8 incredible cars that 'disrupted' motoring forever are up for auction

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

The phrase “disruption” has been so overused this year, Clayton Christensen, the Harvard professor who introduced the theory behind it 20 years ago, recently had to set the record straight on exactly what he meant.

In the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review, Christensen said Netflix fits the theory, and Uber doesn’t.

You can read more about why in detail here, but in short, disruptors start at the bottom and work their way up.

So maybe auction house RM Sotheby’s – a long way from startup – is jumping on the bandwagon a little with it latest automotive extravaganza, called “Driven by Disruption”. Not a lot of car manufacturers in the industry’s long and colourful history actually reinvented the wheel in ways other than make it spin faster.

But there is undeniably some pioneering moments on the block in New York on December 10. You can read the full catalogue here, (and if you’re a motoring fan you should, because it’s fascinating), but we’ve chosen some of the best – and the odd actual “disruptive” – moments for you below.

1956 Ferrari 290 MM

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

You’re buying racing history here. This is the car Enzo Ferrari built to win back world domination from Mercedes Benz in the 1950s. It’s the car which convinced Juan Manuel Fangio to drive for Ferrari, winning five world championships.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Including in the 1956 Mille Miglia, where, in torrential rain, only 182 of the 426 entrants finished the 1597km course made entirely of public roads. Fangio crossed the line in fourth – driving solo in the rain for 11 hours in an open top.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

And when we say “the car”, we mean the actual car. That’s why you’ll need about $US30 million in your sky rocket before you even think about bidding for it.

Price: $US28-$US32 million
See the full listing

1981 BMW M1

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

It’s a BMW, but designed by the Lamborghini legend behind the Countach and the man who drew the DeLorean.

Under the bonnet – the first M-Class engine from BMW Motorsports.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Tired of getting spanked by Porsche, BMW in the 80s decided it would engineer a race-purpose mid-engine car from the ground up, de-tune it for road use to meet the minimum Group 4 and 5 race certification requirements, and be left with a race winner. What they ended up with was a beast that proved so disruptive, the FIA had to change the formula to ensure the M1 couldn’t compete.

And yuppies the world over rejoiced.

This is one of 399 road-going models left which started the now legendary M-class line. It even comes with the original toolkit – unopened.

Price: $US800,000 – $US1,000,000
See the full listing

2003 Ferrari Enzo

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

The car that brought Ferrari into the 21st Century. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2002, it was bestowed with the company’s greatest honour by chairman Luca di Montezemolo:

“To bring together our racing success and the fundamental role of races, I decided that this car, which represents the best our technology is capable of, should be dedicated to the founder of the company, who always thought racing should lay the foundations for our road car designs. And so this model, which we are very proud of, will be known as the Enzo Ferrari.”

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

There were 399 built, and another one for Pope John Paul II.

However, this particular vehicle was owned by one of the greatest boxers of all time. There’s about 560 miles on the clock, and 200 of them came with Floyd Mayweather Jnr behind the wheel.

Price: $US3-3.5 million
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‘Salut Gilles’

One pioneer to another. This is one of celebrated carver Dennis Hoyt’s most sought-after pieces – a three-dimensional, 1.8 metre tall tribute to Canadian Formula 1 driver Gilles Villeneuve.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

While he never won a championship, Villenueve is widely considered the guy who set a new standard for breathtaking fast and reckless driving. He once famously lapped in a drenched US practice session some 11 seconds faster than the next guy, eventual 1979 champion Jody Scheckter.

And he admitted enjoying the moment when his wheels rubbed with a competitor’s at 200-odd km/h, evident in this, one of the most exciting F1 final laps ever:

Even the accident that killed him was as spectacular as it was tragic – Villenueve’s car was airborne for more than 100 metres.

