The stunning selection of classics discovered in France at the end of last year, including the ex-Alain Delon Ferrari California Spider, will go under the hammer at Artcurial's Retromobilé sale on 6 February.
The Roger Baillon Collection comprises 60 classic cars, many of which have remained untouched for the past 50 years. The group was amassed by the transport magnate to fill a museum that was never built, and the majority of the would-be exhibits were thought to be lost following the collapse of his business in the 1970s.
The greatest European marques are well represented, from Delahaye and Delage through to Ferrari and Bugatti, with many examples expected to achieved huge sums when they cross the block.
The star of the sale is undoubtedly the ex-Delon California Spider, which is expected to fetch between €9.5-12m when it's sold in Paris. The car is one of just 37 examples to be finished with covered headlights and was instantly recognisable when it was discovered, despite sitting under hundreds of old newspapers.
Gerard Blain became the first owner of the Ferrari after spotting it at a motor show in 1961, registering it for the road just six days later. He kept the car for two years before selling it to Delon, who shipped it to Los Angeles after he and his wife, Nathalie, moved to California in 1964.
It wasn't until 1971 that the car found its way into the Baillon collection.
The Ferrari was much better protected than most of Baillon's collection, and is in fine condition. A pair of driving gloves was found in the glovebox, along with several tax discs that were never affixed to the windscreen. The boot contained two toy car tracks that were thought to be undelivered gifts for Baillon's grandchildren.
Second in the value stakes is a 1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Berlinetta Frua. The Italian sports car was shown at the 1956 Paris Motor Show and is one of just four examples to be built.
It was first owned by Jacques Fildier, a Parisian architect and British sports car enthusiast who also had several Aston Martins. The car has been in the same family for 55 years and is superbly preserved. Despite a relatively modest 2.5m Franc price tag when new, the Maserati is now expected to make between €800-1.2m.
Also expected to attract huge interest is a trio of Saoutchik-bodied classics that were thought to be lost. The first, a 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Cabriolet is estimated at €120-150,000. The unique, one-off coachbuilt car cost in excess of four million Francs when new – enough to buy 10 Citroen Traction Avants.
The car was first owned by Salah Orabi and Princess Nevine Abbas Halim of Egypt, and featured in many publications in period.
A 1949 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport SWB shares the same mechanicals as the '48 car, though it is – comparatively – less rare. The Talbot-Lago chassis was purchased by Saoutchik directly and was built for display purposes. It is one of six examples: the first two had lower rooflines, which proved tricky to drive. The Baillon car is one of four 'high-roof' versions, and it was shown at many concours d'elegance when it was new.
The final Saoutchik-bodied discovery is also the most valuable – it's likely to achieve between €250-350,000. No period images of the rakish T26 Record Fastback Coupé are known to survive, meaning that its discovery was a complete surprise. It has been out of the public eye for more than 60 years.
A 1937 Bugatti Type 57 could fetch as much as €160,000, despite being fairly down-at-heel. Factory records carry the word 'salon', suggesting that the Gangloff-bodied car could have been destined for display at the Paris Motor Show.
More practical buyers might be drawn to a lovely 1963 Porsche 356SC Coupé, which is completely original and has never been restored. The car is in sound condition, though the carpets need to be replaced.
Among the documents included in the sale is a receipt for 290 Francs, which was issued after the car had been impounded at Courbevoie Police Station!
The car has been valued at €20-30,000.
Also sure to pique buyers' interest is a 1960 Facel Vega Excellence, which has been in the Baillon family's possession since 1964. It initially belonged to an aristocratic family who fled to France following the Russian Revolution. The car features in later photographs showing Jacques Baillon outside the family home during his military service.
It is expected to fetch between €60-80,000.
Considerably more expensive – and every bit as impressive – is a 1925 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet by Million Guiet. In total, 2450 examples of the H6 were built, with many being purchased by royalty. Following in their footsteps will cost between €200-300,000, reflecting the rarity of unrestored examples.
Another Paris Motor Show star, this time from 1948, is a Delahaye 135M Cabriolet bodied by Faget Varnet. Of the six examples produced, just three are known to survive, with the other two currently residing in American collections. This car is the only one of its type with an a rostre radiator grille. It has been estimated at €100-150,000.
Despite the high price tags sported by some of the auction lots, there are still a number of affordable classics for sale – though many are in a poor state of repair.
A 1936 Talbot T11 Cadette Berline is expected to fetch between €2-4000. A maintenance schedule sticker dating from 1962 shows that the last service was carried out just 200km ago but, judging by the photographs, more work may be required!
A rare left-hand-drive Singer Roadster 1500 with just 58,277km on the clock is one of the cheapest cars in the sale, estimated at €200-800.