The cluster of elite car auctions associated with Rétromobile grew in strength yet again this year with official auction house Artcurial and the world's largest collectible car auctioneer RM-Sotheby's both achieving their highest totals ever in Paris. Bonhams' annual total dropped slightly from previous years, but the overall result was an all-time high auction total besting US$90 million in sales.
Perhaps the most telling statistic to emerge from the sales was from Artcurial, which noted that its $47.9 million revenues came from buyers in 20 different countries, with those buyers constituting 84 percent of the sale total.
Automobile auctions appear to have made the digital transition far better than most industries, and although the marketplace may no longer be the rampant bull market we saw a few short years ago, with youngtimer classics now very much in vogue thanks to changing demographics, the collectible car industry looks in better shape than ever.
Here's a selection of the more interesting lots that sold in Paris.
$3,123 | €2,750 | 1994 Ayrton Senna bicycle by Carraro Cicli
Estimate: €800 to €1,200
A limited edition range of Ayrton Senna bicycles was announced in April, 1994, just weeks before Senna's final tragic race at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on May 1, 1994. This is one of those limited editions, being a 24-speed gents mountain bicycle with Columbus Genius 20-inch frame finished in Brazilian national colors.
$15,672 | €13,800 | 2018 Bugatti Type 35 Child's Car
$45,078 | €39,795 | 1961 Renault 4CV R1062 Beach car
Though the Fiat Jolly is the established star in this genre of beach cars, with a record price of $170,500, that's a lot of money for a car with a 500cc or 600cc twin-cylinder motor and not a lot of space. There were far fewer of these cars produced using a Renault 4CV base car, there's more room, more power (750cc four cylinder engine) and a considerably more reasonable price tag. It will never have the cachet of a Fiat Jolly, which had a string of celebrity owners such as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mae West, Aristotle Onassis, Yul Brynner, John Wayne, Grace Kelly, Henry Ford II, Gianni Agnelli, ad infinitum, but it is rarer and better so ... it's surprising that the price wasn't more than this given the estimate of €45,000 to €65,000.
$71,688 | €63,000 | 2005 Michael Schumacher Ferrari Helmet
This was the most expensive of 13 different helmets worn by Michael Schumacher that went to auction during the Retromobile round of auctions. A more comprehensive article on the helmets and race suits that sold in Paris can be found here.
$88,330 | €77,625 | 1985 Audi Quattro
The Audi Quattro put four-wheel-drive road cars at the forefront of the public consciousness with two successive world rally championships and a brand that has endured for nearly four decades. Estimated at €40,000 to €50,000, this Quattro is an indication that the heritage and rarity of original unmolested models of the iconic car are beginning to be appreciated by the collector car world.
$110,372 | €97,500 | 1984 Toleman F1 Ayrton Senna F1 Race Suit
Ayrton Senna memorabilia is becoming increasingly expensive at auction, and this was perfectly illustrated in Paris when this suit became the most expensive F1 race suit sold at auction, eclipsing the 1991 Ayrton Senna F1 Race Suit that sold for $76,480 (€55,575) at Monaco in 2014. A more comprehensive article on the helmets and race suits that sold in Paris can be found here.
$135,024 | €119,200 | 1944 Volkswagen 166 "Schwimmwagen"
Given that the record price for a Volkswagen Schwimmwagen is $230,724 (€149,500) set by Bonhams in Monaco in 2008, this amphibious vehicle might have sold for a whole lot more. It is a very close relation to the Volkswagen Beetle, because it is derived from Porsche's Type 60, and hence has a common ancestor with the Beetle and the WW2 German Army's Kübelwagen. Schwimmwagens are rare because so very few survived the war, with other recent auction results including $138,712 (KR840,000) by RM-Sothebys in Denmark, and $141,743 (€110,000) by Pierre Bergé & Associés in Brussels in 2013.
$157,031 | €138,000 | 1992 Porsche 928 GTS
The specifications of the Porsche 928 were distinctly non-Porsche, with a front-engined V8, and it has taken some time for the marketplace to warm to the car, but the final specification low production 928 GTS leads the charge in recent times. Very good examples of the 345-hp swan song model with low mileage are now going regularly for over $100,000 and this is the highest price yet fetched. There will be more.
$184,340 | €162,000 | 1990 Ayrton Senna McLaren Rheos Helmet
$197,136 | €174,032 | 1908 Mercedes-Simplex 35 / 45HP Recreation
This replica nearly doubled its low estimate (€90,000 to €120,000) for very good reason.