Price: $US125,000-$US150,000

1972 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

The first supercar. Working nights against tractor magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini’s wishes, who preferred power over speed, designers led by 27-year-old Marcello Gandini built him a two-seat mid-engine high performance vehicle with a new V12 engine, transmission and differential.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

They called it “Miura”, and there was nothing like it on the road. Open the doors, and it looked like a bull – a tribute to the style of bullfighting after which it was named. It even had eyelashes and in that sense it was everything Lamborghini had stood for since, being beauty, impracticality, and sheer gall.

The first supercar. You don’t get much more disruptive than that.

Price: $US2.2-2.6 million
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1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

The bolter.

Spain, 1954, and as the nation crawls back from the economic doldrums of a world and civil war, its totalitarian dictator decides to build a “car for the people”. (Sound familiar?)

Except the Pegaso was extraordinary. Knocked together in a truck factory with the help of a brilliant, ring-in engineer Wilfred Ricart, it was a genuine Ferrari challenger. Some might say beater – it featured technology that Ferrari wouldn’t pick up for almost another 10 years in the 275 GTB.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

It had a top speed of 255km/h, aluminium panels and cost a bomb to build, so only 84 were before the project was written off.

Price: $US800,000-$US1 million
See the full listing

1991 Ferrari Testarossa

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Ferrari struck back at Lamborghini’s Countach in the 80s with one of its most dramatic designs and one that is still instantly recognisable today – the Testarossa.

Devoid of chrome, elegant, menacing and more importantly, a starring role on Miami Vice. Even today, you can’t make a movie about 80s icons without a Testarossa appearing somewhere.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Also, you won’t get one much closer to new condition. It’s one lady owner has only clocked up a grand total of 296 kilometres.

Price: $US400,000-$US500,000
See the full listing

Ferrari 250 Testarossa Children’s Car

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Disrupt your kids’ Christmas with this kids’ car that’s a real car. As in, a real Ferrari 250 Testarossa:

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

“The flick of a switch starts its gasoline-powered engine, allowing two small passengers to ride comfortably on the leather upholstery. Working headlights and taillights, correct badging, beautiful wire wheels, and a side mirror complete the illusion of a real racecar.”

Price: $US50,000-$US75,000
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Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porsche 356 SC Cabriolet

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

This one is clearly more about the owner, whose picture you wouldn’t be at all surprised to find in any dictionary under “disruption”.

The car itself, of course is instantly recognisable, painted with “The History of the Universe” by Joplin’s roadie Dave Richards.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Joplin’s hands were on the wheel throughout her sadly brief career up and down the west coast of the US. It was commandeered on the morning after she died in her Hollywood hotel room, by her lawyer, as the press gathered. And now her borthers and sisters, which had held onto it since 1970, are offering it for sale.

Price: $US4000,00-$US600,000
See the full listing

Porsche Type 917 Miniature Engine

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Porsche enthusiast, brilliant inventor, epic model maker. Before he became one of IBM’s most valued engineer, Herb Jordan had a side hobby recreating miniature Porsche engines from factory manuals.

Sotheby’s has a couple of his masterpieces for sale, but this Le Man’s winning 917 flat-12 which dominated racing in the 1960s took Jordan four painstaking years to recreate in 37cm long form.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

So nothing disruptive here – modeling remains modeling – but Jordan’s 54cc creation spins at an astonishing 24,000 revs per minute, helped along by a fuel injection pump the size of half a pencil, and twin turbochargers. And that’s just amazing.

Price: $US20,000-$US30,000
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Chevrolet Turbo-Jet 427 V8 Engine and Transmission Cutaway Model

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Chevrolet built this stunning model for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where it was displayed two years before being made publicly available. An incredible 26 million people passed through GM’s 21,300 square metre “Futurama II” pavilion.

Picture: RM Sotheby’s

Displayed in the “Avenue of Progress” with a 1964 Corvette Stingray, the engine was not only a brutal marvel yet to hit the roads, the model also drew gasps for its show trick – slidng apart to reveal the internal rotating components.

Price: $US60,000-$US80,000
See the full listing

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