Skip to content

An Eiffel of lots as auction fever sweeps Rétromobile 2024

WORDS: NATHAN CHADWICK | PHOTOS: ARTCURIAL, BONHAMS, OSENAT, RM SOTHEBY’S

Although InterClassics Maastricht and Autosport International in Birmingham have fired the starting gun on the indoor-show season, Rétromobile in Paris is where the auction houses begin their European season in a big way.

Artcurial returns as the official auction partner of the event, and its mammoth collection is usually a reason to exhibit all in itself. This year there are 131 temptations to choose from, although perhaps without a headline car or collection to match previous years. Bonhams’ 221-strong lot list encompasses everything from pre-war to modern supercars, while RM Sotheby’s has more focus on 1960s-onwards cars, particularly modern supercars, among its 78 lots.

The major theme between these three auctions is the number of post-2000 hypercars. The tech/crypto market that has fuelled interest in these automobiles in previous years is entering a particularly interesting few months; the US approved the ETF Bitcoin products on January 10, resulting a large uptick in Bitcoin prices – but then they crashed. However, the general momentum is positive, and the key factor is likely to be liquidity in the long run – another milestone comes in April, with the ‘halving’. In simple terms, the number of new Bitcoins created per day will be cut by 50 per cent. Experts believe this might have an impact on price, as seen in previous cycles. That’s April, however, and the Rétromobile sales are much sooner – perhaps just a little too early for a possible bull tech market?

The fourth auction contender is Osenat, which brings 18 lots of French-flavoured special-bodied classics from the likes of Delahaye and Talbot-Lago, alongside Automobilia. We’ve rounded up the three most fascinating lots from each of the four auctions. What are you feeling tempted by?

Artcurial

This 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB, chassis 1101 GT, has the highest estimate of all four auctions. It was originally supplied new to John Von Neumann, the Ferrari dealer in Hollywood, California, in red over black leather. Its first owner, Hal Haub, kept the car until 1977, when it passed to Herb Gordon. Its last American owner was David Livingston in 1990, and it was imported to Germany by Axel Urban, before being sold to Volker Graul, the first of several owners in that country. In 2014 it was sold to a British collector, who had the car restored at Joe Macari, where it was repainted in blue with a beige leather interior. Following the restoration, it’s believed the car was acquired by a British motor sport luminary, who then sold it to the current owner. It’s estimated at between €8.5m and €11.5m.

Other 1950s/’60s Ferrari highlights from Artcurial’s sale include an originally Swedish-delivered 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta (chassis 5497 GT) estimated at between €1.6m and €2m; a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Pininfarina Series 2, originally delivered to the US and owned by several well known members of the Ferrari Club of America (chassis 3783), estimated at between €1.6m and €1.8m; and a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Berlinetta, originally sold to France and used in rallying in period, estimated at between €2.2m and €2.7m.

This 2021 Lamborghini Sián is one of just 63 built, and was originally delivered to Germany. It features a customised exterior finish in white and black from Lamborghini’s Ad Personam programme and a Nero Cosmus interior, and has covered just 185km. It’s estimated at between €2.5m and €3m.

Other modern hypercar highlights from the sale include a 2020 McLaren Speedtail (estimated at between €2.5m and €2.8m), a 2018 McLaren Senna (estimated at between €950k and €1.15m) and a 2014 McLaren P1 (estimated at €1.2m and €1.5m).

This 1975 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT12 (chassis AR115 12 *0011*) was used by the Willi Kauhsen Racing Team in several test sessions at Balocco, Le Castellet (Paul Ricard), Zeltweg, the Nürburgring and Hockenheim. It also raced at several events in the Interseries Championship, with Jochen Mass winning at Hockenheim in it. Derek Bell also took the car to victory at Kassel-Calden. It was used three more times in the 1975 season, before being returned to Autodelta at the end of the season. It was then sold to a Swedish collector, who in turn sold it to a Japanese collector in the early 1990s. The car was then restored by the Ambrosiana Motor car workshop in Milan under the supervision (according to Toine Hezemans) of Carlo Chiti and a former Autodelta mechanic. It was then bought by a Belgian racing driver in 2013, who sold it to the current owner in 2015. It was restored again by Mecauto in Belgium. It’s estimated at between €1.2m and €1.6m.

Other highlights in the Artcurial sale include a Gangloff-bodied 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio (estimated at between €600k and €800k), a 1980 BMW M1 Procar that was raced in IMSA between 1983 and 1986 by Walker-Brown Racing and Dallas Motorsport (estimated at between €1m and €1.2m) and a 1967 Lamborghini 400GT Spyder converted by Jerry Fandytis in the 1990s (estimated at between €250k and €500k and offered at no reserve).

