Not just a rock star, J. Geils was a hardcore car guy with impeccable taste and a special passion for Italian machines. A few of his favorite cars are headed for auction at Monterey next week. Here’s a look.
“I’ve always been enthused about Italian cars,” said rock legend and gearhead J. Geils, founder of the J. Geils Band, explaining his life-long love for the machines. “The Italians build cars the same way we play music. They build cars with passion.” Thanks to the over-the-top success of his band, a virtual hit-making factory all through the ’70s and ’80s, Geils was able to race, restore, and experience Italy’s most exotic (and expensive) sports cars.
But as the rocker passed his 60th birthday, he noted, his focus shifted—to historically important Italian machines that he could drive and enjoy every day. Unfortunately, the music world and the car world lost a friend when Geils passed away in April of this year at age 71. His beloved, hand-picked personal collection, now owned by his wife of 28 years, Kris Geils, will be offered at the Mecum Auctions Monterey sale on Saturday, August 19 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey. Below are some examples. (All photos courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)
As a scholar of Italian engineering, Geils (the J. stands for John) would have to include a Lancia in his collection, naturally. This 1967 Flaminia 2.8 3C boasts classic Lancia V6 power and lightweight Superleggera aluminum bodywork by Touring of Milan. Presale estimate $150,000-$175,000.
As we might expect, Geils’ enthusiasm for Italian machinery extended to motorcycles as well, including the one he called his favorite, the 1983 Benelli 900 Sei. He personalized the six-cylinder sportbike with clip-on handlebars, a cafe racer seat, and other touches. Presale estimate $9,000 – $13,000.
This 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 came from the factory with no radio. Instead, the glorious music is provided by the Columbo-designed 3.0-liter V12 with triple Weber carburetors. Geils, who liked to turn his own wrenches, corrected one original shortcoming of the 250 GTE, its weak overdrive transmission, by installing a Ferrari Daytona five-speed box. Presale estimate $275,000 – $325,000.
The Ducati Desmo is classic Italian engineering, with its unique valvetrain that does away with valve springs in favor of an ingenious opening/closing mechanism shaped like a miniature racing track—hence the term desmodromic (desmos + dromos.) This beautiful 1970 350 Desmo was formerly part of the famed Carlo Saltarelli collection. Presale estimate $10,000 – $15,000.
To represent Fiat in his historical roster of Italian machines, Geils chose this 1967 Dino Spyder (below and in lead photo above). He deliberately sought out solid-driving originals for his collection rather than finely restored garage queens, and this Spyder with 2.0-liter V6 and five-speed gearbox was one of his favorites. Presale estimate $90,000 – $110,000.