Highlights from the 2014 Rétromobile auctions

There have never been so many auctions taking place during Rétromobile week. Classic Driver is on the ground to report on the highest-price classics from the RM, Bonhams and Artcurial sales…

Artcurial at Rétromobile, 7-8 February 2014

Artcurial made the most of its home advantage by consigning enough interesting classics to necessitate a two-day auction. The first saw no fewer than 15 motorcycles and 133 cars cross the block; initially, the top three sales were all pre-War cars, but those with previous celebrity ownership were also in particular demand. Brigitte Bardot's Rolls-Royce fetched €286,100, while Ringo Starr's Chevrolet and the Philippe Starck-designed Fiat Shellette sold for €48,900 and €41,700, respectively. Interestingly, the anticipated star of the show – the Oblin-bodied Ferrari 166 MM – was not crowned top-seller until after the sale, with the involved parties agreeing a price of €2.55m later on in the weekend. Saturday evening saw the headlining TZ Coupé of the 'Solo Alfa' single-marque auction perform well, fetching €955,400.  

The five highest prices paid:

1.  1953 Ferrari 166 MM by Oblin - €2,550,000 (sold after auction)

2. 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sportsman coupé Gurney Nutting - €2,190,400

3. 1924 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A - €1,287,200

4. 1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Type 68 - €1,127,000

5. 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing - €964,000

Further information can be found at www.artcurial.com.

Bonhams at Grand Palais, 6 February 2014

One could not wish for a more appropriate setting for a classic car auction than the breathtaking Art Deco halls of the Grand Palais – and the lotlist at Bonhams’ sale was equally impressive. Proceedings began well with the near-€300,000 sale of Pope Francis’ Harley-Davidson and its matching leather jacket, with a charity in Rome the beneficiary. On the four-wheeled front, the sale’s spectrum boasted entry-level French classics such as a Renault 4 and a Citroën 2CV, right the way up to multi-million-euro marvels fit for Pebble Beach.

Nestled in between was the 1962 Facel Vega II Coupé, ‘lost’ for more than 40 years and literally depositing rust on the Grand Palais floor. Nevertheless, it surpassed its estimate on its way towards a winning bid of around €155,000, just a few miles from its birthplace.

Another estimate-smashing surprise was the 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT which, at almost €1.2m, fetched more than double its predicted sale price. Meanwhile, the stunning Ferrari 275GTB/4 proved popular in blue, achieving a new world auction record for the model at more than €2.2m.

The five highest prices paid:

1. 1968 Ferrari 275GTB/4 Berlinetta - €2,225,000

2. 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix - €1,610,000

3. 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT - €1,200,000

4. 1947 Delage D6 3 Litres Compétition Grand Prix / Sport Biplace - €1,100,000

5. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 €776,000

Full results from Bonhams' auction can be found at bonhams.com.

RM Auctions at Place Vauban, 5 February 2014

At RM’s inaugural Paris auction, the venerable Place Vauban played host to no fewer than 53 stunning showpieces – the first of which, Benedict Radcliffe’s wire-frame ‘Koenig’ Countach, opened the sale with an impressive €93,600 winning bid. And, although the 'Lucky Seven' sold well, as expected ahead of this year’s Le Mans Classic, there were some more surprising results…

…such as lot number 16, a seen-better-days Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet, which fetched a staggering €537,600 against a pre-sale estimate of €80,000 – 100,000. So, the trend of big figures for ‘barn-find condition’ cars is set to continue into 2014 by the look of it. 

The five highest prices paid:

1.       1955 Jaguar D-type - €3,696,000

2.       1982 Porsche 956 Group C Sports-Prototype - €2,352,000

3.       1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider - €1,960,000

4.       1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS - €1,288,000

5.       1936 Delahaye 135 S - €1,008,000

Full results can be found at www.rmauctions.com.

All results include buyer's premium unless otherwise stated.