admittedly “addicted to racing” with a keen eye for and deep interest in some of the world’s most innovative and significant competition cars.
“Bill Wonder was well known in racing circles as the ultimate privateer and gentleman racer, successfully competing with the greatest drivers of his era and leaving a broad and accomplished on-track resume during his 50-plus years behind the wheel,” said Gooding & Company President and Founder, David Gooding. “His incredible taste and persistent curiosity led him to own a wide range of remarkable automobiles, from the ultra-desirable Ferrari 333 SP, to a German icon in the 300 SL Gullwing, and it is our great honor to offer many of them at this year’s Pebble Beach Auctions.”
Among the most desirable:
1999 Ferrari 333 SP (Estimate: $4,500,000 – $5,500,0000)
As the first competition prototype to follow the race-winning 312 P, the 333 SP signified Ferrari’s return to endurance racing and was its final sports racing prototype. This car, chassis 025, was delivered new to Fredy Lienhard, the Swiss gentleman racer, and was prepared and run by Kevin Doran, who entered the car under the Doran-Lista Racing banner. Raced during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, primarily in the US, it was driven to several victories and podium finishes by some of the era’s greatest drivers, including Didier Theys, Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyk, Ross Bentley, and of course, team owner Lienhard.
Completely restored by Doran, the 333 SP has been a fixture in the William M. Wonder Collection since it was acquired in 2004. During its time there, it has not been displayed publicly, and has seen limited use, primarily consisting of private track days.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (Estimate: $2,000,000 – $2,500,000)
The epitome of Mercedes-Benz design and engineering excellence, the Gullwing variant was the ultimately refined version of the 300 SL race car. This unique 1955 Gullwing was built to order for young American sports car enthusiast Richard Wolfe of Columbus, Ohio. The special-order 300 SL came with a number of noteworthy features, including Rudge knock-off wheels, a high-performance NSL engine, sport suspension, and a Becker Mexico radio. It was in effect a steel-bodied Gullwing with the special mechanical features typical of an alloy-bodied variant.
1986 Ford Mustang Probe GTP (Estimate: $350,000 – $450,000)
This rare 1986 Ford Mustang Probe GTP is one of just six cars built as part of a collaboration between Ford and German racing team Zakspeed, founded by Erich Zakowski in 1968. This example, chassis GTP 86 – 05, was the fifth car built, and was driven by Klaus Ludwig, Doc Bundy, Lyn St. James, Tom Gloy, and Pete Halsmer during its time on the track, and was winner of the Monterey Triple Crown Camel GP event at Laguna Seca in 1986. Powered by a potent 2.1-liter four-cylinder engine, this 650 hp example wears portion correct 7-Eleven livery.
1990 Spice SE90P GTP (Estimate: $400,000 – $500,000)
In the 1980s and 1990s, British racing team Spice Engineering, founded by Gordon Spice and Raymond Bellm, developed several successful competition cars, including this 1990 SE90P GTP. Initially sold new to Hotchkis Racing, the 6.5-liter Pontiac V8-powered prototype was purchased by Wonder directly from Hotchkis in 2006, giving it just two owners from new.
1985 March 85G GTP (Estimate: $250,000 – $350,000)
This 1985 March 85G GTP, a model designed by legendary British engineer Adrian Newey, is a Chevrolet-powered example finished in iconic Budweiser livery. Sold new to DeAtley Racing, the team of businessman and financier Neil DeAtley, this mid-80s competition car holds an impressive period race history. A veteran of the 1985 12 Hours of Sebring, this March 85G GTP also participated in races at Daytona, Laguna Seca, and Road Atlanta, achieving a career highlight by placing second at the 1985 GP of Miami. Drivers included David Hobbs, Darin Brassfield, and Arie Luyendyk.
1972 AAR Gurney Eagle Indy Car (Estimate: $250,000 – $350,000)
As a definitive 1970s USAC Champ Car, the Eagle developed by Dan Gurney’s All American Racers is integral to American motor sport history. Designed by Roman Slobodynskyj, the 1972 Indy Eagle was the fastest car of the year, and without a doubt the most popular customer Indy car of its time. This particular example, chassis 72-11, one of only 28 believed to have been built, was powered by a Ford four-cam V-8 engine and driven by Mel Kenyon in the 1973 and 1974 Indianapolis 500s, finishing fourth in ’73.
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