At least four cars are regularly claimed to be the world's first sportscar. In 2016, we considered the validity of those claims, added another four contenders, and chose a new winner – this car. Follow that link for the long story on the history of what was essentially the first modern motorcar. Its reliability, speed, lower center of gravity and better protection for the occupants made it a favorite among royalty and the aristocracy ... and racers who used it to win races at all levels.
This isn't an original, but an exact, atom-perfect replica created at enormous expense by the legendary Pursang company of Argentina.
At this price, it represents a fraction of the cost of a replica from Pursang, and a substantial discount on the most recent Mercedes Simplex prices ($2,805,000 and $1,072,500). Authentic everything, made the same way as the original, and offering an authentic experience in every respect.
$162,029 | €143,040 | 1964 Volkswagen Type 24 Kombi "21 windows"
Volkswagens in general, and 21- and 23-window Deluxe Samba vans (also known as Kombi) in particular, have become auction block superstars in recent years, with two of the much sought-after Samba vans going to auction in Paris. The first of the two was a 1967 Volkswagen Type 2 Minibus Deluxe 21-Window (€65,000 to €85,000) which went to auction at Bonhams and fetched €50,600 ($57,464). This van sold in the upper range of its €100,000 to €150,000 estimate at Artcurial, to become the sixth most valuable ever sold at auction.
$235,546 | €207,000 | 1994 BMW Alpina B12 5.7
From the Youngtimer Collection, this nineties supercar is based on the BMW 850 CSi, and with BMW deciding against producing an M8 version, this is arguably the sportiest 850 you can buy. A production of just 57 vehicles means it is rare, good and appreciating quickly.
$235,080 | €207,000 | 1994 Toyota Celica ST185 Turbo Group A Rally Car
An important car in historical context because the ST185 delivered Toyota its first ever WRC Manufacturer's Championship (1993 and 1994). This car is the ex-Toyota Team Europe Toyota Celica ST185 Turbo 4WD Group A Rally Car driven in 1994 by Didier Auriol/Bernard Occelli. It's not just a genuine works rally car, but it won the 1994 San Remo Rally.
$241,610 | €212,750 | 1939 BMW 327/328 Sports Cabriolet
Introduced in 1938, the 327 sports-tourer featured a 55-hp version of BMW's 1,971cc pushrod six cylinder engine, though it could be ordered with a sporting 80-hp Type 328 engine. In 1939, Autocar (UK) magazine timed a 328-engined Type 327 Sports Cabriolet at 96.77 mph (156 km/h) at Brooklands, validating what enthusiasts already knew – it was a rocket ship. One of only 428 produced, this is such a car, with matching chassis and engine and recently restored.
$241,610 | €212,750 | 1934 Lagonda M45 T7 Tourer
The Lagonda M45 was based on the company's proven 3-liter model but fitted with one of Henry Meadows' powerful 4½-liter six-cylinder engines. The esteem the car was held in by those that know can be best illustrated by the people who purchased it, and a near identical car to this was purchased new by Sir Malcolm Campbell, then the world speed record holder. Campbell's car sold in 2007 for £111,500 ($230,324), which speaks volumes for this car.
$244,709 | €216,030 | 1936 Talbot-Lago T120 by Graber
The story of this car is extraordinary, and the body was created by Herman Graber for Chassis No. 90110, until it came to light that the original bodywork for that chassis was one of the fabled Figoni and Falaschi "Goutte d'Eau" art deco masterpieces, and one of only two examples with fully enclosed front fenders.
Hence, the bodywork was removed and replaced with the original configuration bodywork of the Talbot-Lago T150 C SS "Tear Drop" by Figoni and Falaschi and the car sold at RM-Sotheby's Villa Erba sale in 2017 for €3,360,000.
The bodywork that had been removed was mated with a T120 chassis and a 3.0-liter motor provided to the car that was sold in Paris on Friday night for €216,030. The 4.0 liter insignia was kept on the body in respect for what it once clothed. The car was sold at that price with receipts totaling €295,000, so the restoration was therefore subsidized and the car was free. What a bargain!
$261,718 | €230,000 | 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Coupé by Touring
Ready to take on its second life, this car is one of just 540 built, and has just finished a 3,000-hour restoration to as-new condition. Nothing was left untouched in an effort to bring the car to superb condition both inside and out, with the same level of detail lavished on the mechanical components and undercarriage as well as the paint, brightwork and interior. The entire detail of the car's 65-year-old history was sold with the car, including images of every stage of the restoration.
