There are many reasons why a classic car can become a significant asset. Rarity, authenticity, low mileage and collectability are all factors that can make vehicles from past generations very expensive on today’s market.
But what about ‘cute’?
That’s the adjective best used to describe a selection of models being offered at a major auction in Switzerland tomorrow from a single-owner collection.
They are part of one man’s stash of charming motors acquired through a fascination with predominantly German and Italian marques dating back to the 1970s.
We pick our seven favourite examples from the 93 being offered to buyers at the RM Sotheby’s St. Moritz sale on Friday 15 September – and we reckon you will be bowled over by at least one of them.
The ‘cutest car collection’ of all time is set to go under the hammer tomorrow (Friday 15 September): We’ve picked out our seven favourite motors from the Iseli Collection of 93 vehicles. Collated since childhood, it’s one of the most eclectic garages built by one owner in Europe and every one is sold without reserve
The Iseli Collection has been amassed by Daniel Iseli, a lifelong car enthusiast with an eye for eclectic two and four-wheeled machinery since childhood.
He first owned a Volkswagen Beetle at the age of 16 and has since worked his way through an enviable ownership history of some of the finest cars to have ever been built.
The Iseli Collection has grown enormously in the years that followed, with the best of the examples offered in the one auction in Switzerland.
All have been ‘kept in fine condition throughout the long and colourful custodianship of their passionate curator,’ says RM Sotheby’s.
The 93 lots going under the hammer at the end of the week span 18 different brands, from Alfa Romeo to Volkswagen, and include everything from scooters to road cars, racers, tractors, trucks and even an ambulance!
Among them is a selection of very high-value cars indeed, including an original Audi Quattro, three Porsche 911s from different eras, a low-mileage Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 and a rare eighties Mercedes 190E Nürburgring – one of just 21 ever made that was raced by legendary F1 star Niki Lauda – that could go for half a million pounds.
However, it’s his ultra-cute vehicles that steal the show.
These are the seven best examples we think would make an adorable addition to any garage…
1. 1970 Fiat 500L with matching trailer
If you’re a fan of the diminutive Fiat 500 but want more luggage space? This might be the solution for you…
This beautiful 1970 Fiat 500 L comes with a matching luggage trailer. The trailer, created in 2004, was made from a donor Fiat 500
Inside the full size Fiat 500, the cabin looks meticulous with supple leather seats, the original door cards, switchgear, steering wheel and instrument cluster
Find a pristine 1970 Fiat 500L and you’ll already need to spend in the region of £19,750 for it, according to classic car valuations experts at Hagerty.
But this one – expected to sell for CHF25k to CHF30k (£22k to £27k) – has a very unique feature as well as being in stunning condition.
While small cars tend to be inherently cute, they sometimes lack the practicality needed for weekend excursions.
However, that’s where this 1970 Fiat 500 L shines. That’s because it is being sold with a matching trailer fashioned out of an additional Fiat 500 to match that was created in 2004 out of a donor Cinquecento.
2. 1967 Piaggio Ape 400
The ‘Ape car’ is still a hugely common sight on Italian roads. Based on a scooter with three wheels, it has two doors and this version is one of the earliest examples with a fully enclosed body
This example was originally delivered to Sicily in 1967. The ‘Ape car’ was intended to offer the practicality of a moving van in a bite-sized vehicle
The controls consist of handlebars instead of a steering wheel and a four-speed manual gearbox with the controls on the right bar
RM Sotheby’s describes this as a ‘piece of pure Italian joy’.
It’s a Piaggio Ape 400 that was originally delivered to Sicily.
The ‘Ape car’ was intended to offer the practicality of a moving van in a bite-sized vehicle. And this example is the first generation of the compact commercial vehicle to have a complete enclosure balanced upon its trio of tiny wheels.
The city-based delivery truck is powered by a 150cc two-stroke petrol engine mated to a four-speed, handlebar-shift manual gearbox.
3. 1958 Fiat 600 Berlinetta ‘Monterosa’
This 1958 Fiat 600 Berlinetta ‘Monterosa’ is one of three ever built and this particular car was displayed at the Turin Motor Show in the same year of its inception
The diminutive vehicle has a wide smiling front grille with a single lamp in the centre. It has a jet plane-inspired bonnet emblem. The car originally started out as a Fiat 600 Multipla and is one of only three created by design house Carrozzeria Monterosa
The dark green interior with contrasting white piping remains in stunning condition. The instrument cluster behind the steering wheel has five separate dials
One of the most personable cars in the sale, accentuated by a wide smiling front grille ‘face’ and a single central lamp, is this Fiat 600 Berlinetta ‘Monterosa’ in a two-tone paint scheme.
Exhibited at the Turin Motor Show in 1958, this Monterosa is one of only three ever built.
Its story becomes even more remarkable when realizing it was originally registered as a 600 Multipla people carrier before being converted into this sweet saloon by Turinese design house Carrozzeria Monterosa.
