Artcurial Rétromobile Auction 2018 boasts with 13 world records

The motoring department of French auction house Artcurial held its key 2018 Paris sale at the Paris Expo exhibition center at Porte de Versailles on Friday 9th February. This, plus the two smaller sales held on the following two days, marked the start of its 2018 campaign, and together they generated a total turnover of EUR 32 million, including the quite high buyer’s premium of 16% + TVA (French VAT) on transactions of up to EUR 900,000 and 12% + TVA on any amount paid in excess of this threshold.

There were 131 lots in the first day’s catalog, most (128) of which were cars. Of these, however, only 125 appeared on stage, since three — a 1964 Ferrari 250/275 P, a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato and a 1968 Alfa Romeo Spider 1.3 — were withdrawn before the sale got under way. Forty-eight of the cars included in this main auction were offered without reserve, and with 32 cars failing to find buyers, the event recorded a sale rate of just over 74%. A total of five cars sold for amounts in excess of EUR 1 million, three of them fetching more than 2 million. The car with the lowest pre-sale estimate (EUR 10–15 K), a 1960 Citroën ID 19, not driven in a decade and therefore in need of a good mechanical “refresh”, never restored and with only two owners and 38,000 kilometers covered from new, sold for EUR 11.9 K. It thus fetched a price in line with its estimated value after being offered without reserve.

This was an interesting auction, not least because it needed to recover from the last-minute withdrawal of the 1964 Le Mans-winning Ferrari that had been expected to be its top lot. Despite this setback, and the failure to sell the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder Pinin Farina that took the place of the withdrawn Ferrari as the lot with the highest estimated value (EUR 7–9 million), it was a successful sale, whose overall results, which included 13 new world record prices, were the best of all the recent Paris auctions, probably because of the numerous models being offered for the first time at auction.

This being the last of our three auction reports from Paris, it is appropriate to include a few general reflections on the state of the market, which remains solid, still allowing good, and for some models even strong results. In general, however, its value has decreased by a few percentage points compared with the highest levels recorded a couple of years ago. Pre-war cars, in particular, achieved good results. The market for these cars, being less susceptible to growth trends and speculation of the kind seen in recent years, tends to remain more linear — value changes, both positive and negative, occur more gradually —, and therefore more stable and secure.

All the prices reported in this review include the buyer’s premium on the hammer price.


The six cars we previewed

Three of the six cars we featured in our preview of the Artcurial Paris sale were sold, one of them making it into the list of the ten most expensive lots. Another was withdrawn before the sale. The 1964 Porsche 904 GTS, offered without reserve after 23 years with its last owner and expected to fetch EUR 1.4–1.8 million, exceeded its upper estimate, selling for EUR 1,873,600 and taking fourth spot in the Top Ten. This car, boasting a chassis with a long and known racing history — it has never been involved in a crash — is now well restored and prepared for classic competitions.

The 1970 BMW Alpina B6 2.8 CSI, which has only ever had one owner, sold for EUR 116,000. Therefore, this very rare car, perfectly preserved and maintained, perfectly respected its pre-sale estimate of EUR 100–150 K. The 1960 Volvo PV 544, an ex-works car entered in the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally, sold well, fetching EUR 47,680, close to the higher end of its pre-sale estimate (EUR 35–50 K).

As mentioned above, the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Spider Pinin Farina and the 1942/1946 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Cabriolet Speciale Pinin Farina both failed to sell, while the 1964 Ferrari 250/275 P was a “no show”.


The Top Ten at the Artcurial 2018 Paris

Photo copyright Julien Mahiels. 

