Sale of Rare Nazi-Era Porsche Sputters After Sotheby’s Auction Blunder

As the curtains parted, the frenzied automotive aficionados raced to get out their smartphones to seize the second for posterity. Several of them cheered.

They had come to see Lot No. 362, the much-heralded Porsche Type 64, a swooping Nazi-era automotive that was constructed by the automaker Ferdinand Porsche 9 years earlier than he based his automotive firm.

The bidding on the avant-garde coupe, referred to by some automotive collectors because the “first” Porsche, had been anticipated to open at $13 million throughout an RM Sotheby’s Auction on Saturday evening in Monterey, Calif. But one thing went awry, and the bidding began a lot larger than deliberate.

“When they mentioned 30 million to start, I thought that’s quite a strong starting price,” David Lee, a automotive collector and businessman from the Los Angeles space who was within the viewers, mentioned in an interview on Sunday. The auctioneer had an accent, he mentioned, “and didn’t say the teens well. Is he really saying 30 or 13?”

It did not name the auctioneer.

Just three of the Porsche-designed Type 64s were planned for production, and only one remains. The car’s modified, air-cooled Volkswagen four-cylinder engine puts out about 32 horsepower and can reach a top speed of about 88 miles per hour.

The car was supposed to be part of a propaganda campaign, marking the Nazis’ 1938 alliance with Italy and the absorption of Austria. Porsche also designed the KdF-Wagen, commissioned by Hitler as the people’s car, which became famous after the war as the Volkswagen Beetle.

Chris Harris of the British series “Top Gear” fawned over the Porsche Type 64 during a recent test drive.

“This is like breaking into a safe somewhere in America,” he said. “Someone finds an old safe in a building, and you crack it open and you find a little book that says, ‘This is the recipe for Coca-Cola.’ That’s what this is in a car.”

RM Sotheby’s was still advertising the car on its auction website. Sotheby’s acquired an ownership interest in RM Auctions, which specializes in vintage cars, in early 2015.

“We will continue making every effort to sell the car,” the auction house said.

Mr. Lee did not come away from the Monterey auctions empty-handed.

“I’m more of a Ferrari collector,” said Mr. Lee, who posted the winning bid on a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS auctioned by Gooding & Company.

He declined to say how much the winning bid was.

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