1969 Adams Brothers M-505 Probe 16 headed to auction

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You there! Yes, you, the one with the large pocketbook and desire to stand out. Before you plunk down over a million bucks on the latest special edition supercar, we’ve got a far better option for you. It’s a car that’s one of just three ever built, has a mid-engine rear-wheel-drive layout with a manual transmission, and it even has a film pedigree. It’s a 1969 Adams Brothers M-505 Probe 16. You may not have heard of it until now, but you’ve probably seen it at a glance, and it’s amazing.

Most people will recognize this model of car, if they recognize it at all, from the Stanley Kubrick film “A Clockwork Orange,” a dystopian sci-fi film about young hoodlums wreaking havoc around England. They cruise around in what the film dubs the Durango 95, but is actually one of these Probe 16s. It’s not hard to see why the car was chosen, seeing as it features extraordinarily extreme design cues from the razor sharp nose to the fat rear fenders. The interior is arguably the most radical, as the seats lay nearly flat under the retracting canopy, the only entry to the cabin. The driver splits their legs between a column with gauges to get to the pedals, and the steering wheel is extremely stretched out with just two spokes.

Mechanically the Probe 16 is a bit less radical, but likely still fun. It uses a transverse-mounted four-cylinder from British Motor Corporation that was bored and tuned by a company called JanSpeed to 1.9 liters. Bonhams says it makes about 100 horsepower. But it does power the rear wheels, and it does have a four-speed manual transmission. Suspension is fully independent with disc brakes at all four corners.

Finally, although this isn’t the film car, it’s as close as you can get as it’s the only other right-hand-drive example. It also bears the same bold orange paint job. Under the hood, the car has been signed by the star of “A Clockwork Orange,” Malcolm McDowell. This car did have some publicity, though, as it was the example displayed at the 1969 London Motor Show. It has also been on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum since last year.

If you have the means to add this fascinating car to your collection, you’ll have an opportunity to do that on August 14 during the Bonhams Quail auction, moved to Los Angeles from Monterey in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The auction house estimates it will go for between $150,000 and $250,000, a fraction of the cost of special edition supercars that reach double-digit production numbers.

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Saurabh Shukla

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