Bonhams

This 2004 Ferrari Enzo (chassis ZFFCZ56B000136072) leads Bonhams’ sale. One of only 12 ordered new in Nero Daytona, and one of just three ordered in black with a red interior, it was originally delivered to France via Charles Pozzi. The car moved with the owner to Belgium, where it is said to have taken pride of place in his collection. It would remain as a static exhibit until the owner’s passing, and hasn’t been run since the car’s last service in 2021. With 9500km on the odometer, it’s estimated at between €3.5m and €4.5m.

Other modern hypercar highlights include a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT (estimated at €1.1m to €1.3m), one of eight 2009 Maybach 57 S Xenatec Cruisero Coupés built (estimated at €500k to €600k) and a 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta (estimated at between €350k and €450k).

This 1933 Maserati Tipo 8C-3000 Biposto (chassis 3004) was formerly of the Willem van Huystee Collection. Crankcase 3004 was uncovered in the US, alongside the first 3.0-litre 8Cs (chassis 3001 and 3002), by Richard Merrit. These cars, and the bits that went with them, were then sold to British Maserati enthusiast Cameron Miller. One was sold to the late Bob Sutherland (3001), while Miller kept the ex-Birkin car (3002). All the parts and cars are sent to Maserati expert Peter Shaw for restoration, with 3001 and 3002 taking priority. Crankcase 3004 was kept by Shaw who, with the addition of a Maserati rear axle marked 3004 from John Hewitt, set about rebuilding ‘3004’. Shaw was also able to source a slightly earlier gearbox, and was able to build a new chassis and front axle.

He was also able to find an original aero screen, original oil tank and a water-filler cap; once the project was completed, he used the car on road and in VSCC rallies for several years, competing on the Mille Miglia in 1987. In 1999 it joined the Willem van Huystee Collection and, after an extensive restoration keeping as many original parts as possible, was campaigned by Huystee at concours and road tours. The car has been in the care of another Dutch owner since 2016; it’s believed that crankcase 3004 was fitted to car 3001 by 1938, when the car began its spell in the UK, but its earlier history is unknown – Maserati’s archives do not specifically reference a car number ‘3004’. It’s estimated at between €900k and €1.2m.

Other pre-World War Two highlights include a Vanden Plas-bodied 1931 Invicta 4½-Litre S-Type Low Chassis Sports (estimated at between €900k and €1m), a 1896 Benz Velo Patent Motor-Wagen (estimated at between €170k and €250k) and a 1927 Hispano-Suiza H6B 32CV Coupé Chauffeur bodied by Eugène Girard Fils. Originally delivered to France, and in the same family ownership for the past 56 years, it’s estimated at between €150k and €220k.

This 1981 Lamborghini Countach LP400S Series II is the only known LP400S Series II finished in Blu Notte Metallizato, and it is being offered for the first time publicly in 20 years. Initially commissioned by René Leimer, it was produced during 1979 in the form of an LP400 S Series 1, chassis 1121070, but was retained by the factory and upgraded to Series 2 specification for the Geneva Motor Show, and given another chassis number – 1121272. It was sold to a Swiss owner by the name of Serge W, who had wanted the red Countach also on the show stand. Because that car had already been sold, he bought this car and had it repainted. Although registered in Switzerland, it was used by its owner in Paris for ten years, until an accident on the Parisian Périphérique led to 13 years in storage. In 2014 it was bought by the current owner and restored over several years, being returned to its original blue in 2010. It’s covered 42,600km and is estimated at between €580k and €700k.

Other notable Lamborghini highlights include a France-delivered 1994 Lamborghini LM002 (estimated at between €350k and €500k), the 1966 Earls Court Motor Show 1966 Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 Coupé (estimated at between €160,000 and €220,000, to be sold without reserve) and 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400 S (estimated at between €800k and €1.2m, and to be sold without reserve).

Osenat

This 1937 Talbot-Lago T150C Roadster was bought new by M Fayet, an industrialist in Saint-Etienne, at the 1937 Salon de l’Auto, where it is believed this car was an exhibit. The cylinder-head cover is corked, which is often seen on most salon cars of the period. Fayet decided to facelift the Talbot in the late 1940s, altering the grille and bumpers. At the time the car was red, as were all of his vehicles, but after his son lost his life while borrowing one of the fleet, all these cars were repainted black. Following the Talbot’s sale to masonry contractor and vintage car collector Bruno Dalmas in 1977, it was returned to its original hue. It’s estimated at between €600k and €900k.

Other Talbot-Lagos in the sale include a 1939 T23 Cabriolet Prototype by Chapron (estimated at between €250k and €350k) and a 1939 T23 Cabriolet Usine (estimated at between €140k and €180k).

This Delage is the fifth D8-120 built by Henri Chapron during February 1937. Constructed as part of an order for eight Cabriolets Grand Luxe four-seaters, its history can be traced back to 1946, when it bore the registration number 5983 RL. On October 23, 1947, Louis Delpech, an industrialist in Annonay in the Ardèche, bought the car. From April 1951, it was registered in Isère on 407 V 38, in the stewardship of David Mayo, a resident of Décines-Charpieu. It then moved to Paris in 1960, for Alan Nicoud and then Max Liber; the latter sold it to Louis Bayard in September 1969. It broke down not long after in Dijon, and it would remain outside under an awning for 40 years.

