For 10 or maybe it’s been a dozen years, Jim Pixley Jr. has driven to Amelia Island from his home in Atlanta to attend the annual concours d’elegance, the annual gathering of gorgeous classic cars in an island setting on Florida’s northeastern coast. Afterward, he drives home and then searches the newsstand for a magazine that shows the same sort of cars he’s just seen.
Artcurial Paris 2014 at a glance
|Total sales||$33.78 million|
|Sell-through rate||85 percent|
|High sale||$3.44 million|
1953 Ferrari 166MM
|Next 9 price range||$1.01 million to $2.95 million|
|Next auction||July 5, Le Mans, France|
For the third year in succession, Artcurial Motorcars has established a record for the largest classic car auction held in France with its two-day sale during Retromobile, which posted $33.78 million in business.
“We are absolutely delighted with the results of this year’s Retromobile sale,” said Matthieu Lamoure, managing director of Artcurial Motorcars. “Interest was strong across the full range of motor cars on offer and the atmosphere in the sales room was fantastic. It was wonderful to present these cars to a room buzzing with excitement and packed with so many true enthusiasts.
“The results speak for themselves and our close-knit team, with a shared passion for collectors’ cars, gives Artcurial Motorcars a very special character.
“Selling the Ferrari 166MM the following day the day after the car crossed the block) has been the icing on the cake!”
For the first time, Artcurial’s Retromobile auction spanned two days, the second called “Solo Alfa” and devoted to 44 Alfa Romeos.
The 166MM highlighted by Lamoure is a 1953 166MM originally built with a Vignale body, but that was switched out in 1954 for one-off Oblin coachwork. The car, with an extensive racing history highlighted by victory in the Liege-Rome-Liege road race in 1953 and a runner-up finish in the Grand Prix at Spa in 1955, was restored to its appearance at the 1955 Brussels Motor Show.
The Ferrari didn’t quite reach its reserve price in bidding during its appearance on the block. However, consignor and bidder agreed to a price — $3.44 million — the following day, making the 166MM the top sale of the Artcurial auction and the second most costly car (after a 1955 Jaguar D-type at RM) during any of the three auctions during Retromobile, Europe’s mid-winter celebration of classic cars.
From the mid-1970s until 2001, Artcurial was an art gallery that was part of the L’Oreal (cosmetics) group’s holdings. After the gallery closed, catalog publisher Nicholas Orlowski, with investment from French aircraft and technology company Dassault, bought the gallery and with auctioneers Francis Briest, Herve Poulain and Remy Le Fur, turned it into an auction company selling not only art but objects from wine to watches and from comic strips to classic cars. In 2002, Artcurial moved into the Hotel Marcel Dassault, just off the famed Champs Elysses.
Combined with the RM and Bonhams auctions earlier in the week, the Artcurial sale boosted the Retromobile totals to more than $80.5 million.
The top sale completed on the block at Artcurial was $3.44 million for a 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sportsman coupe with coachwork by Gurney-Nutting. Talk about a long run of awards, the car won the best coachwork trophy from the Royal Auto Club in 1932 and also best-of-show at the Louis Vuitt0n concours in 1999.
In addition to the top-10 sales, all of which exceeded $1 million, highlights of the auction included the sales of:
- An unrestored 1937 Delahaye 135 Coupe des Alpes cabriolet with Chapron coachwork ($128,888) that had been owned by the same family since 1961;
- A 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Mulliner-bodied cabriolet ($386,065) formerly owned by French film star Brigitte Bardot;
- A black-with-yellow-flames 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air coupe ($65,953) formerly owned by Ringo Starr;
- One of seven 1975 Citroen SM Mylord convertibles by Chapron ($739,958);
- A barn-found 1941 Pierre Faure electric car ($69,170, which was more than double its pre-auction estimate);
- A collection of archival material from acclaimed car designer Tom Tjaarda ($17,465).
