Christie’s auctions from the Elizabeth Taylor collections set many records, but the best may be yet to come. Lincoln is displaying a classic car showcase at the Los Angeles Auto Show VIP Preview which includes a custom sapphire blue 1956 Lincoln Continental used by the Hollywood legend. This special exhibit also highlights the importance of L.A.’s own Peterson Automotive Museum and how best practices can help dedicated collectors achieve their goals.
The history of this very special Lincoln Continental is fascinating, but also a good example of why curators often discover important details about historic collectibles many years after they are acquired. The sapphire blue 1956 Lincoln Continental’s owner, auto enthusiast Robert Ratinoff, has started this effort with a large advantage. The car’s detailed maintenance records date back to its delivery in 1956 to a Beverly Hills agent. Contemporaries of Ms. Taylor recall the car to this day. Its custom exterior paint and two-tone leather interior were so meticulously matched to the color of Ms. Taylor’s legendary eyes that this unique vehicle is unforgettable.
The more technical aspects of researching the Continental’s history have required as much passion for detail as maintaining the automobile in mint condition. The serial number C56G3196 confirms that it was manufactured in 1956 in Dearborn, Michigan. The Body Spec OSO-56C-175-528-1, confirms the car was a special order — leading to details at the history archives of Ford Motor in Detroit. Its style 1-1- 60A, confirms that the custom car is truly one of a kind. But the records also indicate that the vehicle was leased, a common choice for actors and actresses in the 1950’s. More detailed research shows that most of the luxuries that surrounded Ms. Taylor and her husband , Producer Mike Todd, were also leased, including their mansion and private airplane. Although leasing is common, it makes researching historical records a challenging task.
This showcase exhibition at the VIP Preview is also an excellent example of key steps to success for serious collectors. It is possible to add substantial value to historic items through careful research, documentation and conservation. Exhibiting at prestigious events like Continental Collector Club meetings and the L.A. Auto Show also makes historic collectibles more valuable. The current owner is maximizing those benefits by operating a classic car leasing service.
This case study is also a reminder that the resale market offers boundless opportunities. Bidders who were disappointed by being outbid at the historic Elizabeth Taylor Collection auctions last winter can research and acquire items that are currently privately owned, just the way that Robert Ratinoff did. For example, in September 2010, 44 drawings that Taylor owned were auctioned at London’s Chiswick auction house for prices much lower than comparable drawings auctioned in the highly publicized December 2011 decorative art auction. Diligent collectors can advertise or network online to negotiate private sales from current owners.
The current owner of the custom sapphire blue 1956 Lincoln Continental, Robert Ratinoff, continues to collect important historic information about the car and information about photos from the 1950’s. Collecting experts who have more information are welcome to contact him at this link.