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European collector auctions offer steady progress in busy summer car sales season

Words: Nathan Chadwick | Photography: Aguttes, Artcurial, Bonhams, Osenat

It’s been a busy few weeks in the European auction market, with Aguttes, Artcurial, Bonhams and Osenat all holding sales just in time for a summer’s enjoyment of new toys or generating fresh money to spend on other ones.

The British market has been somewhat chilly – but certainly for the French auctions, things don’t seem to be quite so challenging. Bonhams’ Swiss auction is another matter – we’ll come to that in a moment. Sell-through rates appeared to be good on the whole, largely helped by realistic estimates. Most cars that sold were within estimate (with fees), albeit to the lower end of their bandwidth. There seemed to be good demand, helped by this amount of sales happening in France in such a short time only occurring relatively rarely.

Contrast this to the UK, where the sheer number of auction houses putting on sales each month can boggle the mind. On one weekend, we counted at least six auctions over the same weekend, plus the usual online portals. The French market is a much smaller one, with fewer players in the game, which helped keep the sell-though rate up.

Mercedes-Benzes are what’s driving the market right now – after last year’s Porsche overload, it’s Stuttgart’s other industrial powerhouse that’s leading the auction charge, with 300 SLs finding buyers and pre-merger AMGs not looking like a short-term fad. The recent sales across Europe bear this out, with Artcurial’s 300 SL Roadster finding a home mid-estimate (more details below).

The €1 million-plus market is feeling a certain chill, although the coldest appears to be for modern hypercars – even those with low double-digit production numbers. The Lamborghinis at Bonhams’ Bonmont were the most notable casualties, but newer Ferraris both there and at Artcurial found the going tough. Indeed, Artcurial’s leading lot on pre-sale estimate, a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder estimated at €1.25m-€1.5m, failed to find a new custodian. Sadly for Bonhams, a significant proportion of the lots through its sale were post-2000 cars and, at the moment at least, it seems that the appetite isn’t quite there – there a wide variety of reasons why, but it’s telling that it is a certain era of ‘previous gen, twice removed’ cars are failing to find homes at auction. The next big things in the hypercar class are on the way, and that, along with more expensive finance packages, makes older hypercars a challenge to find a market for.

However, the market isn’t all doom and gloom – far from it – so we’ve picked out some of the interesting results from a busy month on the continent. Which cars caught your eye?


Aguttes brought a varied selection of cars to its Paris sale on June 23. The bigger-estimate lots largely fell within their estimates; the bigger fluctuations happened in the sub-€100k market.

The resurgence in interest in the Ferrari 456, at least in Europe, could be spreading to its replacement – a 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti One to One (pictured above) sold for €93,396 against a €60k-€80k estimate, despite the presence of several stonechips and being described thus: “Serviced until 2018, general overhaul of running gear and change of timing gear required” – and no service book. Other cars to outperform their estimates were 1990s roadsters, such as a unique 1993 Peugeot 306 1.8 Convertible produced by the firm’s Couleur & Matière department in Luxor Yellow. Stored in the Aventure Peugeot Citroën reserves for most of its life, it had covered 900km. It sold for €28,480 against an €18k-€24k estimate.

Other roadsters fared less well, especially further back into history, perhaps showing a demographic shift. A US-delivered 1954 Jaguar XK 120 DHC sold for just €36,720 against an estimate of €40k-€60k, while a 1967 Fiat Dino Spider 2.0 in need of some refurbishment sold for €67,768 against an €80k-€100k estimate.

The above 1982 Lamborghini Countach LP 500 S was the 25th produced, and it was delivered new in Germany in July 1982 in the white-on-white combination it still wears, with the optional rear wing. A collector from Nancy bought the car in 1988 and registered it in the Alpes-Maritimes as 9984 XA 06. He used it sparingly (at one stage covering just 106km in four years) and parted with it in 2001 to the vendor, who added 31,000km in 23 years. Estimated at between €450k and €550k, it sold for €465k.

One of the 54 Talbot-Lago T14 LSs built, this 1957 car was described as being strictly restored to its original configuration of Radiose Grey with a beige interior (although the interior was also described as original). Estimated at between €140k and €200k, it sold for €170k.

This 1983 Audi UR-Quattro WR raised an eyebrow with its final price – it was a genuine garage find, and although complete, some items had been dismantled. An estimate of €20k-€30k seemed fair, but then there was a fascinating kicker, just in time for the world’s most gruelling cycling race – it is believed to have belonged to Cyrille Guimard, a cyclist and then seven-time winner of the Tour de France as a sporting director. It sold for €40,948.


Artcurial’s 476-lot selection, hosted in a garden party setting in St Tropez on June 29, was as wide-ranging as ever from this auction house, with European market staples lining up alongside more surprising fare. The overall theme was far more German, with a selection of pre- and post-merger AMG Mercedes-Benzes catching the eye, alongside the customary chrome-era machinery. A Mercedes-Benz 1958 300 SL Roadster sold within estimate for €905,920 against an €800k-€1.1m estimate, and the truly rare pre-merger AMG cars sold for around their estimates, or just above – including the above 1997 SL70 R129. Badged as an SL70, yet fitted with a 7.2-litre version of the naturally aspirated 532bhp V12 that would go on to power the Pagani Zonda, it was first sold to Japan before moving to the Czech Republic, and then joining the collection of the vendor. Against an estimate of €150k to €220k, it sold for €226,480.