Top-1o sales | Artcurial Paris (prices include commission)
- 1953 Ferrari 166MM by Oblin, $3,441,225
- 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sportsman coupe by Gurney-Nutting, $2,955,945
- 1924 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A cabriolet by Ramseier, $1,737,076
- 1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Type 68 by Vanvooren, $1,520,940
- 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, $1,241,540
- 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ coupe, $1,289,366
- 1933 Delage D8 S cabriolet by Pourtout, $1,281,647
- 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS, $1,213,719
- 1969 Lamborghini Miura S, $1,088,669
- 1969 Maserati Ghibli Spyder 4.9-litre, $1,011,477
Bonhams Paris 2014 at a glance
|Total sales||$23.1 million|
150 lots of automobilia
|Sell-through rate||71 percent|
|High sale||$2.99 million|
1968 Ferrari 2785 GTB/4 Berlinetta
|Next 9 price range||$419,019 to $2.17 million|
|Next auction||March 8, Oxford, UK (classic cars)|
April 27, Stafford, UK (vintage motorcycles)
Held during Retromobile, Europe’s big winter-time celebration of classic cars, Bonhams’ Grand Palais auction posted $23.1 million in sales with more than 100 cars, many motorcycles and an array of automobilia going to new owners.
Perhaps the most spirited and lengthy bidding of the event produced the second-most expensive sale with hundreds of spectators applauding the bidding battle for a 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix racer formerly owned by Jack Lemon Burton and Lady Mary Grosvenor.
The car was sold — for $2.17 million — to a bidder who had traveled to Paris from Asia.
The next car available was a 1968 Ferrari 275GTB/4 Berlinetta when sold for record $2.99 million (225,000 euros).
In another lengthy bidding session — perhaps because it was a French car being sold in France — a 1947 Delage D6 3-liter Competition Grand Prix/Sport racer eventually sold for $1.47 million.
Two Aston Martins were among the top-10 sales — a left-hand driven 1962 DB4GT going for nearly $1.6 million — more than double its pre-auction estimate — and a Goldfinger-style 1965 DB5 bringing $1.04 million.
In another highlight, a “barn find” 1962 Facel Vega II coupe which had been kept in storage in the United States for 40 years, sold at the Paris sale for $209,500.
An early highlight in the auction was the sale to benefit charity of a Harley-Davidson owned by Pope Francis.
Top-10 sales | Bonhams Paris (prices including commission)
- 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta, $2,993,640
- 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix deux places, $2,172,695
- 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT (Series IV) coupe, $1,598,482
- 1947 Delage D6 3-liter Competition Grand Prix Sports biplace, $1,474,328
- 1965 Aston Martin DB5, $1,047,549
- 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, $962,193
- 1939 Lagonda V12 drophead coupe, $682,847
- 1984 Ferrari 126 C4 M2 Formule One (Alboreto) racer, $651,808
- 1989 Porsche 911 Speedster, $419,019
- 1966 Citroen DS21 “Le Caddy” cabriolet, $419,019
RM Paris 2014 at a glance
|Total sales||$23.7 million|
|Sell-through rate||78.8 percent|
|High sale||$4.948 million|
1955 Jaguar D-Type
|Next 9 price range||$599,700 to $3.34 million|
|Next auction||May 10, Monaco|
RM’s inaugural Paris auction, held during the annual Retromobile celebration of classic cars, posted $23.7 million in sales, and reached that figure with not quite 80 percent of the 53 lots selling.
“We’ve had a fantastic night here in Paris,” RM’s European managing director Max Girado said in a news release after the sale. “We wanted our debut sale to impress by bringing some exceptional cars to market, and with over 17.7-million Euros sold and almost 80 percent of all lots finding new homes, we have continued our amazing track record in Europe.”
The sale featured seven cars with impressive racing histories from the collection of Australian Peter Harburg.
“Without a doubt, it was an honor to offer the Harburg Collection, which perfectly demonstrates that the market is hungry for quality cars with important historical provenance,” Girado said.
Four of those Harburg cars represented the auction’s highest-dollar sales, which include commision:
A 1955 Jaguar D-type, formerly raced by Australian driving champion Bib Stillwell and formerly owned by Le Mans-winner Richard Attwood, led all cars at the sale by bringing $4.947 million.
A 1982 Porsche 956 Group C sports prototype that finished third at Le Mans in 1982 was next at $3.35 million.
A 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider raced by Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby brought $2.6 million.
A 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS sold for $1.72 million.
Another Harburg car, a 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder, was bid to $2.67 million but fell short of its reserve.
In perhaps the biggest surprise of the auction, a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 600 six-door Pullman Landaulet in “barn-found” condition sold for $719,000 — seventh-highest sale of the entire auction — after going to sale with a pre-auction estimate of $100,000 to $160,000.
The catalog-cover feature car for RM’s first Paris auction, a 1953 Gordini Type 24 S that raced at Le Mans, the mille Miglia and the Carrera Panamericana, was bid to $3.34 million but failed to meet reserve, as did a 2008 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP that finished second at Le Mans and won the Petit Le Mans race and was bid to $1.87 million and a 2010 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport bid to $1.13 million.
