Classic Auction Review

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Bug flew Tricolore in Le Grand Palais with Retomobile sales topping 4.6m euros (£3.91m) result during 19.69m euros (£16.74m) Bonhams sale

A much appreciated 1932 Bugatti T55 Supersport with unique coachwork for two topped the sale results of all three Retromobile week auctions with a 4,600,000 euros (£3.91m) performance under the Bonhams gavel at the historic location of the very first Motor Show in 1901.
The Goodwood previewed Type 55 had started life as a 1932 Le Mans Bugatti works entry driven by Louis Chiron and Count Guy Bouriat-Quintart, before being re-configured by celebrated Parisian designer Giuseppe Figoni, who created the unique cabriolet coachwork still on the car 88 years later, albeit repaired and previously restored. It was in this new high fashion guise that Figoni bodied chassis 55221 became the overall winner of the 1933 Paris-Nice Rally with its second owner-driver, French publisher Jacques Dupuy.
Fresh to market in the French capital after more than 56 years in the ownership of leading British Bugatti connoisseur, the late Geoffrey St John, and latterly of his niece, Dr Alissar McCreary, the auctioning of this car was a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy a fine example of the golden age of automotive craftsmanship with the benefit of period Le Mans provenance.
All of which explains why this great Parisian beauty excited a serious, yet spirited three-way bidding battle, before finally being hammered away by Bonhams Malcolm Barber to a clearly ecstatic Bugatti collecting couple from Switzerland in the seats for 4m euros (£3.4m) to much applause. In this, the most palatial saleroom in the French capital, the premium inclusive 4,600,000 euros paid (£3.91) was not only the highest price at the Paris sales this year, but also more than any car achieved in all eight of the sales held in Arizona last month.
Whereas the sale of the 1931 Australian GP winning 1925 Bugatti T39 Grand Prix 2-seater had to be abandoned with an insufficient 820,000 euros (£697,000) on the currency scoreboard. While an originated in 1967 Ferrari 206S Sports Prototype, re-bodied in 1969 as the current lightweight ‘Montagna’ and a finisher at the 1970 Targa Florio, fell short of vendor expectation and was also unsold at 2,850,000 euros (£2,422,500).
A sparkling 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K, one of only 31 Sindelfingen Cabrio A built, delivered new to leading French film actor of the day Henry Garat, did sell however for a within estimate 1,610,000 euros (£1.37m), while a below guide 1,033,333 euros (£878,333) was accepted straight afterwards for a 1963 300SL Roadster with disc brakes, all-aluminium engine and factory hardtop. A 1971 280SE 3.5 Cabrio with floor-shift box went for 299,000 euros (£253,312).
A more than top estimate 1,610,000 euros (£1,368,500) and a new world record price for the marque was forthcoming for a well-worn, but apparently working well 1931 Invicta 4½-Litre S Type Low Chassis Sports with original engine and registration and mostly original paint and interior. A Brooklands-winning, works-built 1934 Talbot AV105 in Racing Talbot distinctive Apple Green meanwhile, retrospectively a Plateau 1 winner at a Le Mans Classic and a past winner of the 2013 Flying Scotsman Rally, also changed pilotes for a healthy 879,750 euros (£747,788) with premium.
An only just below estimate 724,500 euros (£613,796) bought a brightly painted 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900SZ Zagato Coupe and an always rare 1952 Pegaso Z-102 2.8 Cabrio by ENASA fetched 713,000 euros (£604,053). While imposing Germans sold here included a 1937 Horch 853 Spezial Roadster in the grand style of Erdmann & Rossi captured for a less than estimated 563,500 euros (£477,397) and a Maybach SW38 Spezial Roadster of the same vintage in the style of Spohn for 517,500 euros (£472,397).
One of the most viewed lots in the Palais was a 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B with bespoke Phaeton Cabriolet coachwork by Derham of Pasadena to a Hibbard & Darrin design. Complete, but more than ripe for total restoration, the once Countess owned project, which was rediscovered on a Michigan ranch, was taken on in Paris for 333,500 euros (£282,541). The same money bought a run-ready 1927 Bugatti T40 which had been fitted with Grand Sport Roadster coachwork during an older restoration in the UK.
A 1958 Aston Martin DB Mk3 Tickford Fixed Head left hooker persuaded a new owner to part with 253,000 euros (£214,341) and the same was paid for a high rise 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50p Silver Ghost London to Edinburgh Limo.  A buyer paid 241,500 euros (£204,598) for a 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster, while a 1938 Delahaye 135M ‘MyLord’ Chapron Cabrio cost the next guardian 235,750 euros (£199,727), a 1956 Lancia Aurelia B24S PF Cabrio 227,500 euros (£192,738), and a 1935 Delahaye 135 ‘Coupe des Alpes’ Labourdette Coupe 230,000 euros (£194,856).
And now for something completely different, from this century. Based on a 2009 Ferrari Scuderia donor was a 2019 Manufattura Automobili Torino Lancia Stratos look-alike with carbon-fibre bodywork and F1-type paddle-shifters to play with that packed a 540bhp 4.3 V8 in the tail. Number one of a planned production run of 25, and therefore also the first to be auctioned, had only done 3000k since transformation by MAT and fetched 690,000 euros (£586,500), a huge amount for what will always be a Stratos Rep.
And yet all three collector ‘Lancia’ Lancias did not sell. For a 1985 Delta S4 Stradale that had been driven less than 3000k since new by two owners ran out bids at 470,000 euros. A genuine Stratos HF Stradale from 1976 was unsold at 360,000 euros (£306,000) and a Markku Alen and Micki Biasion rallied 1988 Delta HF Integrale 8v Group A that Alen had driven to victory on the Rally Costa Smeralda also ran out of gas at 200,000 euros (£170,000) when at least 280,000 euros (£238,000) was sought.
Before any post-sales had been done, a total of 63 or 64% out of 98 voitures had sold for over 19.4m (£16.49m) and an average of 312,587 euros (£265,699) had been spent per car. Although 35 cars did not sell, several of the higher priced ones did, which bucked the trend seen at many end of 2019 sales in the UK.
In what remain most uncertain times internationally however, the T55 result was undoubtedly a huge fillip for Equipe Bonhams and their latest Paris sale also confirmed that enthusiast buyers for post-WW1 and pre-WW2 automobiles are far from extinct. RH-E


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    Classic Auction Review congratulates Josh Fisher on winning the 2019 Castle Combe FF1600 Championship in the C.A.R. supported 1999 Van Diemen RF99/JL14 run by Wayne Poole Racing.
    With victory at the Grand Finals Day round on 14 September, 2008 and 2017 Champion Fisher has therefore secured his third FF1600 title for WPR with 6 wins, 3 seconds and a third place at the West Country circuit.
    Our thanks to Swindon Powertrain for building a race winning engine, the WPR crew for preparing a car that has achieved a 100% finishing record and, of course, to photographer Mike Stokes for digitally capturing the action.

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