The car joined the collection in 2009 and was restored, winning Best of Show at the 2012 La Baule Concours d’Elegance. More recently, the car has visited Paris, Cannes, Bordeaux, Brittany, Normandy and Dubai as part of the publicity tour for the new Delage. It’s estimated at between €400k and €500k.

This 1947 Delahaye 135 Ms Roadster Vedette By Chapron is one of just five Vedette Cabriolets believed to have been built, and the only one not to be on American soil. First sold in 1948, it changed hands at an undetermined time afterwards, ending up in Alpes Maritimes. In 1953 it returned to Paris and gained the registration number it currently has. It’s estimated at between €800k and €1m.

Other Delahayes in the auction include a 1948 135 M Cabriolet by Chapron (estimated at between €100k and €130k), a 1951 235 Cabriolet By Chapron (estimated at between €130k and €170k) and a 1951 135 MS Grand Luxe Coupé by Chapron (estimated at between €200k and €250k).

RM Sotheby’s

This 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, chassis 1773 GT, is one of just 45 aluminium-bodied Competizione cars built in 1960. It was constructed to compete in the Sebring 12 Hours, the SWB model’s competition debut. It featured a more powerful Tipo 168B ‘hot rod’ engine, and was entered into the race by the Luigi Chinetti Racing Team. With George Arents and Bill Kimberly behind the wheel, it came home in seventh place and fifth overall in the Sports 3 Litre class (it wasn’t homologated at the time). The car was later sold to Bob Grossman, who competed with it during The Bahamas Speed Week. In the Tourist Trophy race he finished second behind Stirling Moss, and 11th overall in the Governer’s Trophy. In its final race of the event, it finished 11th overall and first in the GT class.

In early 1961, stewardship passed to Bob Hathaway, who raced it that year and part of the next year, with podium successes. It was borrowed by Grossman and Walt Luftman for the SCCA National races at Bridgehampton with Grossman taking overall victory in Race 6. The car returned to the Bahamas Speed Week, netting a third place, seventh place and retirement in its three outings. Hathaway then sold the car back to Grossman, who immediately sold it to Luftman. There would be a further seven owners before it joined the Van der Velds Collection. Further owners included Bruce McCaw (1999), Ervin Lyon and John Romano, before joining the Pinnacle Portfolio in 2014. It was treated to a concours restoration at Wayne Obry’s Motion Products Ltd, at a cost of $700,000. It was granted Red Book certification by Ferrari Classiche in 2023, and features matching-numbers chassis, engine and rear axle. It’s estimated at between €9m and €11m.

Other Ferrari highlights include a 2016 LaFerrari (estimated at between €3.7m and €4.8m), a 2003 Enzo (estimated at between €3m and €3.5m) and an alloy-bodied 1966 275 GTB/6C (estimated at between €2.7m and €3.2m).

This 2007 Maserati MC12 Versione Corsa is one of just 12 cars built. The most powerful Maserati ever produced, this 745bhp track-only hypercar was originally sold to a German client. Number 0008 has had an engine rebuild by former Maserati Corse mechanics in Modena, while maintenance has been performed by Formula Automobile in Denmark. The Archivio Storico Maserati has confirmed its matching-numbers engine and original Arancio livery, and it comes with a fuel rig, spare wheels and tyres. It’s estimated at between €2.8m and €3.5m.

Other modern hypercars include a 2018 Lamborghini Centenario LP770-4 Roadster (estimated at between €3m and €4m), the one-of-one 2017 Bugatti Chiron La Mer Argentée (estimated at between €2.75m and €3.5m) and a 2021 Koenigsegg Regera (estimated at between €2m and €2.6m).

This 1957 Porsche 356 Carrera 1500 GS Speedster, chassis 83492, was originally delivered to North America via Max Hoffmann. Specified in Silver Metallic over Black Leatherette, it features coupé seats and US bumper bars and a later replacement Typ 692/1 four-cam Carrera engine. Freshly fully restored, it’s estimated at €750k to €850k.

Other Porsche highlights include 2014 918 Weissach Spyder (estimated at between €1.6m and €1.8m), the ex-Brun Motorsport 1991 962C that finished tenth overall at the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours (estimated at between €1.2m and €1.5m) and a 1996 911 GT2 (estimated at between €1.2m and €1.4m).

Further details

Artcurial’s Rétromobile sale takes place at the Paris Expo – Porte de Versailles between Friday February 2 and Saturday February 3. More details here.

Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques Du Monde À Paris sale takes place at The Grand Palais Éphémère on Wednesday, January 31. More details here.

Osenat’s Chefs-D‘Œuvre De L’automobile Française sale takes place at Paris Expo – Porte de Versailles on Saturday February 3. More details here.

RM Sotheby’s Paris sale takes place at Les Salles du Carrousel on Wednesday, January 31. More details here.