Bonhams: The Grand Palais Sale, Paris 5 February 2011 - Preview

Ex-John Lennon 1965 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 Coupé 120,000 - 170,000 euros

What do The Beatles, the Belgian Royal Family and the Crimean War have in common? Answer: cars once belonging to John Lennon, King Baudouin and Fitzroy John Somerset, the 5th Baron Raglan, are included in an impressive first auction for Bonhams at the Grand Palais, Paris.

The sale will be held on the Saturday of Rétromobile week, at a venue some distance away from the exhibition but in far more prestigious surroundings, just off the Champs-Elysées. The magnificent stone, steel and glass building was constructed for the Universal Exposition of 1900 and has only just (2007) been re-opened after extensive restoration work.

The catalogue matches the majestic surroundings featuring, as it does, some truly world-class entries.

One of the headlining cars is the 1933 Bugatti Grand Prix Type 51 (600,000 - 800,000 euros) from the estate of one of the UK’s most ardent Bugatti aficionados, Lord Raglan (whose 19th Century ancestor unwittingly issued less-than-clear orders that triggered the 1854 Charge of the Light Brigade).

The sporting Bugatti is joined by three other examples of the Molsheim marque and two stunning pre-War Alfa Romeos: the ex-Luigi Scarfiotti, Scuderia Ferrari 1930 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spyder, for 950,000 - 1,250,000 euros, and the 1929 6C 1750 Spyder Supersport (750,000 - 950,000 euros), a car which has been raced in period by Raffaele Cecchini and Alfa works driver Giuseppe Campari.

1933 Bugatti Grand Prix Type 51 - 600,000 - 800,000 euros 1930 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spyder - 950,000 - 1,250,000 euros

Alfas and Bugattis apart, other pre-War cars of note include the magnificent 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet C (450,000 - 600,000 euros), the 1936 MG Midget TA 'Airline' Coupé (175,000 - 225,000 euros) and the 1933 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom II Continental Sports Saloon (300,000 - 350,000 euros), with its charming illuminated glass dragonfly mascot by Sabino replacing the all-too-familiar flying lady.

1971 Alpine Renault A110 1600S Group IV - 95,000 - 125,000 euros Prepared by Ruf, 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7-Litre Touring - 235,000 - 275,000 euros

Several competition cars are included in the beautifully presented catalogue (from last December’s Weybridge sale onwards, Bonhams has really upped its game in this respect). The 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ Prototipo Berlinetta (80,000 - 100,000 euros) looks aggressive, while the 1966 Porsche Type 906 Carrera (600,000 - 700,000 euros) is a typical Zuffenhausen production: functional finish, paper-light panels and space-age styling.

On the 1950s – 1970s road car front, the sale includes many Ferraris, Aston Martins and Maseratis to appeal to the Classic Driver reader.

The Beatles connection comes via Lot 363, the 1965 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 bought new that year by a fresh-faced John Lennon. 120,000 - 170,000 euros is strong money for these under-appreciated V12 coupés, but with the Lennon connection... who knows.

Among the other Maranello cars, there’s a 1966 330 GTC for 110,000 - 140,000 euros and a 1960 250GT Series II Cabriolet, at 325,000 - 425,000, not far off a California Spyder in performance and looks, yet 25% of the price.

Ex-King Baudouin 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 - 200,000 - 240,000 euros.

King Baudouin of Belgium took delivery of his 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 in February of that year. The car you see here has been restored to that original specification (Imperial Red with beige hide) and is estimated at 200,000 - 240,000 euros.

Finally, a Paris sale just wouldn’t be right without some quintessentially French entries, and I leave you with the 1965 Citroen DS21 Concorde Coupé by Henri Chapron (80,000 - 110,000 euros) and, inevitably, a Décapotable Citroën, the fully restored, blue with tan 1964 example estimated at 120,000 - 140,000 euros. Magnifique.

Prior to the motor cars, Bonhams will sell an extensive selection of automobilia, including posters, headlamps, mascots and bicycles. A separate motorcycle section of 27 machines numbers exotics such as the 1936 Brough Superior carrying a pre-sale estimate of 38,000 - 45,000 euros.

The Bonhams Grand Palais Sale starts at 12.00 (automobilia), with motorcycles at 15.00 and motor cars at 16.00. The Grand Palais is located on the Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris (nearest Metro ‘Franklin D. Roosevelt’).

Please click HERE to see a full lotlist.

For further information, visit

Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Bonhams

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