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€4.8m Ferrari F40 LM leads a solid charge for RM Sotheby’s in Paris

On Wednesday night, RM Sotheby’s returned to Paris to kick off its European auction season, presenting a diverse collection of cars that blended traditional blue-chip classics with rare and pristine ‘youngtimers’ and a very special Ferrari F40. Here are the answers to the questions on your mind...

Could you sum up the auction in a couple of sentences? 

RM’s European season-opener at the temporary (albeit no less impressive) Place de Vauban saleroom was as full to bursting as is the norm, replicating the same buoyant atmosphere at the Rétromobile fair itself – perhaps people are just glad the winter break is finally over. Regular auctioneer Maarten ten Holder and bilingual car specialist Paul Darvill did a sterling job on the rostrum, finding new homes for 59 of the 84 cars offered over the course of four-and-a-half hours. That’s a solid 70-percent sell-through rate on the night, with just over 40 percent of cars sold matching or surpassing their lower estimates. 

Which cars were the top sellers? 

No one can deny that the famous Pilot-liveried Ferrari F40 LM was RM’s star of the show. The veteran of two 24 Hours of Le Mans races, the bewinged blue beauty hammered away a touch below estimate at 4.3m euros, or 4.84m euros inclusive of buyer’s premium. 

However, for us, the 1.8m hammer price (2.03m euros all in) achieved by the ultra-low-mileage Bugatti EB110 Super Sport was the biggest talking point of the evening. This year marks both the 110th anniversary of Bugatti and the 30th anniversary of the Campogalliano-built EB110, so you could say the timing was appropriate. But that it matched its top estimate when neither the two Veyrons nor the Chiron offered even met their reserve prices is telling of the model’s rapid ascension in the market. Is it a matter of time before the EB110 becomes the most valuable of Bugatti’s modern-era ‘holy trinity’?

What were the biggest surprises? 

Aside from the 45,000-euro Citroën H Van? Two cars from RM’s Goliath collection of ‘youngtimers’, the majority of which is due to be sold at the Amelia Island and Essen sales, exceeded all expectations. Those were the 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC AMG 6.0 ‘Wide-Body’ and the 1992 Porsche 928 GTS. Both immaculate low-mileage examples, the former achieved 260,000 euros on the hammer (297,500 euros with premium), while the Polar Silver transaxle Porsche fetched an astonishing 138,000 euros all in. We think RM might need to rethink the seating plan for Essen – the appetite for the best of these modern classics is simply insatiable. A special note must also go to the 2017 Ferrari F12tdf fitted with the most beautiful distressed leather interior, for which someone saw fit to pay 1.197m euros.

And which notable cars failed to find new homes on the night?  

It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing for RM in Paris. Notable no-sales included the 1957 BMW 507, 1955 OSCA MT4-2AD, alloy-bodied 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C, both the Ferrari F50 and Enzo, and the aforementioned Bugatti Chiron. To be honest, we’re surprised the 2011 Ferrari SP30 did not find a buyer, despite Ten Holder’s commendable efforts to draw a high bid of 1.95m euros. In the metal, we thought the car made a lot more aesthetic sense than in the photos, and you’re certainly not going to see another one on the road…

Which bidder walked away with the biggest bargain? 

It’s hard to say as they were few and far between. Its 200,000–240,000-euro estimate might have been ambitious, but we’d say the rare 1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo S was well bought at 138,000 euros all in. 

So, what did we learn from the opening act of the Rétromobile auction trilogy? 

Well, more of the same really – that only the very best examples will command the very best prices, that you can’t really put an estimate on ultra-low-mileage, very rare, and remarkably original ‘youngtimers’, and that auction houses have really got their work cut out selling more traditional faire, which, five years ago, was all the rage. We really can’t wait to see how the rest of The Youngtimer Collection fairs in Essen – could it be Duemila Ruote 2.0 for RM Sotheby’s? 

Photos: Rémi Dargegen for RM Sotheby’s © 2019

You can find all our Rétromobile 2019 coverage compiled here