27th October 2013

Each year, a local auction house organizes a car auction in Lausanne, Switzerland. At first in Morges and then afterwards in Lausanne at the Palais de Beaulieu, we decided not knowing what were the cars for sale, and without any expectations to attend this 2013 edition of the event. Especially, from my previous year experiences of these local auctions specialized on cars, it is often the good occasion to make some good affairs. Text : Mickael B., Romain D., Images : Thomas Z.


We parked our car in the underground parking of the Palais de Beaulieu and headed for the auction. Just outside, as a nice and unexpected surprise, a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG was parked. The SLS with its 6.3 litre V8 was probably the last naturally aspirated Grand Tourer of the Stuttgart brand, but we didn’t know it obviously at that time. In a very standard configuration, it will surely still be one of the future Mercedes-Benz collector cars, just as much as the now legendary 300 SL. Obviously as we weren’t here to look at the cars outside, we paid the entry fee of 10 CHF per person and entered the Palais. Immediately, we couldn’t help ourselves at a white Ferrari 512 BBi. Although being an injection model and not one of the more desirable carburettor 512 BB, this Ferrari was the true inspiration that lead to the legendary Testarossa. It certainly did not introduced the flat 12 engine, which appeared on the 365 BB, but it helped make an evolution of the design. And I have to admit that although this Ferrari was not particularly in good shape, it was certainly amazing in this colour combination white over beige interior and the beloved aluminum grilled manual gearbox.

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We continued looking for the cars that impressed us the most, but with over 80 different cars for sale the choice was rather difficult. Thus we decided to proceed in order following the lot numbers. Our second car to catch our attention was this Triumph TR3, one of the most typical British roadster. Probably the best looking english roadster, the Triumph TR series had one of the longest careers, with my favorite model being the TR2. Next car to catch our eyes was a typical Group B eighties hot hatch, a Renault 5 Turbo 2. Competing with the 205 Turbo Evo cars during what we can assume was one of the greatest era of rallying, both cars had their road equivalent to compete as well. With 200 horsepower, thanks to a huge turbo, the Renault 5 was just as fast as the Peugeot, but is much more common than the 205 Turbo, and thus less expensive, with an estimated price between 20’000 and 30’000 CHF. This particular example had surely a very original color combination of bright yellow, lime green and white.

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A bunch of Alfa Romeo Spiders were as well for sale, and this 2.0 litre version was one of the last produced, recognizable thanks to its plastic black bumpers. Looking at the other grey Spider it was facing, I had already made my choice if I had to buy one, because I always had found these plastic bumpers as hideous. A black MG TF was waiting for its new owner, and looked like in particular good shape, with a red Opel GT alongside. One of the curiosities of the sale was for sure the Bristol 401 from 1952. This Grand Tourer was built and sold for the Lords of Great Britain, and Bristol has kept this exclusivity since. It was accompanied by another Alfa Romeo Spider, this one being white and another rare car often subject to debate, the Renault Avantime. Built by Matra for Renault, the Avantime had a very strange design, and actually caused the bankruptcy of Matra. It actually sold so badly that several car experts and enthusiasts think it might become one of the future collectors of the french manufacturer.

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Alongside the MG was a classic but intemporal shape, a white Porsche 912, with the beautiful associated Fuchs rim that fits this car so well. Considering the amazing value these cars have been taking recently, no doubt that it would sell very well. With its legendary frog shape inspired from the 911, but a smaller engine it has always been considered as un underdog, and this white livery was no exception. In the background, one of my favorite cars of the sale was a red BMW M3 E36 Coupé, the first generation of Munich’s now mythic sports car with the traditional six in line engine. Considering it was estimated between 10’000 CHF and 12’000 swiss francs, I have to say I hesitated much to bid on this car, but hadn’t just as much money at this time. With its manual gearbox, no doubt that this particular generation, especially in the coupé bodywork will become a future must have, considering the turbo eras arriving. Then we stumbled upon one of the most popular Italian cars of the 1930s, a Fiat Balilla, which looked stunning in this bicolor configuration paint scheme.

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The most expensive lot of the sale was a luxurious Packard convertible estimated estimated well over 200’000 CHF thanks to its particularly good shape. It had just come out of restoration and its owner had decided to sell it straight away. Both the exterior and the interior looked as new condition, but not having the chance to have a glimpse of the mechanics I wondered if the owner had not simply just done a cosmetic restoration for the sale. Then, when we saw what looked like a Porsche RSK, I was very surprised to find such a car in a local auction, but looking at the gross details of the car, it was evident that the cars we had in front of us was just a replica of Porsche’s barchetta, based as it seemed on a simple Volkswagen Beetle… French popular oldtimers were nicely represented at this 2013 Auction of Lausanne with a bunch of Citroen 2CVs, including a rare convertible one, the Renault 5 Turbo 2 we examined earlier, and a few other very interesting car such as this Renault 4. With its sunroof, and beautiful cream white exterior over black interior, and being in impeccable condition, I had little doubt that it wouldn’t find a new owner.