$300,380 | €264,500 | 1937 Alfa Romeo 6C-2300 Berlina by Stabilimenti Farina
This is a fascinating car with a storied history, beginning with its bespoke body created by Stabilimenti Farina, the family Italian automotive coachbuilder where a young Battista "Pinin" Farina learned his craft, and which also schooled such names as Pietro Frua, Felice Mario Boano, Giovanni Michelotti, Franco Martinengo and Alfredo Vignale. Most importantly, this car is highly original, having been in the collection of noted Iranian collector Fuad Majzub for many decades and purchased from his estate in 1991 by the vendor.
$319,324 | €280,625 | 2018 Mercedes-Benz G 65 AMG 'Final Edition'
For decades, the G-Wagen has been considered the very best luxury off-road vehicle, and this car is one of the G65 AMG Final Edition models built to commemorate the end of production of the first-generation, W463 G-Wagen. This example of the limited-edition (65 cars) behemoth is in as-new condition, having only accumulated delivery mileage since new. It runs a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V-12 producing 621 bhp and is capable of hauling five adults on and off road in supreme comfort. Estimate: €250,000 to €300,000
$364,566 | €321,840 | 1937 Peugeot 402 DS Darl'Mat Sport Roadster
This car is a collaboration between Émile Darl'Mat and Georges Paulin, and is unquestionably one of most elegant French sports cars of the pre-war period. The first of this model was run at Montlhéry, where it averaged 139.3 km/h (86.5 mph) for 24 hours, increasing demand to such a degree that the small company decided to produce a limited run. The cars finished seventh, eighth and tenth outright in the 1937 24 Hours of Le Mans, and fifth outright and first in class in the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans. Gorgeous, rare and fast, this car is equally at home contesting any concours d'elegance at the same time as being eligible for such motorsport celebrations as the Le Mans Classic.
$418,576 | €324,224 | 2014 Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLS GT AMG Roadster Final Edition
Already a collectible despite its tender years, this mid-engined collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and McLaren was inspired by the rampant 300 SL of 1954. It was launched at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show as a convertible, and followed up with a 591-hp GT version capable of 320 km/h (199 mph). Each engine was assembled and signed by its mechanic, and mated to a 7-speed Speedshift gearbox, with switchable ESP backed by 6-piston front brake calipers and 4-piston rear calipers.
This low-mileage (15,730 km/9,774 mi) unit was ordered without a spoiler but with the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system, hence combining comfort, sporting prowess and a relatively discrete appearance. Only 350 specimens were made of the entire series, including roadsters and cabriolets.
$418,576 | €369,520 | 1973 Alpine A 110 1800 Gp4 Factory
This is a genuine Alpine factory racing car, driven to victory by JL Thérier in the 1973 Portugal Rally and into second place in the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally. As the auction description notes, "a masterpiece among French competition cars."
$499,591 | € 441,040 | 1967 Serenissima Agena
Ferrari's famous "Palace Revolution" of November 1961 saw the founding of a new company (ATS) by the exiled Ferrari talent pool, financed by the fabulously wealthy 24-year-old Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata. This meant that Volpi became persona non grata at Ferrari and his promising racing team, which had employed Ferrari cars to that point, needed new cars.
The new brand employed the services of ATS, De Tomaso and Maserati, and this car is one of several now being sold by the now 80-year-old Count. It has always been in the ownership of the founder of the marque, and its history is well worth reading. Not many cars come with a story as good as this one.
$511,345 | €449,375 | 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 Sc Coupé
A rare and beautiful car that was hand-built in limited numbers during an era of mass production. Just 98 such cars were built and this fully-optioned matching-numbers example was the show car at the 1956 New York Motor Show.
$513,093 | €452,960 | 1968 Serenissima Ghia GT
One of three Serenissima models sold directly by Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata who had founded the marque as a 24-year-old after butting heads with Enzo Ferrari. This car was born from a friendship between de Tomaso and Volpi, and was the prototype that was shown at the 1968 Turin, Geneva and New York motor shows. As the auction description so aptly states, this car is a "future star of international Elegance Contests."
$540,098 | €476,800 | 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Convertible
A convertible version of the 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 Sc Coupé which sold for $511,345 | €449,375 in this listing. For those with a sense of history, the mechanicals from this model were the basis of the famous 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster which rarely drop below seven figures these days.
$567,058 | €500,600 | 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet by Graber
Renowned coachbuilder Herman Graber clothed nine Bugatti 57 cabriolets, and given their beauty, it isn't surprising that they all still exist, closely held.