Of the 20 Ferraris on sale six failed to find homes, including 1962 250 GTE Series II and a 2010 599 GTO. A few lots fell slightly short of their low estimates, including an ex-Michael Schumacher 550 Maranello used in a promotional video taken during the car’s launch, which sold for €226,480 against a €250k-€450k estimate. However, most fell broadly in the bottom to middle of their estimates, including the 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona pictured above. Delivered new to F1 and endurance racing driver Giancarlo Gagliardi and restored by Baccheli & Villa in 2009, this Classiche-certified car sold for €625k against a €600k-€800k estimate. Another curio to sell within estimate was one of five 2010 Ferrari Californias originally equipped with a manual gearbox – the California, the very last Ferrari to be marketed with a manual gearbox. It sold for €333,760 against a €300k-€450k estimate.

Alfa Romeos were notable for struggling – the above 1965 Giulia TZ, originally sold to France and then restored in the US before coming back to Europe, sold for €667,250 against a €700k-€1m estimate, while a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider coming from 30 years of single ownership sold for just €28,608 against a €40k-70k estimate. A 2012 8C Spider and a 2022 Giulia GTAm failed to sell, although there was better news for 2008 8C Competizione, which sold for €256,280 against a €160k-€220k estimate.

Lancias also struggled to find a wider market – while the last-ever B24S Spider America sold for a mid-estimate €834,400 against €770k-970k, a 1982 037 Stradale and a 1957 B24 S Convertible failed to find homes. A 1956 Fiat 1100 TV Trasformabile, estimated at €40k-50k, topped out at €35,760 (no reserve).


Bonhams‘ Bonmont sale in Switzerland majored heavily on modern hypercars at the top end, with its eight leading cars produced after 2008. Three double-digit production-number Lamborghinis and a Ferrari 599 SA and 599 GTO failed to sell, while it was a brace of McLarens and a Ford GT (pictured above) that found new homes. The aforementioned GT sold for CHF730k (€756k) against a CHF675k-CHF875k estimate, while the 2015 McLaren P1 sold for CHF966k (€994k) against a CHF700k-CHF1.2m (€721k-€1.235m) estimate, and a 2021 McLaren Elva sold for CHF920k (€947k) against a CHF700k-CHF1.2m (€721k-€1.235m) estimate.

Overall, it was a challenging sale for Bonhams, with several cars unable to reach their low estimates, and several – across all genres – failing to find a new home. The above 1928 Bugatti Type 43, chassis 43264, was owned by racing driver Leon Duray, real name George Stewart, after coming to a trade in agreement with Ettore Bugatti for a pair of Miller Type 91s. This car, and three other Bugattis, would return to the US and form part of a dealership arrangement. It would stay in the US until 2008. It sold for CHF454,250 (€467,762) against a CHF500k-CHF800k (€514,873-€823,797) estimate.

The chilly breeze in the Enzo-era Ferrari market at the highest levels over the past few months caused several sellers to bide their time – only two chrome-era Maranello machines lined up for sale, with just one selling. The above 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE was the 29th built and the only one finished in Blu Ascot. Originally sold to France, it had lived in Switzerland since 1981, and it was treated to a full restoration there between 2017 and 2018. It had covered just 947km since the restoration’s completion, and was Classiche certified, yet against a CHF400k-CHF600k (€411,885-€617,828) estimate it only made it to CHF460k. The other car, the 29th Plexiglass 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona‘, had been subject to a 1500-hour restoration – yet it failed to sell against a CHF600k-CHF800k (€617,828-€823,797) estimate.


Osenat’s Fontainebleu sale on July 1 didn’t have as many big-hitters as Artcurial, Bonhams or Aguttes, with most cars in the sub-€100k category. However, there were certainly some fascinating results, and individual models caught the eye. As with Aguttes and Artcurial, the estimates would prove largely accurate, with most sales towards the lower end of their bandwidth.

The highest-value lot by pre-sale estimate proved to be the biggest result – the above 1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II Drophead Coupe by HJ Mulliner is one of 74 built in left-hand drive, and it was originally delivered to Sammy Davis Jr in shell grey with blue leather. Davis Jr would use the car in the UK until the end of 1961, and then ship it to the US. He used the Rolls-Royce until 1964, replacing it with a Silver Cloud III DHC. This car’s life is a mystery until 2008, when it was acquired by the vendor in non-running form, and wearing the current colour scheme. Over the past decade and more, the car had been fully refurbished, with many parts overhauled or replaced. Against an estimate of €300k-€350k, it sold for €384k.

The tale of two Ferraris – and a sign of a sea change of interest? The above 1964 Ferrari 330 GT, serial number 6163 GT, had been in the same family ownership from 1971 in Levallois. It retained its original colour scheme and according to the auction house: “[It had] been stored on a dock for many years before being put back on the road. She needs to be put back on the road, with engine sealing to be carried out.” It had an engine rebuild 30,000km (it was sitting on 120,669km), and had further suspension and steering work in the 1970s and was described as being in near-original condition after fresh paint 20 years ago. Estimated at €200k-€250k, it sold for €240k.

But the more surprising Ferrari result came from an example that was much newer, and much more yellow. A manual 1995 F355 GTS originally delivered to France, it had been serviced well via dealers and specialists, and with 74,000km on the clock, its estimate of €95k-€115k seemed accurate. It burst through that to €122,400. With the previously avoided 456 garnering interest in Europe, could F355 prices sweep up again?

The biggest restoration story had to be the above 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray Split Window. It didn’t have an MoT, and was described as a restoration project waiting to be finished. After being imported into France in 2019, the running gear and gearbox were rebuilt, while the original engine was dismantled and, “given the scale of the job”, a new 5.7-litre V8 was ordered. Neither the new motor or the old one was reinstalled, and both were sold with the car. Against an estimate of €50k-€60k, the Corvette sold for €79,800.

Further details

For more details on the Aguttes sale, visit here.

For more details on the Artcurial sale, visit here.

For more details on the Bonhams sale, visit here.

For more details on the Osenat sale, visit here.

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