First in line is the vaunted Mercedes-Benz 500E. Its flared wheelarches tell a glancing petrolhead that the W124 in question has a five-liter V8 engine up front, producing 326 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. These 3,770-pound hulks of German engineering hit 60 mph in less than six seconds, and 100 mph arrives in 14. And they were all handbuilt at Porsche’s facilities, earning them the type code 2758 in Porsche’s official nomenclature. Atkinson’s 500E has been with him since 2015, and it has partially cloth seats as Atkinson prefers those to leather. The 1993-built car only has about 50,000 miles on the clock, and it’s reportedly the best example he was able to find.
The other saloon on offer is perhaps even more interesting: a 1989 Lancia Thema 8.32. These prestigious cousins of the Alfa Romeo 164 and Saab 9000 had a Ferrari-derived, Ducati-built 3.0-liter V8 engine driving the front wheels, producing 215 horsepower and coupled to a manual gearshift. Unlike the 308 and Mondial engines the unit is based on, the crankshaft is a cross-plane one rather than flat-plane, giving the engine more suitable characteristics for a sports saloon. Like the 500E, the Thema features a cloth interior; it’s been with Atkinson far longer as he has enjoyed it – and undoubtedly its pioneering, electrically raised rear spoiler – for seven years.
Were you to secure a seat at the auction on February 24th/25th, which one of the two super saloons would you try and win?