RM Sotheby’s Paris auction kicks off European sales season
Just enough time to catch an airplane from the Arizona sale, and the RM Sotheby’s team finds itself in Paris, preparing for the firm’s first European event of 2018. The RM Sotheby’s 2018 Paris sale is being held, in Place Vauban, on Wednesday February 7th, with a 6 p.m. start. Viewing for this sale will start on Tuesday, February 6th (from 12 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and will continue on the day of the sale itself (from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The buyer’s premium will be 15% + TVA (French VAT) on transactions of up to EUR 200,000 and 12.5% + TVA on any amount paid in excess of this threshold. There are 84 lots in the catalog, and all but one (a Harley-Davidson) are cars. Thirty-five of the 83 cars will be offered without reserve.
The oldest car in the sale is a 1933 Mercedes-Benz 200 Lang Cabriolet B (chassis # 124943), sporting a well-executed older restoration. The youngest is a European registered 2017 Bugatti Chiron (chassis # VF9SP3V39HM795042), one of the first 20 delivered and with less than 1000 kilometers on the clock. The RM Sotheby’s Paris auction undoubtedly has quite a “modern” slant, given that it features only four pre-war cars (all Mercedes from the same collection) and as many as 16 built in the 2000s. The car with the lowest estimated value (EUR 25–30 K), being offered without reserve, is a 1967 Autobianchi Bianchina Cabriolet Eden Roc (chassis # 1108122008574), restored and ready to be driven. The car assigned the highest pre-sale estimate (EUR 3.7–4.5 million) is a 1953 Ferrari 166 MM Spider. Overall, two cars are expected to sell for more than EUR 3 million, three to break the EUR 2 million barrier, and a further two to fetch prices in excess of EUR 1 million. As always with sales held in France, potential buyers should remember that, under French law, French vehicles more than 75 years old and costing over EUR 50 K must have an export passport in order to be taken out of France and an export license in order to leave EU territory.
1953 Ferrari 166 MM Spider
This 166 MM spider (chassis # 0272M) was built in early 1953 and sold, the same year, to its first owner, a certain Dr Alberico Cacciari, who registered it in Modena. The fifth of the 13 MMs built, it features a unique open body built by an unknown coachbuilder. Although it is certainly not the most beautiful Ferrari to look at, it is rumored to have been designed by Aurelio Lampredi (the Maranello engineer responsible for some of Ferrari’s most successful engines) and built directly in Ferrari. Such a background, were it confirmed, would more than compensate for the car’s somewhat imperfect proportions. After making its debut at the 1953 Giro di Sicilia, the Spider competed in that year’s Mille Miglia (sporting racing number 514), in which it was driven by Cacciari and R.H. Bill Mason, father of Pink Floyd drummer and classic racing car collector, Nick. It finished 53rd overall and 3rd in its class. Bill Mason directed a Shell-sponsored promotional movie about the 1953 Mille Miglia, in which the car featured prominently.
After being slightly modified, the car continued racing throughout the rest of the 1953 season before being sold, ahead of the 1954 season, to a Mr Alberto Luongo of Rome. It was then raced in the 1954 MM, under the Scuderia Ferrari name, but was mainly used by MGM studios to film parts of the movie The Racers starring Kirk Douglas. Because of its filming commitments the car did not finish the race. Shortly afterwards, it was exported to California to complete the filming of The Racers. Painted white and gold, it was subsequently sold to a Mr Pete Lovely of Tacoma (WA) and raced in North America during the 1955 and 1956 seasons. In 1961, by this time under new ownership, it was shown at Pebble Beach, the first of a number of appearances there. Several owners later, it also raced at the Laguna Seca Classics. In early 2000 the car was sold to a Mr John Megrue (of Connecticut), who used it in the historical Mille Miglia and also entered it in various concours d’élégance, including the 2017 Amelia Island show. Its bodywork is still 80% original and, with its perfectly matching numbers, it is considered one of the most original early 12-cylinder barchettas in the world. It is offered for sale with an estimated value of EUR 3.7–4.5 million.
1964 ISO Grifo A3/C
At the 1963 Turin Motor Show, Iso Rivolta showed two prototypes of the same car, both engineered by the firm’s technical consultant Giotto Bizzarrini and bodied by Bertone: the “racing” version, exhibited on the Iso Rivolta stand, later evolved into the ISO A3/C and subsequently the Bizzarrini 5300 Strada, while the “road” version, the A3/L, shown on the Bertone stand, later became the Iso Rivolta Grifo. When Iso Rivolta founders Renzo Rivolta and Giotto Bizzarrini decided to go their separate ways — Rivolta wanted to concentrate on road cars and Bizzarrini on racers —, they came to an agreement that permitted Bizzarrini to continue pursuing his racing program using Iso Rivolta parts and chassis. Thus, before Bizzarrini managed to found his own company, and start branding his cars with his own name, some cars were manufactured in this way, with the bodies built by Pietro Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Car in Modena.
These cars looked almost identical to what would later become the Bizzarrini 5300, but they were branded ISO A3/C. Some of them actually competed in races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while others, sporting the same riveted body, were sold for road use to wealthy customers. Jean-Philippe Smet, better known as Johnny Hallyday — one of the most successful French singers ever, Hallyday sold more than 100 million copies of his records and starred in 30 movies —, loved fast cars, and in 1964 he bought chassis # B0209 and registered it in Paris, first with temporary plate 7381 WW and subsequently, in late 1964/early 1965 with its definitive plate: 4958 RZ 75. In February 1966 the car was sold to its second owner, and in November of the same year changed hands again. In August 1968, it entered the ownership of Prince Pierre Sangusko, who was to keep it, stored in his castle, for the next 24 years. After Sangusko’s death in 1992, the car changed hands several times and was resprayed a couple of times in different colors. But it remains a mostly original car with less than 30,000 kilometers on the clock. It is offered for sale by its current owners, who purchased it in 2014. It is estimated to be worth EUR 2.5–3 million.
