So what's up with Jerry Seinfeld selling his Porsche 917/30 race car only four years after he paid $4.4-million for it?
An estimated hammer price of $5-7 million at Friday's Gooding & Gooding auction might account for the decision, except money doesn't matter to the comedian. He owned 47 cars, before consigning 18 to Gooding & Gooding.
Impossible to ask him why, Seinfeld's not giving interviews prior to the Amelia Island, Fla., concours d'elegance and sales – but a likely explanation can be framed in a few lines, imagining his television series didn't wrap in 1998 and he's showing his pals the 917/30 for the first time.
George Costanza, incredulous and aggrieved, shouts: "So Jerry, you mean to tell me this car – for which you paid millions! – just happens to be painted exactly the same as the one Mark Donohue drove at Mosport, June 10, 1973, bearing the same number 6, BUT IN FACT IS A DIFFERENT CAR?!"
Elaine Benes: "And Donohue was miles ahead at Mosport and crashed into a slower car he was lapping ... and Donohue won the next six races in a row, so they banned the Porsche from the series. Not that your car had one single thing to do with that, Jerry."
George: "The baseball equivalent, I walk in carrying a Babe Ruth bat and the room is agog – but it's a replica bat autographed by rubber-stamp, not one The Bambino so much as touched. NOT THE REAL THING!"
Authenticity matters in the old car hobby. Authenticity might even fuel a closing monologue, because what was real enough for Seinfeld in 2012 may not satisfy him today.
Amelia founder Bill Warner's concours has become can't miss since it began in 1996, because he invariably showcases cars so rare their authenticity is breathtaking. Giotto Bizzarrini, fired by Enzo Ferrari in 1961, made 100 beautiful cars bearing his name, of which only three were open-top: all three 5300 SI Spyders will be on show Sunday.
Amelia's headline car, the Pegaso Z-102, was created in Spain by Wilfredo Ricart, who had displaced Ferrari at Alfa Romeo in the 1930s, with a supercharged, four-cam, 2.5-litre V-8. Introduced in 1953, only 84 were made. Warner has accumulated nearly 10 per cent of the total.
Should the auction hammer fall on $17-million for the 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider, the bidder will have accepted it's among 37 such cars equipped with faired-in headlamps. Authentic.
Seinfeld's 917/30: Inauthentic. It's real enough, having begun as one of three cars Porsche made for racing in 1974, but went astray after the rules were changed to render the 917/30 obsolete and Porsche's Australian distributor purchased the car to grace a showroom.
Decades later, Porsche made the decision to make it a pretender, painting the white bodywork in Penske Racing's Sunoco blue and yellow as a tribute to Donohue's championship-winner, before selling the car to an American collector in 1991.
Seinfeld knew all this – along with the fact this Can-Am car never actually raced in the Can-Am – in 2012 when he paid more than any Porsche had commanded (the record stands now at $10.1-million).
But that was 2012. Any collector's take on what's golden and gilded evolves. Seinfeld exhibited a new fix on authenticity in last month's Sports Car Market magazine, responding to Porsche expert Miles Collier suggesting the $583,000 Seinfeld paid for a 1958 Porsche Speedster at a Pebble Beach auction in August, was way too much.
"Once again we have a sad example of a naive buyer whose heart is in the right place trying to buy an unrestored, original car and paying a whopping great premium for the privilege," Collier wrote, before describing the Speedster as a neglected car with massive needs.
Seinfeld disagreed, saying he'd changed the clutch, did the brakes, gone driving. "You don't have to be some highly attuned, overly obsessed enthusiast to get in this car and go, 'This is amazing,'" he said.
"I don't know why people have trouble appreciating or perceiving that originality is the end point of what we do," he said. "This was just somebody's car. That is what made it so compelling."
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