Top-10 sales / RM Paris (figures include commission)
- 1955 Jaguar D-type, 4,947,798
- 1982 Porsche 956 Group C sports-prototype, $3,148,598
- 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider, $2,623,832
- 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, $1,724,232
- 1936 Delahaye 135 S, $1,349,399
- 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster, $1,102,009
- 1971 Mercedes-Benz 600 six-door Pullman Landaulet, $769,746
- 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 S ‘SV Spec,’ $697,189
- 1990 Ferrari F40, $689,693
- 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S roadster, $599,733
Mecum Kissimmee 2014 at a glance
|Total sales||$63.4 million|
3,000 items of “road art”
|Sell-through rate||64 percent|
1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
|Next 9 price range||$240,000 to $530,000|
|Next auction||April 4-5, Davenport, IA (vintage tractors)|
April 10-12, Houston, TX (classic cars)
If you watched the live NBC television coverage of Mecum’s marathon Kissimmee classic car auction, you saw the 1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR prototype known as the “Real McCoy” sell for some $2.3 million. But if you looked at the official top-10 sales posted at the conclusion of the auction, you likely wondered why a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda that sold for $560,000 was listed as the event’s high-dollar sale.
“The car (Corvette) crossed the block and sold on the telephone on live television,” said John Kraman, Mecum’s director of consignments. “We’d hoped for a little more, but the seller was OK with the amount.”
But not everyone was OK with the sale.
“We started to hear rumblings,” Kraman said, adding ,that it wasn’t until after the 10-day auction was over and he was back at Mecum headquarters in Wisconsin that he learned that parties had came forth saying that they owned parts used in the car’s restoration and therefore had a claim against the sale, which was called off.
What happens next is up to the seller and those contending ownership. “We’re just the intermediary,” Kraman said, adding that, fortunately, “nobody’s mad at us.”
Yes, he said, Mecum would have liked to add a couple million to the auction sales total of more than $63 million from the sale of 1,759 of the 2,750 vehicles that crossed the block. But while there may be some disappointment over what happened with the Real McCoy, Kraman said there’s no displeasure with the overall auction.
“It was immense,” he said. “It was so many people having such a good time over such a long length of time. People were there celebrating collector cars.”
Kraman said the first few days of the auction featured “affordable car after affordable car, sub-$10,000 cars.” Then came a day for what Mecum calls “road art” (automobilia) and then the higher-dollar cars filled out the rest of the 10-day schedule.
“A lot of people said, ‘You can’t do it. It’s too long, and competing with Scottsdale,’” he said. “But we had another amazing event. We had a great auction.”
Mecum’s eagerness to include so many entry-level cars “doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint,” Kraman said. “You want the most expensive cars you can because you’re working off a percentage.
“But we don’t look at it that way. Dana’s requirement is to inventory-manage properly, to have the right cars on the right days in the right time slots, and to build up gradually toward the climax.”
There’s a lot of interest in vintage pickup trucks and in four doors instead of just two.” — John Kraman
There’s a lot of interest in vintage pickup trucks and in four doors instead of just two.”
— John Kraman
“There’s a lot of interest in vintage pickup trucks and in four doors instead of just two,” he said. “Those were about half the entry-level docket.”
Another big group, he said, was that of late-model European luxury cars, especially 1970s and 1980s Mercedes-Benz sports cars, the “SL series.”
Who buys them? “There are three different buyers,” Kraman said. “There are (classic car) dealers buying cars. There are collectors coming to buy two, three or maybe five or six cars who might see a $6,000 ’79 SL as a summer driver in addition to the $200,000 Boss 429 Mustang they’re also buying. And there are people who come to buy a specific car, a car they’ve always wanted.”
Kraman said Kissimmee clarified a couple of trends he’s seen developing, both at Mecum auctions and during his recent visit to Scottsdale and other venues: the popularity of 1950s pickup trucks, either restored to stock condition or customized, and a fast-growing demand for 1970s Pontiac Trans Ams.
“Trans Ams continue to gain in value and buzz,” he said, “as we shift away from boomers stuck in the ’50s and ’60s. There are not a lot of choices in the 1970s, and the Trans Am is the car from the ’70s to have. Prices are very strong.”
Prices also were very strong for Corvettes. Had the event been a Corvette-only auction, it still would have generated $11.89 million from the sale of 232 of the Chevrolet sports cars. Several of those cars came from the Vance Shappley Collection, including a 1969 L88 convertible, a ’63 Z06 “tanker” and a ’64 “big tank” coupe (see chart below for details).
