RM Sotheby’s 2018 Paris sale

This year’s RM Sotheby’s Paris sale, held in the city’s Place Vauban on Wednesday 7th February, recorded good results, albeit not quite up to the excellent level we have come to expect from this auction house. The event generated a total turnover of EUR 23.75 million (including the commission of 15% on transactions worth up to EUR 200 K, plus 12.5% on any amounts paid above this threshold). With 69 of the 84 lots coming under the hammer, it achieved a sale rate of just over 82%.

The lots sold had an average value of EUR 343,478. Only four cars fetched amounts in excess of EUR 1 million, and the two best sellers were both cars built after the year 2000. It is worth recalling that, as mentioned in our preview, the RM Sotheby’s catalog included 35 lots offered without reserve. A couple of new world record prices were set in the course of the event, one of them by the sale’s most expensive (and youngest) car, the 2017 Bugatti Chiron (chassis #VF9SP3V39HM795042), which broke the EUR 3 million barrier, becoming the only car in this sale to do so. At the other end of the spectrum, the car with the lowest pre-sale estimate (EUR 25-30 K), a 1967 Autobianchi Bianchina Cabriolet Eden Roc (chassis # 1108122008574), restored and ready to be driven, did indeed prove to be the least expensive sale. Changing hands for EUR 16.1 K, this car, which had been offered without reserve, fetched considerably less than its lower estimated value.

This was an auction in which “modern cars” featured prominently (a full 16 were built since the turn of the century); accordingly, one of the two best-performing lots was from the class of 2017, while the other was dated 2005. Generally speaking, the performance of these modern cars proved crucial to the success of the auction, given that three older cars that had been expected to be among the top lots all failed to find new owners: I refer to the 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy, the ex-Johnny Hallyday 1965 ISO Grifo A3/C, and the 1953 Ferrari 166 MM Spyder (the car with the highest pre-sale estimate).

All the prices given include the buyer’s premium on the hammer price.

The six cars we previewed

Four of the six cars we featured in our preview of the RM Sotheby’s Paris sale were sold, two of them making it into the Top Ten. The sale’s second highest price was recorded by the 2005 Maserati MC-12 with three owners from new and a chassis with a known history. Changing hands at EUR 2.01 million, this car, which had been offered without reserve and assigned an estimated value of 2–2.5 million, can be regarded as a great purchase more than a good sale.

Third place in the Top Ten went to another of our selected cars, the 1958 BMW 507, a car with a wonderful story which has seen it in the hands of just two owners and, remarkably, cared for by a single mechanic from the very beginning of its life. It sold for EUR 1.78 million, a price close to the higher end of its pre-sale estimated value range (EUR 1.6–1.8 million). The 1970 Volkswagen-Porsche 914/6 GT, boasting an interesting racing history in period and now freshly restored, sold for EUR 241,250, perfectly in line with its EUR 220–260 K estimate.

The 1958 Triumph TR3A Works Rally Car, the only known survivor of the four specially built to compete in the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally, well restored some years ago and offered ready to be used, came under the hammer at EUR 184,000, slightly above its estimated value of EUR 160–180 K, and thus set a new record for a TR3A sold at an auction. The 1953 Ferrari 166 MM Spider, offered with an estimated value of EUR 3.7–4.5 million, and the 1964 ISO Grifo A3/C, estimated to be worth EUR 2.5–3 million, both failed to sell.


