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The most awesome carspotting experience at Rétromobile is the Auction

You think insurance is overrated? I haven’t watched my steps so vigorously since prom night’s dance. When wandering among million-euro vehicles, one wrong move and my family fortune are gone, including that of my grand-grandchildren.

One of the highlights of Rétromobile (more info on the show in the intro-post) is the auction of high-end luxury cars at the stage of the Artcurial Auction House.  Upon acquisition of the catalogue, visitors can access the floor to observe the exquisites and rarities. This year, the auction will be divided into four chapters: on 8th February, collector cars were presented (basically the bulk of cars), including an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta from 1939 and a Bugatti 51 Grand Prix from 1931.

The next day, a collection of 93 MV Agusta classic motorcycles were lined up. In the morning of 10th February, a V12 engine from a Ferrari F50 and a 1968 Villa d’Este boat will be offered during the “Racing, Flying, Yachting” sale and lastly, the “Vibration” sale, featuring the world’s largest ensemble of Formula 1 helmets and accessories will end the auction week.

The flagship car of the auction was a noble Alfa from the pre-war era. The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta was estimated at 16 – 22 Million euros, even if sold at lower end of that threshold. At a 16,7 Million euros sales price, you start to question your friends joking about the depreciation of Alfas. : )

The Hammer fell at 16,7 Million euros (!!!!)

At that Epoque, Alfa Romeo was successfully competing with the dominant German constructors, and having won the most important races, the firm decided to share this success with its private customers by creating road-legal versions of its race cars. Some thirty 2.9-litre chassis were built, fitted with spider or Berlinetta bodies, equipped with competition engines. Just five examples of the Berlinetta version were built by the Italian coachbuilder Touring.

Along with the Bugatti Atlantic, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta these cars showed the quintessence of everything that was magnificent about pre-war production and boasted the awards from the most prestigious Concours d’Elégances.

Some of the featured cars were on individual podiums, where you know the car is exceptional, even among the Auction lots like a Countach, an Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato or a Mercedes SLS. Like the 1931 Bugatti 51 Grand Prix estimated at 4.000.000 euros.

I was ever more surprised to find a 1936 Bugatti 57 Atlantic without a podium, but it turned out it was a very professional replica in the chassis of a 57 series production car.

The 1953 Maserati A6GCS race car was a permanent guest, or at least I recall to see a similar one showcased last year too. Participation is no guarantee for a sale here, but the amounts I see I don’t recall in any other classic car show.

The centre stage featured three of the Serenissima automobiles produced by Count Volpi by hiring a team of rebellious Ferrari designers in the early 1960s to rival Maranello’s creations. The three GT cars on offer have not moved from their garage since the end of the Serenissima adventure.

There are a few bar finds like a set of Bugattis (the 1929 Type 40 needs some work to finish, given the bare wooden frame) and ancient Mercedes (including a 1908 Simplex, that requires a bit more than polishing).

There was also a decent line-up of modern cars, but it takes more than rarity and value to get a podium.

I was still impressed by the SLR Stirling Moss edition. The car was the last version of the McLaren Mercedes cooperation project that ended in 2009. Named after the British racing driver Stirling Moss and introduced at the North American Auto Show in 2009, this edition was only offered to existing SLR owner,  and only 75 cars were made. The list price was towards USD 1 million, now it’s on sale for over double the amount.

There are many automotive memorabilia among the lot. Apparently, the Lambo and the Porsche tractor is an obligatory accessory to any major collection these days.. : )

In addition, there are all kinds of rarities, like an F1 car built from Lego (I saw it at the Renault stage in Paris this autumn), or a Formula-E showcar.

I was also impressed by the hundreds of racing helmets, the most valuable ones (all used by world champions) were presented in glass cages before the shelves.

The stage of Artcurial is impressive, but I found a more remarkable collection this year at the private collectors’ stages (some four EB110s, and about a dozen GT1 homologation and race versions and many more).

A non-partisan yet active car-maniac.