Two other Corvettes also were among the top-10 high-dollar sales.
Ford Mustangs were strong, with more than 120 selling for nearly $5 million.
Also impressive was the sale of more than 100 Mopar products, including the 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda that led the auction at $560,000.
More than 40 Porsches were sold, led by a 1973 911S coupe for $200,000 and a 1958 356A 1600 Super cabriolet for $195,000.
Top-10 sales / Mecum Kissimmee:
1. 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda (Lot S143) at $560,000
2. 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 coupe (Lot S179) at $530,000
3. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 convertible (Lot S165.1) at $510,000
4. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 tanker (Lot S150.1) at $475,000
5. 1964 Chevrolet Corvette big tank coupe (Lot S181.1) at $350,000
6. 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition (Lot S196) at $320,000
7. 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Hurst Hemi Under Glass (Lot S200) at $300,000
8. 2006 Ford GT (Lot T181.1) at $242,500
9. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette coupe (Lot S156) at $240,000
10. 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 fastback (Lot S141) at $240,000
Prices indicate hammer prices, excluding sales commission.
After six minutes of bidding earlier today, the hammer fell and Pope Francis’ 2013 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide sold for $404,500 at Bonhams Paris sale. A Harley-Davidson jacket donated by the pope brought another $78,000. Proceeds of both sales go to the renovation of Caritas Roma’s Do Luigi di Liegro hostel and soup kitchen in Rome’s Termini railway station.
The hostel opened 30 years ago to help the homeless, jobless and poor.
The Harley and the jacket, both signed by Pope Francis, were given to the pontiff by the American motorcycle manufacturer during the company’s 110th anniversary celebration last summer.
“I am thrilled with the result achieved and am very pleased for the charity,” said Ben Walker, head of motorcycle sales for Bonhams. “It has to be a world record for a twenty-first century Harley-Davidson and certainly for a Harley-Davidson leather jacket.”
“We are delighted with the results of the sale, which far exceeded any of our expectations,” said Enrico Feroci, director of Caritas Roma. “We would like to thank Bonhams for their professionalism with handling the motorcycle and for all their efforts in helping us to achieve such an amazing result.”
Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde sale continues today at the Grand Palais in Paris.
As part of the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, a Concours d’Elegance was staged in 2012 on the private grounds of Windsor Castle. Sixty cars were invited, one representing each year of Her Majesty’s reign on the British throne.
A 60th anniversary may last only a year, but organizers of the concours decided from the start to do an annual gathering of 60 “of the very best cars in the world.” They also had good enough connections with the royal family to stage the subsequent concours at various royal palaces.
In 2013, the Concours d’Elegance was held at St. James’ Palace in London. This year, the third international concours will be September 6-7 on the grounds at Hampton Court Palace, which was built for King Henry VIII.
While only 60 cars are included in the formal concours, hundreds more — from British Aston Martin, Bentley, Bristol, Ferrari and other marque car clubs — will be on display around the extensive palace grounds.
The concours is organized by Thorough Events, which also stages classic car tours and enthusiast experiences, and is held with His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent as patron. Money from ticket sales and other sources go to charity.
Unlike most concours, there is no judging. Organizers contend that each car is scrutinized before being invited and therefore all 60 cars already have been deemed winners before arriving on the royal grounds.
Updates will be posted on www.concoursofelegance.com.
Retromobile, the sweeping annual classic car festival in Paris, opens its doors today with more than 400 exhibitors, three major auctions, collector cars and automobilia for sale, and with many special features, including 15 magnificent maharaja cars of India, a display dedicated to Italian automaker Lancia, and the sights and sounds of early land-speed-record race cars.
Continuing through Feb. 9, the 39th annual Retromobile has grown for the first time into the largest hall at the Place de Versailles Exhibition Center as it kicks off Europe’s classic car season for 2014.
Among the special exhibits is an homage to land-speed-record drivers of the 1920s, John Parry-Thomas and Sir Malcolm Campbell, and their streamlined cars. On display is Parry-Thomas’ reconstructed racer named Babs – in which he fatally crashed during a record attempt– that’s powered by a 27-liter V12 aircraft engine, and the 500-horsepower Blue Bird Sunbeam that Campbell drove to more than 150 mph.
You can witness the Blue Bird being fired up recently at the National Motor Museum in England in a video posted on the ClassicCars.com Blog by clicking on: Blue Bird Flies. The engine is expected to be started again during Retromobile.
