Retromobile, one of the best classic cars shows in the world, takes place in Paris later this week. Tickets are only EUR14, so if you haven’t got anything else to do this weekend, it’s well worth the trip down.
Among the various goings on is RM Auctions’ annual sale at the event. As ever, they’ve managed to uncover some very special cars to sell, so here are best that will be crossing the block.
1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta by Touring
This is desirable enough as it is; possibly the best grand touring chassis and engine of the late Thirties, clothed in one of the most beautiful bodies ever made. But this example has a rather colourful history to go with it: this particular car was given by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to his mistress, Claretta Petacci. After the couple were executed at the end of the war, it was seized by the Italian authorities and found its way to an American Major. It went through a number of owners in States before returning to Europe. A full restoration, including a rebuild of the 110bhp, Super Sport-spec engine, was carried out by marque specialists in 2001. This will walk into all the best concours and touring events. Estimate: EUR1,900,000 – EUR2,400,000
1957 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe by Ellena
The Ferrari 250 GT range is slightly bewildering, but even so, most agree that the 3.0-litre V12-engined machines remain among the finest grand tourers ever built. As such, the value of most 250 GTs has galloped ever upwards for years. Yet some get curiously left behind. The examples bodied by Carrozzeria Boano (now known as ‘Ellenas”) haven’t caught up with those by more storied names. That probably has a lot to do with the styling, which is slightly gawky from the front, and a bit American from the back. Still, if you can live with that, they are a relatively affordable way into 250 GT ownership, and are no less capable than all the others. This one has been prepared for fast road use. Estimate: EUR375,000 – EUR450,000
1969 Porsche 911 S
The 911 is the single most successful racing car in history, but this example is particularly special. It’s one of the first batch of six cars built by the Porsche factory specifically for rallying. Driving for the works team, Pauli Toivonen and Martti Colari took this very car to victory on the incredibly tough Acropolis Rally. Through a succession of subsequent owners, it had success in long-distance races and rallies, and contested the Le Mans 24 Hours three times, though it failed to record a result. In fighting-fit condition, it’s eligible for pretty much every major historic race and rallying event. Estimate: EUR1,100,000 – EUR1,300,000
1977 Lamborghini Countach LP400 ‘Periscopo’
We live in the era of the million-pound Countach. It took a couple of decades, but collectors have finally taken an interest in the Gandini-styled icon. Early ‘Periscopo’ cars like this gorgeous example are most in demand. Only 150 were built and, perhaps more importantly, it is the Countach in its purest form, before it sprouted wheelarch flares and spoilers. This example was originally sold to Australia, and has upgraded suspension from the later LP400S. Estimate: EUR1,130,000 – EUR1,450,000
Here’s a pair of exceptionally rare Bentleys: a 1939 4.5-Litre ‘Honeymoon Express’ Coupe by Park Ward, and a 1955 R-Type Continental by Franay. The 4.5 was built for the Earls Court Motor Show, with decadently stylish coupe bodywork. Unusually, it was strict two-seater with luggage space behind the seats – hence the nickname. It was intended as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz 540K, a transcontinental express to blast down to Monaco in the days before private jets. In its day, the R-Type Conti was the fastest four-seater in the world. This is one of only five cars bodied by French atelier Franay, and the only one in this exact style. It was fully restored 20 years and remains in highly usable condition. Estimate: 4.5 – EUR600,000 – EUR725,000; R-Type – EUR660,000 – EUR720,000
All images courtesy of RM Auctions