Sotheby’s says it is a ‘rare, jet-age jewel’ with a pristine interior. And it could sell for CHF50,000 to CHF60,000 – or £45k to £54k.
4. 1972 Volkswagen Type 2 Single-Cab Pickup
This gorgeous VW Type 2 has been converted into a load-lugging flat-bed truck with a single cab
It was delivered new to Italy but brought into the collection in 2018. It then underwent a full restoration and remains in stunning condition
The single cab means there’s room for three up front. The yellow leather seats are a wonderful contrast to the pastel green exterior paintwork
Another vehicle from the eclectic Iseli Collection is this wonderful 1972 VW Type 2 that’s been retrofitted into a single-cab ‘Late Bay’ pick-up with a wood-lined flatbed.
It was delivered new to Italy but brought into the collection in 2018. It then underwent a full restoration and remains in that condition to the present day.
The combination of soft wood and extremely light pastel-green paint screams retro.
And what it offers in collectability it matches in practical load lugging. The auction house thinks it will go for more than £30,000.
5. 1965 Fiat 600 Spider by Vignale
Carrozzeria Vignale is an Italian coachbuilder that’s well known for turning its hand on period Ferrari chassis. But this is something a little different
The Iseli Collection includes this fabulous two-door Fiat 600 Spider convertible. It has silver paint and a contrasting maroon soft-top
Very few examples of this sporty four-seater (though compact for those in the back) were ever created, making this a serious collector opportunity
We’ve already had a Fiat 600 converted into a Berlinetta, so how about a convertible spider instead?
Coachwork specialists Carrozzeria Vignale, which is known for applying a unique vision to period Ferrari chassis, has transformed the curvy 600 into a sharp-looking soft-top with silver paint and contrasting maroon roof and interior.
It was first registered on 9 May 1965 and has benefitted from extensive restoration work carried out between 2014 and 2016 and this year had a complete engine overhaul.
It’s safe to say you are unlikely to see another one on the road, with the dinky Fiat sporting a timeless face accented by its cute chrome bumper.
6. 1964 Mercedes-Benz L319 Pickup
Another example from the Iseli Collection that will almost certainly draw lots of attraction is this classic-era Mercedes-Benz truck
The 1964 Mercedes-Benz L319 Pickup is estimated to sell for – once converted from Swiss Francs – between £108,000 and £135,000
The L319 Pickup was a particular point of pride for Daniel Iseli, who opted to upholster the interior of this practical vehicle with the same tartan cloth as found in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Woodwork in the cargo bay is also finished to a level not typically seen on a practical vehicle
Another fine example from the collection is this classic-era Mercedes-Benz truck.
Fully restored in recent years, the L319 Pickup was a particular point of pride for Daniel Iseli, who opted to upholster the interior of this practical vehicle with the same tartan cloth as found in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Woodwork in the cargo bay is also finished to a level not typically seen on a commercial vehicle of this type.
As Daniel Iseli summarised: ‘People may say, ‘this guy is crazy to restore such a car,’ but I think it is a lovely piece, especially for a company that is in the trucking business or [a client who] wants something special.’
A truly magical Mercedes-Benz, one that underlines the care in which Daniel Iseli brought to all of his collection. And like all of the incredible vehicles on our list, this L319 will sell without reserve.
7. 1960 Fiat 600 Multipla Ambulance by Coriasco
The final example for the 93-strong list of vehicles being sold in the Iseli Collection is this fabulous Fiat 600 Multipla ambulance conversion
Thanks to its spacious interior but dinky overall dimensions, one popular use for the original Multipla was as emergency services vehicles, like fire engines and ambulances
Unveiled at the 1956 Brussels Motor Show, the Fiat 600 Multipla was a marvel of clever packaging. Thanks to a forward cabin positioned above the front axle and the absence of a front boot, the Multipla could accommodate up to six adults in relative comfort despite only being as long as an original Mini Cooper.
It became a staple of Italian metropolitan street scenes for the following two decades, with its diminutive dimensions perfectly suited to narrow city roads.
And one popular use for the original Multipla was conversions to fire engines and even ambulances.
The cabin accommodates a full-size stretcher, while externally the ambulance was fitted with a Hella flashing emergency light
Today, chassis 080017 still retails its period-correct oxygen tank and first aid box. There will be vey few vehicles like this available on the market today
Chassis 080017 is an example of the latter, and was converted for medical use by Carrozzeria Coriasco of Turin.
The cabin was completely re-worked to accommodate a full-size stretcher, while externally the ambulance was fitted with a Hella flashing emergency light. Today, it still has the oxygen tank and period-correct first aid box.
The car is said to have spent its early years in service at the airfield belonging to Agusta, the Italian helicopter manufacturer. In later life it was subject to restoration after joining The Iseli Collection in 2013; invoices on file amount to more than €43,000 of parts and restoration work.
It could go for upwards of £60,000 in Friday’s sale.
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