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Another Porsche caught our eyes, with its additional rally front lights and turbo look, this 964 looked like it had been severely modified. It had the Turbo look rear, including the enormous spoiler, but had still its original 3.2 litre flat six engine, and the interior at least remained unchanged, and was in a very good shape. Beside the Renault 4 was another very popular french car, but a pre-war this time, a 1925 Citroen C Type, often called the “Trèfle”. My grand-father used to have one of these, and was only available at the time in the Torpédo bodywork. Then, alongside the Porsche was a typical British shape that I recognized instantly, a Jaguar 3.8 litre sedan. With its timeless shape, and incredible Connolly interior, the 3.8 litre was one of Jaguar’s most popular saloon, and had inherited some sporting elements of the E Type, which made it very fun and dynamic to drive.

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We left the Jaguar and went to see on the other side of the hall what automotive marvels remained. First of all, we found our first muscle car of the day, a 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, one of probably least desirable generation of the Chevy. In fact the eighties and nineties ruined the original muscle car concept, of a very good looking, powerful affordable car, but most of the brands have gone back to basics since 2003 when Ford introduced back the Mustang as we loved it. Still, in this electric blue and black stripes, it was really looking mean. Then we stumbled on yet another Citroen trefle in a much more funky yellow colour combination, with black rims, almost looking like Gaston Lagaffe’s car. This one though, compared to the previous one, still retained its original Citroen badge, wearing the two chevrons with all the proud it deserved.

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Finally, we found another Ferrari ! A 355 GTS. The 355 Berlinetta was Luca di Montezemolo’s first V8 Ferrari after Enzo Ferrari’s death and thus had a lot of challenges to take up, especially after the 348 Tb, which had disappointed much of the brand’s tifosis. With its 3.5 liter V8, and five cams per cylinder developing 380 horsepower, it could rev up to 8500 rpm, an impressive performance back in 1994. It was the last Ferrari berlinetta to have a shape inspired from the Italian’s brand first berlinetta, the 308 and the first to be equipped on option with Ferrari’s F1 simple clutch flappy paddle gearbox.

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This GTS was the equivalent Targa version, with its removable roof and was equipped with the much more desirable aluminium grilled manual gearbox, as well as the Scuderia Ferrari shields on both sides, and the very rare carbon bucket seats. Associated with the Pininfarina timeless design, I was really pleased to see such a great car at this auction. Behind the berlinetta, there were three other interesting cars, an AC Cobra 427 replica, one of the last original Mini Cooper S, with the original Alec Issigonis design and a Lancia Flaminia Coupé.

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Coming all the way from the other side of the Leman lake, a Triumph GT6 had done the travel to come to Lausanne for the sale. Based on the Spitfire, the small typical roadster of the British manufacturer the GT6 was always considered much more desirable thanks to its more powerful straight six engine. Produced at over 40’000 units between 1966 and 1973, it was for sure one of the best looking affordable small sports Coupé. Then we had to take a closer look to another very popular and legendary car, a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, in the beautiful cream white colour combination. This particular model still retained its original interior, seats and had been restored, and had a very nice shape. Especially, considering all the cars which have had modifications, mostly bad, finding a car which still has all of its original parts is starting to become a real challenge.

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Another rare french sports cars, was one of the last Renault Alpine, the legendary racers from Jean Redélé. Although it inherited the philosophy from its stepsister the A110, the A310 never had its success, probably due to its lack of success in racing. Being the first time to step inside one of these cars, we found out it was actually not as easy as it might seem, as the binnacle is quite tight and the driving position was quite decentred. Moreover, in this white over read leather interior, it wasn’t the most beautiful colour combination I had ever seen, but have to admit it was at least an original one, and had the most desirable engine, the. One of the most important competitors of the two Citroen Trefle we had seen earlier was the 1924 Renault NN, originally designed by the french brand to compete against the Citroen 5 horsepower.

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The real muscle car deal of the auction was this second generation 1968 Pontiac GTO. Although looking great it had numerous problems, including a lot of rust, a bad state interior and mechanical parts that didn’t really seem to work correctly. Moreover, it had the 4 speed automated gearbox which was a shame for such a car, as it really deserved a proper manual gearbox. The other very interesting muscle car of the sale was a light blue 1964 Ford Mustang Coupé, with white stripes. Although not being a more desirable Fastback, it had still the 289 cubic inches V8.

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Another Italian popular car was this Lancia lot number 35, with another Triumph TR3 alongside. As well the second 1998 Chevrolet Camaro of the sale was this yellow SS, which looked even more stunning than the blue one we had seen earlier, thanks to its black roof, and associated black rims and inserts. Notice how the side mirrors were integrated in the bodywork, as well as the big rear spoiler. Looking at the interior, I really wondered how such thick and heavy seats could have been sold with a car which was supposed to be one of the most sporty of its generation.

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Facing the Camaro was another Chevrolet, a Corvette C3. These are the cheapest Corvette on the market today, but are still properly fast cars… Thanks to the big V8 and the plastic bodywork this one was estimated between 30’000 and 40’000 swiss francs, a real bargain for such an american legend. Another forgotten american car was on sale a few meters away, a 1955 Packard Constellation Clipper Custom in a very good shape in the traditional light blue and white bicolor combination livery.

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The auction started and as you can see there was actually quite a lot of people. To our great surprise, most of the cars didn’t sell, not achieving their reserve price. We didn’t assist to all the auction because we had some imperatives and headed back to the parking where we found an Audi Quattro just outside the Palais de Beaulieu.