Conservation of Speed | Morton St. Partners

1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster


For the first all-automotive exhibition at Morton Street Partners, four vehicles from NY collector Jim Taylor were on view prior to heading to auction. Conservation of Speed is a fitting title that reflects the attributes of design, originality and performance that are at the core of each of these cars. Each is also a rare artifact, amazingly preserved, from a distinct period in time.

The earliest, a 1937 Horch to the most recent, a 2006 Ferrari illustrate the vast leap in engineering and technology spanning 70 years. However there is a aesthetic thread of flowing shapes that’s common to each. There’s four varied takes on the sculptural expression of movement and speed.

It was a joy to spend some time analyzing the lines and observing the surface changes on each of these cars. It’s my second encounter with the Jaguar D-Type this year. It also caught my eye at the 2022 Greenwich Concours.

Photos and Intro Text: Dave Pinter
Vehicle Descriptions: Morton St. Partners

1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

Mercedes-Benz’s 300 SL Roadster kept the iconic lines of its “Gullwing” predecessor and went topless for elegant summer motoring. Between 1957 and 1963, the “who’s who” of the world’s wealthiest, most fascinating, and important individuals owned these legendary Roadsters. Jim Taylor acquired this 300 SL in 2005 and had it thoroughly sorted by specialist Mark Allin over the course of several years. Remarkably, the original numbers-matching engine is present, as well as all correct stampings and tags throughout. This 300 SL comes replete with original documentation, fitted luggage, original interior materials, soft top boot, and factory black hard top.

1937 Horch 853A Cabriolet

Horch’s 853 was one of the grandest European automobiles of its era, a robustly engineered eight-cylinder luxury tourer that competed with supercharged Mercedes-Benzes. It was an imposing, smooth autobahn automobile, favored by worldwide society. Postwar, this 853 was acquired by a U.S. Army Captain and imported to New York, where it remained for 50-years before being sold to Jim Taylor in 2006. It has benefitted from significant mechanical sorting with all components carefully rebuilt, while preserving its patinated originality. Judged a class award-winner at Pebble Beach in 2008, this 853 represents a benchmark for all others to be compared and retains considerable invoices and original paperwork.

2006 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano ‘Pan-American 20,000’

The 599 GB Fiorano, so named for Ferrari’s private test facility “Circuito di Fiorano”, was the most powerful Ferrari ever built upon its introduction in 2006, and was a car simultaneously capable of comfortable grand-touring as well as 205 MPH top speed runs. To demonstrate the versatility of the platform, Ferrari built two factory specials for a 20,000 mile rally from Brazil to New York. Both cars completed the epic journey-and while the Ferrari Factory proudly retains the red sister car, this Blu Tour de France example is offered as the sole private example.

1955 Jaguar D-Type

The 1950s marked a period of radical change in road racing and automotive design. Advanced aeronautical concepts, spurred on by the rapid technological development of WWil, gave engineers new ways to shape materials and create objects that moved more freely through the air. The race cars of this era are often said to have been “sculpted by the wind.” There is perhaps no car more illustrative of this approach to design than the Jaguar D-Type, one of the most successful race cars ever built, and one of the first objects designed in a wind tunnel not for purposes of flight but for purposes of outright speed.