Mad Mercedes 600 price steals the headlines at Paris auctions

| 10 Feb 2014

This year's Rétromobile auctions were more awaited than ever before, with not only Canadian giant RM joining the Paris fray with traditional combatant Bonhams, but also the home team from Artcurial adding a second, Alfa-only sale.

While there were the expected big numbers across a range of the star lots, there is no question about the headline stealer, the 1971 Mercedes-Benx 600 'six-door' Pullman Landaulet that made a mind-boggling €537,600 despite being a barnfind in need of restoration.

Admittedly only 26 six-door Landaulets were built, but all the more extraordinary was the fact that the pre-sale estimate looked entirely reasonable at €80-120,000.

The Merc was far from being the top-seller as RM racked up sales of nearly €18million in just three hours and an 80% sale rate.

After a few high-profile no-sales of D-types at recent auctions where around £5million was being sought, the Jaguar seems to have found its level with the Harburg Collection's nicely original example – without the race history to compare to some – selling for €3,696,000.

Some €1.3million further back was the 1982 Porsche 956 Group C Sports Prototype that came third at Le Mans, with three other cars topping the million-Euro mark, led by the 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder at €1.96m.

Also generating a lot of interest was the 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS (€1.288m) and the ex-Rod Stewart Lamborghini Miura P400 S to SV Spec that made €520k.

The following evening, Bonhams held its sale at the imposing Grand Palais and smashed the world record for Ferrari's in-vogue 275GTB/4, when a 1968 example made €2.225million.

Another big lot was the Jack Lemon Burton and Lady Mary Grosvenor 1929 Bugatti Type 35B. After a tense bidding war, a Far Eastern buyer snapped the racer up for €1.6million.

The million-Euro barrier was also breached by another French car when rapid bidding pushed a one-of-seven 1947 Delage D6 3-litre to €1.1m.

Aston Martins proved popular with the Paris audience, with a 1962 DB4 Vantage doubling estimate to make €1.2m and a 1965 DB5 topping €775k.

Bonhams had a barnfind of its own that flew – a Facel Vega II that had been in storage for 40 years made €155k against a low estimate of €80k.

For press coverage, none of the cars could rival the fever whipped up by the sale of a Harley-Davidson 2013 Dyna Super Glide and leather jacket that belonged to Pope Francis. With the proceeds going to charity, the pair topped €300k.

The weekend was dominated by the two sales from Artcurial, the 'official' Rétromobile auction and its intriguing Solo Alfa outing. The double-header propelled the French outfit to just shy of €30million and a sale rate of 85%.

During the main event a 1931 Gurney-Nutting-bodied Bentley 8 Litre Sportsman coupé was the top lot (€2,190,400), but it was bettered after the sale when a price of €2.55m was agreed for the 1953 Ferrari 166MM with Oblin bodywork.

Another major post-auction deal went through to secure a price of €1.4m for the 1950 Delahaye 135MS Cabrio by Saoutchik.

Fourth top-seller (though second best at the actual auction) was a Ramseier 1924 Isotta-Frascini 8A that made €1.287m.

Much was made pre-event about a number of cars with celebrity connections and these sold well in Paris. They included an ex-Brigitte Bardot Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud (€286k), Ringo Starr's old 1957 Chevy Bel Air (€49k) and Philippe Starck's Fiat Shellette, which made a healthy €41k.

The 1975 Citroën SM Mylord by Chapron (see C&SC February) sold for over half a million Euros, while a pair of in-demand French rally cars – a 1980 Renault 5 Turbo Groupe 4 Calberson and a 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Evolution 1 Group B monster – made €399,300 and €312,500 respectively.

The big change for Artcurial in 2014, however, was the addition of its separate Solo Alfa sale featuring more than 40 post-war cars from an Italian collection.

With the vendor's 8C not consigned for the auction, easily the highest-priced car was the 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ, which made €955,400.

Other star cars were the 1970 Alfa Romeo GTAm, driven on to the block by its 1973 pilot Carlo Facetti, that sold for €329,000 and the 1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce that sold for €178,800, some €60k above top estimate. 

Again there was a comparatively huge bid for a barnfind when a 1972 Alfa Romeo Romeo Giulia Super 1.6 Familiare in need of total restoration tripled its estimate at €15,500.