November 16, 2010 / 6:52 AM / in 7 years

"Mythical" Aussie racing car likely to fetch $394,000

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - A car owned by Australian motoring legend Peter Brock went on sale on Tuesday, and auction organizers said the rare piece of Australian racing history is likely to sell for nearly $394,000, more than estimated.

It is likely to take several days for winning bid to be announced for the 1987 red Holden VL HDT Director, considered by some aficionados the most sought-after car built in Australia.

"We're quite pleased with the way the event went," said James Nicholls, National Head of Collectors' Motorcars at Sotheby's Australia, adding the car had sparked "enormous interest."

The classic Director, one of eight cars going under the hammer on Tuesday, had been predicted to fetch around 300,000 Australian dollars ($295,600), but Nicholls said: "We're looking at closer to 400,000 (dollars)."

In a first for Sotheby's Australia, the sale was being conducted by private tender and the results would only be announced if the buyer consented -- a move that Nicholls said reflected current economic conditions.

"In today's environment, there are people who are interested in purchasing things but don't really want to say so," he added.

Dubbed a controversial car, the Director led to Brock's breakup with automaker Holden, which he represented for decades.

It was purchased for A$87,000 and restored by its current owner to "meticulous condition," Sotheby's said.

The car includes an "energy polarizer," a device that Brock promoted and which is said to include magnets to improve handling. The polarizer was widely criticized by many in the Australian motor racing community as pseudoscience.

"I've described this car as 'mythical,'... but this car has an aura to it. It presents beautifully," Nicholls said.

Other cars on offer included a 1937 SS Jaguar 100, a 1958 Austin-Healey 100-Six BN6 and a Lancia Aurelia B20 GT 2500 Coupe, also from 1958.

Brock was killed in a car crash at the age of 61 when the car he was racing hit a tree during a rally in Western Australia in September 2008.

Reporting and writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Miral Fahmy

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