  1. EUR 2,903,200. 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Coupé Atalante (chassis # 57624). This matching numbers car, still with its original alloy body and sporting a supercharger fitted by the “usine” in 1952, set a new world record price for the model, despite failing to reach its pre-sale estimate of EUR 3–3.5 million.
  2. EUR 2,674,400. 2006 Ferrari FXX (chassis # ZAR092000000034118), a “track day” Ferrari, in this case never used. This completely original car, with only 97 kilometers on the clock, still has its transportation crates, which were included in the lot. The youngest car in the sale, it sold for a price that just fell within its estimated range of EUR 2.6–3.2 million.
  3. EUR 2,445,600. 1954 Maserati A6 GCS/53 Spyder by Fiandri & Malagoli (chassis # 2087), raced in 1955 Mille Miglia by Attilio Buffa. This Maserati-certified car failed to reach its estimated range of EUR 2.8–3.6 million, but nevertheless set a new world record price for the model.
  4. EUR 1,873,600. 1964 Porsche 904 GTS, covered in our preview. It was offered, without reserve, with an estimate of EUR 1.4–1.8 million.
  5. EUR 1,158,270. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (chassis # 198.040. 5500696). Originally sold in the USA, for almost the past two decades this car has been in Europe, where it was fully restored by Kienle and equipped (a later addition) with Rudge wheels. A matching numbers car, it exceeded its estimated value of EUR 0.8–1 million.
  6. EUR 953,600. 1990 Ferrari F40 (chassis # ZFFGJ34B000084481). This Ferrari Classiche-certified car, which has done 29,000 kilometers from new, underwent a major service in 2016, including replacement of the fuel tanks. The price paid for it came close to the upper end of its estimated range of EUR 0.75–1 million.
  7. EUR 894,000. 1951 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1300 (chassis # 11101). This car, one of the first built and now perfectly restored, was delivered new to a US soldier based in Germany, and imported into the USA on his return home. The car set a new world record price for the model, amazingly fetching more than double its lower estimate: it had been valued at EUR 440–520 K.
  8. EUR 643,680. 1937 Hispano-Suiza J12 Gurney Nutting (chassis # 13510). This wonderful car was originally built for the Maharajah Yeshwant Rao Holkar of Indore. Perfectly restored and still sporting its original engine, it set a new world record price, within its estimated range of EUR 600–900 K.
  9. EUR 631,760. 1937 Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet (chassis # 853493). Offered with a perfectly documented history, and in exceptionally original condition, this car was originally sold in Norway. Requisitioned during the war, it was used by King Olaf of Norway for the liberation parade in 1945. With few owners and less than 20,000 kilometers from new, it made a great purchase, as it is one of the very few untouched examples of an important pre-war model car. With careful preparation, it could potentially take the preservation class at Pebble Beach by storm. It sold for a price comfortably within its estimated range of EUR 600–700 K.
  10. EUR 577,160. 1997 RUF CTR-2 (chassis # W09BD036XVPR06009). This matching numbers, factory-maintained car is a perfect example of RUF work done on a Porsche 911, and one of the most exclusive 911 derivatives. It sold for a new world record price for the model, which was absolutely in line with its pre-sale estimate of EUR 480–620 K.

Some of the other results at the Artcurial Rétromobile auction 2018

With 13 new world records set at the Artcurial auction, it might seem easiest just to list them. But the fact is that, without detriment to the excellent average value recorded by the sale, in most cases these record prices can be attributed to the fact that these were models that were making their first (or almost first) appearance at auction. The oldest car in the sale, a 1912 Panhard & Levassor X14 20 CV Torpédo Vanvooren (chassis # X14 27065), sporting Carrosserie Vanvooren body n° 675, was a particular highlight. This car, never restored and offered in wonderful preserved condition, is one of the oldest Vanvooren-bodied cars known still to be in existence. It was offered with an estimate of EUR 180–260 K and sold well above this range, fetching the record-breaking price of EUR 298 K.

The 1965 De Tomaso Vallelunga Competizione (chassis # VLD1611), one of the very few RHD versions and still fitted with its original, twin-cam engine, was another of the 13 record-breakers, selling for EUR 292,040 after an estimate of EUR 200–280 K. We are keen to point out that seven of the 13 records were set by pre-war cars.

All photos, except the one copyright by Julien Mahiels, courtesy of Artcurial. Header photo copyright Kevin van Campenhout.

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