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From the Beverly Hillbillies to a Cobra Supersnake - Inside the World's Greatest Car Auction

Posted on December 15, 2014

2015 revs up with the throatiest roar ever in the world of classic cars when one of the world’s biggest collectors, Ron Pratte, sells more than 140 vehicles in one go!

Quite simply this is the most incredible collection to ever come on the market.

Car enthusiasts and collectors the world round are sure to want to get their hands on one of Pratte’s classics in an auction which has been tipped to raise more than $64 million when the lots, which also include 1500 pieces of automobilia, go under the hammer in Arizona on Tuesday, January 13.

And that’s going to mean a lot of work shipping those one-off cars, trucks and motorbikes around the world.

According to TheRichest.com, Pratte is worth around $US350 million after making his money in wood framing and concrete foundations in Arizona and selling out shortly before the housing bubble burst.

His profile goes on to list just some of this incredible car collection:
Ron Pratte is best known for his elaborate car collection as a big car buff. Among his collection of fine automobiles included the Shelby G500 which he purchased in 2008 for nearly $650 thousand. Last year, he bought a $4.1 million Futurliner bus. He also won the bid for Caroll Shelby’s 1966 Super Snake AC Cobra 800hp 427 dual quad, dual supercharged for $5 million. Other cars in his collection are the 1945 P-51 Mustang, the last Sting Ray, the first T Bird off the assembly line, and the Beverly Hillbillies Woody. Part of his fortune has been used to build up his privately owned car museum which is intended for his own personal enjoyment.

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Auctioneers Barrett-Jackson are understandably excited about having the chance to auction off the Pratte collection, much of which was bought at the Scottsdale, Arizona, auctions in previous years. CEO Craig Jackson described the collection as “possibly the largest and most diverse to cross any collector car auction block over the past decade” and company president Steve Davis said the event “will be a big day for many collectors who have had their eye on some of these fantastic cars. Of course, we’re also looking forward to the excitement when some of the crown jewels of the Ron Pratte Collection, like the Shelby Cobra Super Snake, cross the block.”

If you want a closer look at the “crown jewels” then their website is currently counting down the days until the hammer falls on this incredible collection by profiling some of the lots. The variety and quality is breath-taking.

Lot 2503 is a customized 1953 Buick Roadmaster which was the last car driven by pioneering film-maker, tycoon and aviator Howard Hughes. Despite having only 5339 miles on the clock, the Roadmaster has all the trappings of luxury you’d expect for transporting one of the world’s richest men, who converted the electrical system so he could jump-start his planes and introduced a trunk-mounted air conditioning unit with a dust trap and bacterial filter to counter his obsession with germs.

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Lot 2505 is a 1912 Packard Sightseeing Bus once used at Yosemite National Park first by the US Army and the National Park Service, but also by a gold prospector to ferry around potential investors.

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Although there’s a wonderful 1929 Indian 401 motorcycle on the auction list, the pick of the two-wheeled classics must be lot 2506, a 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank which was one of only 150 models built in 1907 – just the famous company’s third year of production.

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It’s not all muscle and US history though, as lot 2093 shows. This 1956 BMW Isetta Convertible is ultra cute but displays all the features of a vehicle conjured up by Italy’s Iso Works, which were more renowned for their kitchen appliances).

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The ultimate large-scale vehicle has to be the 1950 GM Futurliner Bus, which was one of only 12 ever made and which Pratte bought at Barrett-Jackson for $US4.3 million. Lot 2501 is one of only three Futurliners to have been restored to the condition it was in when it toured the States as part of GM’s “Parade of Progress” between 1940 and 1956.

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Possibly the sexiest member of the Pratte family is lot 2507, the one-of-a-kind Blastolene B-702 Custom Roadster. It was built in 2007 but inspired by the great French cars of the 1930s.

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The piece de resistance, though, of the whole auction must be lot 1301, Carroll Shelby’s 1966 personal dual supercharged Cobra Supersnake, which Pratte shelled out $US5 million for in 2007. Only one other version of the 800 horsepower car was built – for comedian Bill Cosby – but after inspiring the comedy album 200MPH, the car proved too powerful for Cosby and he sold it on to a customer who wrecked it. Speaking nearly a decade ago Shelby said of his Cobra “When I built this dual supercharged 427 Cobra in 1966, I wanted it to be the fastest, meanest car on the road. Forty years later, it will still kick the tail of just about anything in the world.”

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