Even if you’re not traipsing around Paris this week, Retromobile and its three associated auctions offer some great articles and eye candy that are available online. Check out Retromobile’s enjoyable and extensive website at www.en.retromobile.com, which includes photos and information about the current exhibitors as well as a number of photo galleries from past shows.
Websites for the three collector-car auctions are loaded with high-quality photos and descriptions of the cars, motorcycles and automobilia that are coming up for sale. Click on each auction’s name to be taken to its website:
RM Auctions, which holds its inaugural Paris auction today.
Bonhams, which holds its high-end sale Thursday.
Artcurial, which has expanded its event to Friday for its regular auction and Saturday for an all Alfa-Romeo sale.
What the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association refers to as “the fourth race in the 2014 East Coast schedule,” figures to be one of the most important in American vintage racing history. Why? Because the venue is the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The inaugural Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational has been announced for June 6-8.
After an understated opening sentence to the SVRA’s new release about the event, the racing group recovered nicely: “This one promises to be a blockbuster for competitors and spectators,” the new release continued.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s announcement noted that more than 500 vintage race cars are expected for races to be held on the track’s recently reconfigured 2.44-mile infield road course. Vintages racers also will “have a chance to drive the historic 2.5 mile oval,” according to the Speedway’s announcement.
Among the cars expected are those that have raced in the Indianapolis 500 as well as in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, Formula One, Grand-Am and the Trans-Am series, along with the regular SVRA classes.
The incredible heritage and geographic location of the Speedway will make the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational the largest Vintage event ever held in the United States.”
— SVRA president
“Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans appreciate and enjoy the history of racing and welcoming this event to IMS is the perfect way to celebrate racing history with cars that have competed in all different classes and many different venues over the last 100 years,” J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. said in the track’s news release.
“SVRA events are incredibly fan friendly, offering everyone the rare opportunity to get close to the historic racecars, talk to the owners and drivers, and trade stories about racing’s heritage. When you combine the story of each of the cars competing to the over 100 years of history and stories of competition at IMS, this will be an unforgettable weekend of racing.”
“We are extremely pleased and excited to present the first ever Vintage racing event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said SVRA president Tony Parella. “We are confident that the incredible heritage and geographic location of the Speedway will make the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational the largest Vintage event ever held in the United States.”
A complete racing schedule for the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational will be announced at a later date. The event will begin with a practice day on Thursday, June 5 with free admission for everyone, with racing throughout the weekend beginning on June 6.
The SVRA news release also noted that, for the first time in Indy speedway history, camping will be allowed in the infield during the vintage racing weekend.
Cars eligible to do laps on the oval will be grouped in four classes: 1900-1942 oval racers, 1943-64 circle track cars, 1965-85 circle track cars and 1966-2000 circle track cars.
“This package will give a driver the chance to experience the legendary 2.5 mile oval with ‘green flag’ conditions on the straightaway and ‘yellow flag’ conditions around the corners,” according to the SVRA. “This will be high speed exhibition hot laps that are not timed. Track time is expected to include 3 separate sessions between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.”
Two special feature races will be staged — one for cars with Brickyard history and one for cars that have raced in F1 events.
Searching for just the right premium motorcar to suit the discriminating taste of your 10 year old?
Well, look no further, for a British classic car dealer is offering a tiny but functional automobile styled after a vintage Aston Martin roadster that’s certain to suit the most aristocratic of youngsters.
With the styling of a classic Aston Martin DB5 drophead from the 1960s, the DB Junior is a half-size single seater powered by a 110cc four-stroke engine, three-speed semi-automatic transmission and hydraulic disc brakes. Top speed (which can be adjusted downward by concerned parents) is an impressive 46 mph.
Just the thing for a young lord to tour the grounds of Downton Abbey. Or for an imaginary James Bond adventure in miniature.
The price tag is nearly $26,000 U.S., which would buy a real-life vehicle for most folks.
The little cars are being marketed by Nicholas Mee & Co., Aston Martin Heritage Dealer in West London. A spokesman for the dealer noted that they are built by a British-owned company in Asia and are not in any way associated with the Aston Martin car company of Gaydon, England, the legendary automaker that builds the genuine article.
“When we first saw the DB Junior we couldn’t stop smiling,” said Nicholas Mee, managing director of the dealership. “We then realized that these scaled-down 1960s convertibles would complement full-sized offerings here in our showrooms.”