This tantalising trio of historic racers will soon be sold in Paris
On 15 March, during their annual Spring Sale at the Espace Champerret in Paris, our friends at Aguttes will, with a heavy heart, offer the Jean Brandenburg Collection, spearheaded by three very special historic racing cars: a 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca, 1963 Jaguar E-type 3.8 ‘Semi-Lightweight’ and 1968 Chevron B8.
A keen and talented amateur racing driver, Brandenburg was a familiar face at Peter Auto’s popular historic motorsport events from 2012 onwards and known for his generous manner and infectious enthusiasm. “Jean was a great man who was very well respected in the paddock,” comments Clément Papin, a specialist at Aguttes who had the fortune of knowing the Swiss collector first-hand. “Above all, he loved his cars so much and had the rare ability to drive them quickly but with great sympathy.”
While the preparation and maintenance of all Brandenburg’s racing cars was entrusted to Yvan Mahé’s Equipe Europe outfit near Paris, the spectacular 300-square-metre garage at his home near Geneva was a shrine to all things motorsport.
In addition to a wonderful selection of road-going sports cars, including a Porsche 997 Targa 4S and a silver Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale, the garage was filled with automobilia, from over 1,000 scale models to crash helmets belonging to more than 80 of his Formula 1 heroes. The helmet collection will also be sold by Aguttes on 15 March and you can find the catalogue right here on Classic Driver.
“His garage was like a museum dedicated to motorsport,” continues Papin. “And it’s important to note that he built the collection of automobilia together with his beloved wife Bao – cars were a passion they truly shared.”
A popular choice among gentleman drivers, both in the period and today, the 1968 Chevron B8 was the first historic racing car Brandenburg bought. This specific car enjoyed an action-packed period competition career, contesting over 30 races in 1968, ’69 and ’70, including two victories at Ingliston in Scotland. Comprehensively restored in the late-1980s, it wasn’t until 2012 that the dainty British sports car wound up in the possession of Brandenburg. Five seasons of Peter Auto’s Classic Endurance Championship followed, including three editions of the Le Mans Classic. “Jean always maintained that the Chevron was his favourite car to drive,” remarks Papin.
Though not originally a racing car, Brandenburg’s 1963 Jaguar E-type is arguably the most competitive of the three cars offered by Aguttes. Converted to ‘Semi-Lightweight’ specification by Equipe Europe at the end of the 2000s, this car contested a raft of events during Brandenburg’s ownership, including the Le Mans Classic and the Spa Classic. It was 2017 edition of the Tour Auto that Brandenburg no doubt looked back on most fondly, however – after an exhausting week of scorching fast and expertly judged driving, he finished second overall, behind only the Ford GT40 of James Cottingham and Andrew Smith.
The undisputed jewel in the Brandenburg Collection’s crown is the 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca. A desperately beautiful post-War sports car shaped by the inimitable Zagato, the silver bullet is one of just 30 Coda Troncas built. “Before he bought the Alfa, Jean was racing a Bizzarrini,” Papin recalls. “But he always said to me that it was too heavy and powerful and that he wanted to buy something that was lighter and easier to drive.” This little beauty more than fitted the bill.
In period, the wonderful Alfa took part in all of Europe’s most prestigious events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 1,000km of Paris, the Monza 1,000km and the Targa Florio, with moderate success. After some 20 years residing in well-known collections in Japan and America, the Giulietta was exhibited at Rétromobile in 2010. It was bought by a French enthusiast who, after returning the car to La Sarthe during the Le Mans Classic, promptly commissioned a comprehensive restoration by Alfaholics to its 1963 specification.
In late 2017, Brandenburg acquired the significant Alfa Romeo and the following year, raced it at Spa and Le Mans. In fact, the Rallye des Légendes Richard Mille in September of 2018, driving this car, was the final time he took part in an event before his untimely passing.
It’s a tragedy that Jean Brandenburg was unable to carry on living life to the fullest with his beloved friends and family. These cars formed such a significant part of his world and we sincerely hope that whoever they pass onto will treat them with the same unadulterated love, passion and respect he did. We’d like to wish Aguttes the best of luck for what will no doubt be a poignant auction.
Photos: Mathieu Bonnevie for Aguttes © 2020