Future and past collide as my electric Merc glides me to an auction of bad-ass, classic collectables
Pulling up silently in a brand-new electric Mercedes EQS to view a classic car auction of bad-ass collectable V12s, is, if not entirely inappropriate then a tad schizophrenic.
A couple of days ago, I was invited by a company called Creative Rides to a special media preview in Constantiaberg, Cape Town, to get up close and personal with about 70 classic gems to be auctioned off in what was touted to be the largest classic and collectable car auction this decade.
Arriving in my state-of-the-art electric Merc EQS, I could not have chosen a more polarising ride to highlight the difference between what’s happening in motoring these days and the golden liquid fuel era, when the internal combustion engine was king of the lot.
Over the next few hours, as I strolled up and down aisles of aged metal, refurbished leather and gleaming chrome, the Creative Rides’ collection left me breathless. From a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray V8 LS5, to a 1971 Ford Capri Perana V8 Automatic, from a 1985 Alfa Romeo GTV6 3L, to a 1987 BMW 333i, there were classic Landies and Porsches, Ferraris and Mercs, you name it, all in their impeccable restored glory.
(Here’s a short video of the top classics on the lot.)
I then took a spin as a passenger in a left-hand-drive powder-blue Karmann Ghia coupé which made me feel like I was swanning around in some glamorous 1960s movie. But the oldie that really captured my heart was a bright blue Citroën DS 20 Pallas, in impeccable condition, similar to the model in which French President Charles de Gaulle escaped an assassination attempt back in 1964, thanks to the superior performance of his presidential cabbie. For a minute or two I contemplated dipping into my access bond to buy the Citroën on the spot.
While I wasn’t able to personally attend the packed-out auction day this past Saturday, I spent a thrilling four hours watching it online. And so too did many other classic car fans and registered bidders from 14 countries including Italy, India, Dubai, Switzerland, New Zealand and Japan.
On hammer day, a bunch of collectables smashed the R1-million price barrier, breaking the record set at Creative Rides’ auction four months earlier in Joburg. These included a 1987 BMW 333i, which went for R1.255-million, as well as another Beemer — a magnificent 2017 BMW M4 GTS — coming in for slightly less at R1.175-million. A 1987 red Ferrari 328 GTS sold for a cool R1.1-million, while an impeccably restored 1962 Alfa Giulia Sprint SS fetched R1.25-million.
But it was another Italian car, the 1957 Alfa Giulietta Sprint Veloce Lightweight 750E Conrero racer that ultimately stole the show, selling to a Swiss national, who was represented by a bidder on the floor in Cape Town, for a whopping R2.7-million.
“We weren’t at all surprised by the level of interest in this car considering Bertone’s tiny production run (believed to be between 100 and 200 cars), which has made the Alfa Giulietta Sprint Veloce Lightweight one of the rarest cars in the world,” said Creative Rides CEO, Kevin Derrick.
“We also don’t know of any other 1957 Veloce Lightweight chassis that was then further modified for racing by Virgilio Conrero at his Autotecnica Conrero facility. Top that off with a virtually concours restoration and what you have is a unique classic of extreme value and outstanding beauty.”
Care for a spin, Kev?
On the way out, I took CEO Kev for a spin in my ultra-modern EV S Class. First released globally in 2021, the EQS is the flagship in a series of battery electric vehicles that by 2025 will account for 15-25% of the German company’s global sales.
Four of these EVs were unveiled at the local Festival of Motoring last year: the EQA, EQB, EQC and the one I was driving, the EQS. (The naming convention on Merc’s new electric family matches directly to their internal combustion engine counterparts — the A Class, B Class, C Class and the luxury saloon S Class.)
The EQS is available in two models locally, the more “entry level” EQS 450+, which has an electric powertrain on the rear, and yields a total output of 245kW and 568Nm of torque and is powered by a 107.8kWh battery. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds.
The performance model, AMG EQS 53 4Matic+, has peak outputs of 484kW and 950Nm. However, along with the AMG Dynamic Plus package (for an additional R82,000), maximum power increases to 560kW, with peak torque climbing to a whopping 1,020Nm (when in Race Start mode). Speed time comes in at a breathtaking 0-100km/h in just 4.2 seconds.
Classic car nut Kev was somewhat perturbed when I switched on the 5.2m long and almost 2m wide electric brute only to be met with ghostly silence. “Where’s the bloody exhaust?” he fumed.
But as we glided like a ghost through the back streets of Constantiaberg he warmed up a bit to the ride as he surveyed the luxurious cabin, with its 12.3-inch digital driver display, and central 12.8-inch OLED screen from which all the tech, including EV settings, navigation, apps, media, general info and smartphone integration, can be accessed. We marvelled at the futuristic textured design of the Merc three-star symbol covering the dashboard, which made it look like a little supernova cosmos.
I didn’t have enough time to show Kev what the EQS’s real party trick is — an ability to fast-charge up to 300km in just 15 minutes and an applause-worthy range of 782km, which puts any threat of range anxiety soundly in the boot. Talking of which, the EQS has a hatchback-style tailgate, making it a dream car for a traveller packing tons of luggage with its generous capacity of 610 litres.
Over the following few days, the EQS, with its sporty, low coupé-like silhouette, attracted gasps of appreciation whenever I pulled up at a traffic light or stopped in a parking lot.
As far as the drive went, it yielded instant power and radiated silent perfection in the way only a German electric car can. But every so often my mind would wander to that 1970s DS2 Citroën. Perhaps I should have thrown caution to the wind and bought it? Turns out it went for an unexpectedly reasonable price of R240k on auction day. That’s probably what you’d pay to replace the rims and tyres on the EQS.
Mercedes EQS 450+ sedan — R2,615,100
Mercedes EQS AMG 53 4Matic+ sedan — R3,410,100 DM