1958 BMW 507 Roadster
The 507, the most prestigious post-war car built by BMW, is today the Munich-based firm’s only model able to match the allure of the pre-war BMW 328, and it represents the company’s somewhat unsuccessful attempt to establish itself as a luxury car maker. Only 252 507s were manufactured, each one selling at a loss, despite having a higher price than their more renowned contemporary, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. This 507 (chassis #70127) was given by a loving husband, Wilhelm Bartels, as a gift to his wife Elisabeth on April 23rd, 1958. She used, enjoyed and took care of the car for the following decades, and it became part of the family. Some years after the purchase, the 507 received an upgrade, being fitted with front disk brakes by an authorized BMW machine shop.
Amazingly enough, this car has always been maintained by the same individual, from new through to the present day, and even after Elisabeth finally agreed, in 2004, to sell the car to its second, and current, owner, who had been hankering after it for years. After the purchase, the car received extra care, being given a set of Rudge wheels, a new soft top and new seat leather. This work was done respecting the original colors and pattern, and indeed the door panels remained original. Up until Elisabeth died in 2006, the current owner, very aware of her strong affection for the car, would often drive “their” 507 to her house for a visit. The car is now offered for sale with an estimated value of EUR 1.6–1.8 million.
1970 Volkswagen-Porsche 914/6 GT
For a long time, the Volkswagen-Porsche was apparently forgotten by the car community, until more recent years when people started to realize that rear-mid engine cars are a pleasure to drive. While the four-cylinder version of this model is relatively common, the /6 version (with a six-cylinder engine) is very rare, and rarer still when, like the one coming up for sale at the RM Sotheby’s sale (chassis # 9140432505), it is prepared for racing. Originally designed and built as a racing version, it was delivered on March 4th, 1971 to Friederich Graepel of Loningen (D) and subsequently sent to specialist Porsche team Autohaus Max Moritz to be prepared to compete in GT class races. Its first race that same month was the International Rallye Lyon-Charbonnieres-Stuttgart-Solitude (DNF), after which it competed in a total of 27 national and international rallies, up until June 1972.
Then, after a three-year break, its final outing in June 1975 ended with a crash. After the accident, the car, with one race victory (in the 1972 Stuttgart-Strasbourg-Stuttgart Rally) and a decent run of podium results under its belt, was left abandoned and semi-dismantled in Mr Graepel’s warehouse, remaining there until his death in 2001. It was only later that the family sold the remains of the car to Porsche specialist Mittelmotor GmbH, which completely rebuilt it to the original specifications, with the exception of an upgrade to a “Carrera 6” specification Porsche engine. The work was completed in 2017 and the car, now ready for use and accompanied by FIA documents, is offered for sale with an estimated value of EUR 220–260 K.
1958 Triumph TR3A Works Rally Car
Only four cars were prepared and entered by Standard-Triumph to compete, as works cars, in the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally. These cars, bearing almost consecutive number plates, were: VRW 220 (to be driven by Paddy Hopkirk and Jack Scott), VRW 221 (John Waddington and Mike Wood), VRW 223 (Maurice Gatsnonides and Marcel Bequart), and VRW 219 (to be driven by the ladies’ team of Annie Soisbault and Tish Ozanne). The car offered for sale is chassis # TS23870-0 (number plate VRW 221), which, being delayed, was excluded from the event before reaching Lyon. Despite this, it was allowed to complete the drive to Monte Carlo and take part in the driving test on the promenade, where it finished 3rd in the standalone event. Further, more successful, races followed, with the car taking 2nd overall at the 1958 Circuit of Ireland and 1st in its Class at the 1958 Tulip Rally, before being sold in 1959 to former driver Ron Goldbourn, the first of a long list of owners. Well restored some years and some owners ago, the car returned to the UK in 2009 and went on competing in numerous historic rallies. Impeccably presented and wearing the unusual competition hard-top in its original colors, this car, thought to be the only survivor of the ’58 Monte Carlo expedition, is offered for sale with an estimate of EUR 160–180 K.
2005 Maserati MC12
Most people consider that the McLaren F1, and its racing version, the GTR, replaced the 250 as the ultimate road car that could also win races. But in my view, they are wrong, because they completely overlook the Maserati MC12, a real supercar, with sophisticated mechanics, that has proved to be extremely successful in racing, being a several times World Championship winner, while remaining a great supercar to drive on the road. One of the only 50 specimens built, chassis # ZAMDF448000012085, one of the earliest to roll off the production line, was delivered new in Italy, to a Mr Renzo Zoppas, on January 3rd 2005. He kept it for three years, before selling it to its second Italian owner in 2008. In 2010 it was sold to a buyer in Germany, where it has remained ever since. It was bought by the consignor five years ago and has been regularly driven since then. Totally original, with a known history from new, it is offered, without reserve, with an estimate of EUR 2–2.5 million, a fraction of the current value of a McLaren. If you are looking for a car with great potential, the Maserati MC12 could be just what you are after.
For more information, please visit the website of RM Sotheby’s.
All photos courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.