The Top Ten at the RM Sotheby’s 2018 Paris sale

  1. EUR 3,323,750. 2017 Bugatti Chiron (chassis # VF9SP3V39HM795042), one of the first 20 delivered, less than 1000 kilometers covered from new. This car set a new world record price for the model, albeit fetching a price nearer the lower end of its estimated value range (EUR 3.2–3.6 million).
  2. EUR 2,001,875. 2005 Maserati MC-12, covered in our preview. Offered without reserve, this car, expected to fetch around EUR 2–2.5 million, just managed to exceed its lower estimated value.
  3. EUR 1,776,875. 1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II, covered in our preview. This car fell comfortably within its estimated value range of EUR 1.6–1.8 million.
  4. EUR 1,152,050. 1993 Bugatti EB110 Supersport Prototype (chassis #ZA9BB02E0PCD39006). Used to develop the Supersport series, this car, with a clock reading of just 3300 kilometers from new, sold for slightly more than its estimated value of EUR 0.85–1.1 million.
  5. EUR 993,125. 1992 Ferrari F40 (chassis # ZFFGJ34B000093710), one of the early cars built with catalytic converters and adjustable front suspensions; its catalytic converters and fuel tank were very recently replaced, and it also had a recent belt service. Offered without reserve, it exceeded its estimated value of EUR 850–950 K.
  6. EUR 792,500. 1954 OSCA 2000 S (chassis #2005S), one of the only four 2000 S models produced, and one of the three bodied by Morelli. This car, winner of the 1954 12 Hours of Messina, changed hands at less than its predicted value of EUR 875–975 K.
  7. EUR 736,250. 1967 Maserati Mistral 4.0 Spyder Frua (chassis #AM109/SA1 627), one of the only 37 Spyders built with the 4-liter engine. Still sporting its original color scheme, Oro (gold) over a white interior, it failed to realize its estimated value of EUR 750–850 K.
  8. EUR 708,125. 1970 Maserati Ghibli 4.7 Spyder (chassis # AM115/S 1233), one of the only 125 Ghibli Spyders built. Originally “Verde Gemma”, in recent years it was repainted in black. It fetched a price within its estimated value range of EUR 700–800 K.
  9. EUR 680,000. 1995 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet (chassis # WP0ZZZ99ZSS338509), one of the only 14 manufactured by Porsche Exclusive, with a single ownership over the past 20 years and 32,200 kilometers from new. This car matched its pre-sale estimate (EUR 625–725 K(.
  10. EUR 646,250. 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Roadster (chassis # 188.012.00244/53), one of the only 54 built. Well kept, but driven, this car, too, matched its pre-sale estimate (EUR 625–675 K).

Some of the other cars

Results and figures apart, it has to be noted that on this occasion the RM Sotheby’s sale room lacked its usual buzz. It is difficult to say whether this can be attributed to the rather average level of the cars in the Canadian company’s catalog, or whether it reflects a general cooling of enthusiasm on the market. Nevertheless, the event provided confirmation of a recent trend that has seen interesting and correctly priced cars almost always finding new owners (and by correctly we do not mean economically). To appreciate this, you need only look at the amount of times descriptions like “one of the only X built/manufactured” appear in our rundown of the event’s Top Ten sellers. On the other hand, it was interesting to see a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 Series III (chassis # 4189 GT), quite a normal car and a model largely forgotten by the market until few years ago, managing to fetch well above its estimated value of EUR 430–470 K. Indeed, this particular car, perfectly restored, Ferrari Classiche certified, and boasting a known history from new, as well as a limited number of owners, sold, after some strong bidding, for EUR 516,875. Other highlights included the sale of a 1977 BMW 633 CSi (chassis #4377457), one of the E24 series, originally registered to Björn Ulvaeus of the group ABBA, and featured in some period pictures. This car, in good and original condition and offered without reserve, sold for EUR 34,500, close to the top end of its estimated value range of EUR 25–35 K.

Two particularly strong results provided confirmation that a new generation of collectors is now on the lookout for more recent cars. One concerned a 1988 RUF CTR Clubsport (chassis #WP0ZZZ91ZKS101210) with a six-speed manual gearbox, fresh from an RUF revamping and, most likely, the only one originally painted in Mint Green. Originally based on a Porsche 911, this car, offered without a reserve price, sold for EUR 348,125, well above its estimate of EUR 275–325 K.

Similarly, a 1995 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione II “Dealers Collection”, offered with only 20,700 kilometers from new and a full service history, sold for EUR 161,000, far more than its EUR 90–120 K estimate. It is interesting to note that all the six pre-war cars included in the catalog (five of which came from the same collection) sold well. After being offered without reserve, three reached their estimated value and the other three fetched more, or considerably more, than expected.

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