Artcurial’s Rétromobile auction always looked like being the pick of the 3 big Paris sales last week and so it proved, as a stunning 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta sold for €16,475,000 to become one of the most expensive pre-war cars ever.
The Alfa went to auction with a €16-22m pre-sale estimate, by some distance the highest of the several hundred cars auctioned last week, but it still had to find a buyer.
And, with its Dutch owner sitting in the front row, this stately Italian classic duly did sell, to a private collector from the United States.
This Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta was bought for only a few thousand in the 1970’s
As well as now being officially the 17th most expensive car ever to sell at auction, this 8C has quite the story behind it.
The fastest production car built before WWII, just 5 of the long-nose machines received striking coachwork from Touring, and s/n 412024 was one of them.
Stabled with the same family for the last 40 years, its 1st owner is not known, brought to the UK in 1939, the ultra-rare machine promptly went about winning a host of concours events, as well as featuring in Motor, before moving to France in the ’60’s, then the Netherlands in 1976 where it was bought for the equivalent in today’s money of around €11,000.
It went to auction as a stunningly original, unrestored, used but well-maintained machine, something of a rarity in itself, given the modern appetite for restoration.
More to the point, it’s reportedly still a thrill to drive, though whether its new owner will want to risk it is another matter entirely.
Serenissima Spyder hasn’t been driven since 1966 Le Mans
Artcurial also served up several other big stories.
Chief among them was the sale of a 1966 Serenissima Spyder for €4,218,800 more than 3 times its estimate of €1.3-1.8m!
One of only 2 Spyders built for the track by Count Giovanni Volpi’s Serenissima team, it contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and has remained entirely untouched since it crawled into the pits during that race. It’s not even currently in running order, which makes that €4m price tag all the more remarkable.
Two other Serenissima cars also sold at the auction: a 1967 Agena made €441,000 and a 1968 Gaia GT went for €453,000.
The Bugatti trio were all barn-finds
The sale of 3 barn-find Bugattis was another highlight. The trio were found in a ramshackle garage in Belgium, together with a 1920s Citroën, and they had been stored there virtually untouched for close to 60 years.
A 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet by Graber was the most expensive of them, selling for €500,600, in the middle of its pre-sale estimate – while a 1932 Type 49 Berline made €196,700.
Perhaps the most impressive performance, though, was the 1929 Type 40, which changed hands for €190,700 almost twice its lower estimate. Given that it went to auction part-way through a restoration started decades ago, that is not a bad price.
Porsche 916 prototype (top), Isetta 300 (left) and VW Combi all caught our eye
Other notable sales included that of a 1971 Porsche 916 prototype which went for €953,600, a 2009 Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss Edition which made €2,617,200 and a 1964 Ferrari 250GT/L ‘Lusso’ at €977,400.
Another Alfa also sold for big money – although with a final price of €977,400 the 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Roadster Corsica did not quite match the £14m 8C.
A collection of lovely microcars: Renault 4CV ‘Jolly’ by Ghia, BMW Isetta 300 and a pair of Messerschmitt KR200s among them, they found new owners, and we also loved a fantastic 1964 Volkswagen type 24 Combi which sold for a massive €143,000.
By Marc McLaren
Paul Ebeling, Editor