Bugatti Type 57 3.3-Litre Torpedo “Tourist Trophy” headlines Bonhams Paris auction

In a few days’ time, hot on the heels of their first motorcar auction of the year (in Arizona), the Bonhams team will be in Paris, preparing to open their 2018 campaign in Europe. The venue for the event, taking place on Thursday, February 8th, is Le Gran Palais. The proceedings will get under way at 12.30 p.m. with the automobilia lots, followed at 2 p.m. by the cars. Viewing for this sale will be possible all day on Wednesday, February 7th (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and will continue the following day, from 9 a.m. up to the start of the sale. The buyer’s premium, for car lots, will be 15% + TVA (French VAT). The catalog includes 132 cars (in addition to a child’s car, a boat and a bus), and 39 of these 132 have no reserve price. This Bonhams sale very much recalls auctions of the past, when no eyebrows would have been raised by a catalog, like this, that includes 44 pre-1939 cars and only four post-2000 ones, and just a single lot in the whole sale with an estimated value in excess of EUR 1 million. The oldest car in the catalog is a 1904 Fiat Type 24/32 Tonneau (chassis # 745) — a London-to-Brighton veteran with a known history from new. The youngest is a 2017 Fiat 500 Jollycar (chassis # ZFA3120000J790684), built in the style of the 1960s beach cars. The car with the lowest estimated value (EUR 9–11 K), being offered without reserve, is a 1975 Citroen CX 2200 (chassis # MA-MC-01MC6803), originally sold in France and now wearing Finnish plates. The car assigned the highest pre-sale estimate (EUR 1.2–1.4 million) is a highly original 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400 S (chassis # 3474), once part of the Schlumpf collection, but now looking for a new owner after 25 years of private ownership.

1935 Bugatti Type 57 3.3-Litre Torpedo “Tourist Trophy”

Bugatti 57s are important cars, mainly because they helped to keep the Molsheim-based firm very much in business during the pre-war years, when they were produced in considerable numbers. The Type 57 3.3-Litre Torpedo (chassis # 57264, see header above) being offered in Paris — its original chassis number was 57222, before it was modified by the firm — is a particularly special specimen, as it is the one that competed in the 1935 RAC Tourist Trophy, with Earl Howe and Pierre Levegh at the wheel. Its engine number (224) was first entered in official records on August 25th, 1935, whereas chassis # 57222 is not mentioned in writing until a few days later (August 29th, 1935) when, it appears, paired with the aforementioned engine, in a list of cars sold. It was immediately entered in the aforementioned Tourist Trophy, and ran a wonderful race, taking 3rd place. In January 1936 it was put up for sale for 60,000 French francs.

Paris-based Bugatti dealer Dominique Lamberjack described it as chassis #57264 teamed with Torpedo TT engine number 224, most likely because the factory had, in the meantime, decided to re-allocate the car’s original serial number (# 57222) to a new competition Torpedo. In June 1936, the Type 57 was driven by Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Bugatti salesman Roger Labric in the 24 Hours of Spa, during which its radiator burst. The damaged car was returned to Paris, where, on April 8th 1937, it was sold, most likely after being repaired, to talented French gentleman driver Pierre Boulin for FF 32,500. Boulin, a true enthusiast, idolized his uncle, Alfred Veighe, one of the pioneers of French racing driving, and decided to borrow the letters of his uncle’s surname to create his own racing pseudonym: Levegh. It was Pierre Levegh’s dream to win at Le Mans — a dream he almost managed to realize in 1952, but that ultimately killed him (in the 1955 race he died in a crash while driving the works 300 SLR fielded by Mercedes). Just after purchasing his “new” Bugatti, Levegh used it in the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay (B) finishing 3rd overall, and subsequently entered it in the Autumn Cup sports race the following September (finishing 8th). The car was advertised for sale in the daily paper L’Auto on March 15th, 1938.

In 1939, the car, having in the meantime been under British ownership and continued racing, was sold to Australian car enthusiast Duncan Ord, who was visiting England at the time. He had it shipped over to Australia where it was modified and carried on racing. The car changed hands again in 1952 and then in 1957, each time receiving new modifications. It continued to compete throughout this period, and its last race is the last known appearance of a Bugatti on the race track. In 1958, the Type 57 was sold to its current owner, then a young engineer from Perth. It has been in his possession for the past 60 years. In 1973 he started restoring the car to its original configuration. This work, all most all of which he did himself, was completed in 2010. The car has been estimated to be worth EUR 0.78–1.3 million.

1926 Bentley 3-Litre Red Label Speed Model Vanden Plas Tourer

The Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model was born of the success enjoyed by the Bentley Boys in the 1922 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. Their 3-liter cars were based on the short standard wheelbase chassis, equipped with bonnet leather straps, and painted in British Racing Green. The replicas, initially named the TT Replica and later the Red Label Speed Model (because of the red label on the radiator), were equipped, among other things, with twin SU ‘sloper’ carburetors, a more aggressive camshaft, and a close ratio gearbox. They also had a higher compression ratio.

