Vintage Cars At The Rétromobile Auctions Made Paris Even More Beautiful Last Week
Photography by Federico Bajetti
As you may know, Rétromobile was last week, and if you aren’t aware of the massive event that takes place each February in Paris, it’s basically the best place to be if you’re looking for some exceptional vintage cars to purchase, and the dizzying amount of them makes for the best window shopping experience you’ll find anywhere. At the Paris expo Porte de Versailles, dreamers like me walked around 68,000 square meters of exposition halls filled with more than 600 examples of history’s best motoring. And for all the collectors out there wanting to add a rare piece, there are three important auction appointments not to be missed: RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, and Artcurial.
Though the city was covered in heaps of snow this year it didn’t dissuade anyone from attending, and the RM sale in the stunning Place Vauban was a packed house on Wednesday night. A wide range of four-wheeled masterpieces went under the hammer, including a Ferrari 166MM and an ex-Johnny Hallyday Iso Grifo A3/C, but it seemed like the selection of rare modern hypercars was the drawing a lot of appreciation, a trend that’s been more and more prominent over the last few years. A Bugatti Chiron went for 3.3 million euros, while its ancestor, the supremely square EB100 SS, earned a healthy 1.1 million
The following day saw me heading to the Grand Palais to check out the machinery assembled for the Bonhams Auction. The sale this year had over 130 vehicles in the catalog, with the highlight being 19 lots from the European collector Jacques Vander Stappen, with his beautiful and rare Minervas selling for well above their pre-sale estimates. Also drawing a good deal of attention at the Bonhams sale were some prominent historic rally cars like a 1986 Lancia Delta S4 in the famous Martini scheme, as well as the tamer 1988 Delta Integrale Group A car, however both went unsold despite plenty of people surrounding their area through the course of the day.
Keeping up with the rally theme, it was interesting to note the Fiat 124 Abarth Rallye Groupe 4 car that sold for more than 170,000€, a hefty sum for a car that never achieved the same kind of fame as its Italian relatives. And at the Artcurial auction buyers were treated to some excellent examples of the sport’s homologation special hatchbacks like the bulbous Renault 5 Turbo and the other mud-loving bulldog from France, the Peugeot T16.
The wide range of vehicles on offer here covered just about all periods in automobile history besides the rally selection too. From early, antique-level classics from the 1900s, to legendary sports car models such as the Porsche 904 GTS, to the modern cutting edge kit like the Ferrari FXX.
At the end of a lot of paddle activity, auctioneer rambling, and exercises of patience in taking unobstructed photos of the beautiful cars, I left Paris with a few new dream cars on my list, a few new friends, and plenty of memories that are only making it harder to wait for the spring thaw and the chance to see masterpieces like these in action again!