$607,610 | €536,400 | 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC
$671,363 | €590,000 | 2006 Ferrari Superamerica
$882,586 | €775,625 | 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra
$894,609 | €787,750 | 1931 Bentley 8-Liter Sports Tourer
$914,199 | €805,000 | 1950 Porsche 356 Split-Window 'Four-Digit' Coupé
This concours condition 1950 Porsche 356 Split-Window Coupé with coachwork by Reutter, is very rare. It was delivered new in Germany, was professionally restored in 1995 and its styling and condition belies its age.
$966,127 | €852,900 | 1936 Bugatti 57 Altantic modifiée Erik Koux
There were four Bugatti Atlantics made and three survive. One of them won the Peninsula Classic Best-of-the-best award 12 months ago, and is conservatively estimated to be worth $40 million. Another is owned by Ralph Lauren and from time to time it appears at concours events. Last time out in 2013 it won the Concorso d'Elegenza Villa d'Este in 2013.
This is a replica, built from a genuine Bugatti Type 57 and it is sensational – read the auction description – in the flesh, it presents as worth far more than the price it fetched, which works out at a 98 percent discount on a real one, yet delivering exactly the same experience.
$1,026,602 | €902,187 | 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
$1,061,806 | €933,125 | 2011 Ferrari 599 SA Aperta
$1,080,196 | €953,600 | 1971 Porsche 916 prototype "Brutus"
This is the prototype car used by Porsche to evaluate developing a mid-engined two-seater that would eventually become the Porsche 914 series, and at its heart you'll find a 2.9-liter RSR factory race motor. Corina Piech drove this as her personal car for six years. Estimate: €800,000 to €1,200,000
$1,107,156 | €977,400 | 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Corsica
$1,107,156 | €977,400 | 1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso
$1,253,827 | €1,101,875 | 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder
$1,305,998 | €1,150,000 | 1928 Bentley 6½-Liter
Four Light Weymann Fabric Sports Saloon
$1,362,639 | €1,197,500 | 2017 Ferrari F12tdf
$1,371,298 | €1,207,500 | 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
$1,795,748 | €1,581,250 | 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540 K
$1,934,436 | €1,700,000 | 1996 Ferrari F50
$2,309,944 | €2,030,000 | 1994 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport
One of just 30 examples built with just 916 km (569 mi) from new, this EB110 was the subject of a sustained bidding contest between three prospective buyers on the phone and one in the room, eventually nearly doubling the previous record for the SS model held by RM Sotheby's (€1,152,500).
$2,588,730 | €2,275,000 2018 Bugatti Chiron
$2,964,648 | €2,617,200 | 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss Edition
Auction Description: Artcurial
The price fetched by this 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss Edition is a world record for an SLR.
$3,254,404 | €2,860,000 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Alloy Berlinetta
$3,462,071 | €3,042,500 | 1956 Porsche 550 RS Spyder
Porsche's 550 Spyder was the marque's first dedicated competition car, and is the car upon which the marque's racing prowess was underpinned. It combines a perfectly balanced 550-kg (1,213-lb) car with an aluminum 1,498 cc quad cam boxer engine and it terrorized the much heavier and faster sports cars of the period to earn a "giant killer" reputation.
Just 90 were made, and they have fetched prices around the $5 million mark at auction in recent times. Two 550s were available in Paris this year, with this car selling below its estimate and another failing to make its reserve price.
$4,778,870 | €4,218,800 | 1966 Serenissima Spyder
The '66 Serenissima Spyder was one of three Serenissima cars consigned to Artcurial's official Retromobile sale by Count Volpi di Misurata, who in 1965 established the brand and its racing team. Only two Spyders were produced and only one of them survives – this one. It also is the only Serenissima to have raced at Le Mans, driven in the 24-hour competition in 1966 by Jean-Claude Sauer and Jean de Mortemart.
Estimated at €1,300,000 to €1,800,000, it performed well beyond expectations.
$5,510,297 | €4,842,500 | 1987 Ferrari F40 LM
This is the Le Mans competition variant of the car Ferrari built to celebrate its 40th anniversary – the twin-turbocharged 471-bhp, 201-mph (323-km/h) F40. It is one of just 19 constructed to either F40 LM or F40 Competizione specifications and competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995 and 1996, with a best finish of 12th overall in 1995. It also won the 1995 Anderstorp 4 Hour Race, and competed extensively in the 1995 and 1996 BPR Global GT series.
$18,968,675 | €16,745,600 | 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta by Touring
In selling for $19 million to an American collector, this 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta became the third most expensive pre-war car ever to sell at auction, behind a 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring that sold for $19,800,000 and Gary Cooper's Duesenberg SSJ that sold for $22 million.
Having been in single family ownership for 43 years, this beautiful automobile has appreciated considerably in value since it was acquired for €10,000 in 1976.
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