On the Auction Block — Cars from the Malcolm Pray Collection

Proceeds from the sales will ensure continued operation of the Pray Achievement Center where school children learn how to be successful.

Malcolm Pray's a 1937 Delahaye Torpedo Roadster.
Malcolm Pray's a 1937 Delahaye Torpedo Roadster.

A number of rare automobiles from the Malcolm Pray car collection will be on the auction block at this weekend's Amelia Island (FL) Concours d’Elegance.

Until his passing in August 2013, the Greenwich resident's name was synonymous with rare and collectible automobiles for decades. From Greenwich to Pebble Beach and Paris, on the Concours d'Elegance circuit around the world, the auto magnate was a frequent award winner with examples from his collection of nearly 80 autos. 

And since its inception in 1996, the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance in Roger Sherman Baldwin Park was the backdrop for the showing of dozens of Prays cars.

Many of the those cars —16 to be exact — will be up on the auction block Saturday, March 9 at the Amelia Island Ritz where the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will draw collectors from around the world for the weekend.

According to Sabrina Forsythe, Pray's daughter who is now at the helm of the Pray Achievement Center and Automotive Museum in Banksville, NY, the proceeds from the sale of her father's cars will endow the center and its mission to encourage children to be successful.

"My dad’s vision was to leave the achievement center in my hands and that I would continue fulfilling the mission he began — educate children to become entrepreneurs," Forsythe explained. "I’m using his 18 points to success. They are very specific points … don’t be a bully, don’t get involved with drugs."

Forsythe's plan is to continue hosting gatherings of students at the achievement center, but have "self-made millionaires and entrepreneurs read my dad’s 18 points and explain how they used those points to be successful."

Among the cars to be auctioned are "Malcolm's French Mistress," a 1937 Delahaye Torpedo Roadster. Pray owned the French-built car for 50 years. It was the car that inspired him to become a successful auto dealership magnate. A 12-year-old Pray saw the car at the 1939 World's Fair in New York and vowed that he would own it someday. His affection for the car prompted his wife Natalie to dub it "Malcolm's French Mistress."

"He would use that car and explain to students that with a lot of hard work they could become millionaires and own cars like that," Forsythe said.

The car could bring command about $6 million at the auction being managed by RM Auctions. Other rare cars for sale include a 1937 Bugatti Roadster ($750,000 to $900,000), a 1934 Auburn speedster ($275,000 to $350,000); a 1958 BMW 507 Series Roadster ($1.4 to $1.8 million), and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II cabriolet ($1.5 to $1.8 million).

According to the auction catalog, Pray purchased the Ferrari from a dealership on Jerome Avenue in The Bronx in 1969 — for a total of $2,920.

When asked about the Ferrari purchase price, Forsythe laughed and said, "That’s not what it was about for him. It was the passion for an automobile not the price."

Forsythe and Pray's widow Natalie, plan to attend the auction for one last look at the cars. When the auction house car transporters arrived at the center last week, "It was one of the most difficult days of my life. I cried," Forsthye said.

Forsythe will continue her father's events of "Cars and Cocktails," private receptions and tours offered at auctions for local charity benefits. About 60 cars remain in the collection.

"He did so many of them. I want to make them more exclusive, so we'll be offering Cars and Cocktails to benefit four Greenwich organizations only," Forsythe said. The organizations include Kids in Crisis, Greenwich Hospital and the Greenwich YWCA.

In keeping some of her father's traditions, the public will be able to view some of the cars at the 2014 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance and at the Old Greenwich Fourth of July parade. "We'll also be hosting Republican events," Forsythe said. 

"These were all of his passions and we're going to keep them around," Forsythe said. 

Groups interested in touring the achievement center and museum, may contact Forsythe at ssfpboss@aol.com.    


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