Of all the 3-Litre cars built (1,613 in total), 513 were Speed models, mostly equipped with the Vanden Plas Tourer body. The car coming up for sale in Paris (chassis # LM1342, paired with engine number LM1348SS, still in the car today) has an unusually low windscreen. It is one of the most original Red Labels still in existence. It was ordered new by Gilbert & Sons Ltd of Lincoln (GB) and registered FE8689, the same number plate it wears today. A new owner in 1928 was followed by a further two before the war. Thanks to the assiduous record keeping of these owners, the car has a continuous service record through to December 1936. Thereafter, knowledge of the Bentley’s history is patchier. By 1945, it was owned by a Captain M.E. Webbe, and from June 1946 by a Mr Thomas Walker.

In January 1967 it was purchased by a Mr Frank Wood from a farmer who used the money to buy a new Ford. Wood kept it until March 2002, when it was sold to its current owner. This car has never been in an accident, and when the consignor sent it to Graham Moss for a complete restoration, the amazing extent of its originality became apparent: practically every component was found to bear the correct number. Repainted in the correct color and re-upholstered with the material of the correct type and color, the car is offered complete with its original manuals and tools, and with less than 2000 miles covered since its restoration. It is expected to around EUR  650–850 K.

1986 Renault Sinpar 4L Gendarmerie 4x4

The Renault 4 is one of the most successful “ordinary” cars ever: over the years, more than 8 million were produced. Indeed, like the Citroen 2CV and Fiat 500, it is a humble yet legendary car. The specimen offered (chassis # VF111280000550039) is a very special car, being a very rare 4x4 model built by Sinpar, equipped with an opening soft top roof, and originally assigned to the Gendarmerie (the French police), specifically to the high mountain platoon based in the Col de Tende. Completely restored, it is offered without reserve, with an estimated value of EUR 25–35 K.

1986 Lancia Delta S4 Group B Rallye

The amazing appeal of Group B rally cars is testified, today, by the number of YouTube viewings of videos featuring these cars. The Lancia Delta S4, so extreme and powerful that it has become a legend, is without doubt one of the most emblematic of these cars. This Lancia Delta S4 (chassis # 0051), being an ex-works, Abarth Classiche-certified car that has never been restored, offers an exciting combination of features. It was originally registered to Fiat Auto SpA on October 20th, 1986 (registration number TO 44805F), and after being prepared by Abarth’s racing department, it was used as test car. Unfortunately, because of the ban on Group B cars following the deadly accident during the 1986 Tour de Corse Rallye involving Henry Toivonen and Sergio Cresto, who were competing with their works Delta S4, #0051 never actually raced. Indeed, for this reason, it remained mostly unused and in almost perfect condition, which is particularly unusual for a racing car. After being re-registered (TO 44816F), it was sold, in 1988, to Comauto, one of the most prominent Lancia dealers of the time. Two Italian collectors down the line, the car was sold to a German collector before finally, in 2008, entering its current ownership. Used for classic rallies, including, on three occasions, the Rally Legend in San Marino, it is offered, ready to be enjoyed, with an estimate of EUR 580–780 K.

1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution 2

When Mercedes launched the “baby Benz” in 1982, it created a new market segment comprising compact cars, highly refined and stylistically advanced. With its sport evolution, the 190E 2.3-16, the German company entered the GT market and, more significantly, the European Tourism Championship arena, creating a stir and forcing competitors to develop their own cars in order to keep abreast and remain competitive. A few years later, the roles were reversed as Mercedes found itself forced to develop its 2.3 in order protect its reputation on the race track. Thus, the the 2.5-16 was born, and this quickly evolved into the Evo II version. The Evo II was not only more powerful, but also equipped with bigger spoilers. The car, in this new configuration, then had to be manufactured in the requisite number (500 specimens) to allow its homologation for racing. The car offered (chassis # WDN2010361F736404), the 211st built, was delivered new in Switzerland, where it is still registered today. This well-preserved car, which has had only two owners, has covered a total of around 94,000 kilometers from new. It will be sold complete with all its original documents and manuals including a booklet recording all its services. It is offered with an estimated value of EUR 85–125 K.

1966 Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 Touring Coupe

When Ferruccio Lamborghini founded his car company in 1963, he hired two of the best external consultants around: Giotto Bizzarrini (to design the engines) and Franco Scaglione (to design the bodywork). Although they did an excellent job, they were allowed too much freedom, with the result that they created a prototype that was amazing but unsuitable even for a limited production run. So, as Paolo Stanzani revised, in detail, the V-12 engine, Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, of Carrozzeria Touring, made some modifications to the original design before proceeding to build the body of the 350 GT. This, the first-ever Lamborghini model, made its debut in 1964. In 1966, the evolution, featuring a 4-liter engine, hence the new name (400 GT), went into production and between then and 1968, 247 of these cars rolled off the production line. The one being offered at the Bonhams sale (chassis # 0757) was manufactured in November 1966 and shipped to the USA, finished in Verde with Tabacco brown interior. After spending many years in California, the car returned to Italy. It was subsequently sold to the president of the Lamborghini Club of the Netherlands. Repainted in black, but still wearing the preserved Tabacco interiors, it is offered for sale with an estimated value of EUR 520–580 K.

All photos courtesy of Bonhams.

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