On Wednesday, 4th of February 2015 was held the second RM Auctions sale in Paris during the Retromobile week. We had attended the sale last year and had been impressed by the very nice display of cars offered by Rob Myers Auction House but had been quite surprised of the auction results, which had not been as high as we expected, and certainly not as enthusiastic as the typical american auctions organized by the company. Our report of last year’s RM Auctions Paris sale is here if you want to check it out. Nevertheless, it was not without a certain excitement that we attended this second edition, still during the first important automotive week of the year. Text : Bertrand D., Romain D., Mickael B. © Images : Mickael B., Luca W. ©

The first lot that we stumbled across were the two Ferrari engines offered for sale, a F121A V8 experimental motor Number 00002 (Lot 102), which was sold just shy over 38’000 €, and a 1997 Formula 1 V10 engine, Number 361 (Lot 105) that achieved a final price of 58’500 €. The F121A was an experimental 2 litre twin-turbocharged engine that never went to the broad light, developed by the legendary Nicola Materazzi, whom you might recall for developing as well the Lancia Stratos, the 288 GTO, the mighty F40, and the brutal Bugatti EB110. Lot 105 was Eddy Irvine’s 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix engine, where he finished 10th. Whilst this might not illustrate a strong history enough to make it valuable enough upon the most enthusiast collectors, it was believed that it had been fitted later on to Michael Schumacher’s Formula One, although without any proof. Still, which petrolhead does not dream of having a Formula One engine in its living room, especially one from Ferrari ?

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Which petrolhead does not dream of having a Formula One engine in its living room ?

Last year, Rob Myer’s Auction house had offered a Lamborghini Countach wireframe sculpture by Benedict Radcliffe, and had chosen to put up for sale two frames. The first, lot 101, was a Ferrari 166 MM which history was not very clear. Supposedly built more than 40 years ago by Giancarlo Guerra, the man behind Ferrari’s most legendary car, the 250 GTO, and a former employee of the Scaglietti workshop, which seemed strange considering the 166MM was originally designed and built by the Carrozzeria Touring. It finally sold for 20’475 €. The second wireframe was a 2006 Ferrari 248 F1 sculpture, which was withdrawn from the sale. Back at the time, Ferrari had finished on the second place of the Formula 1 Manufacturer’s World Championship, with Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa behind the wheel.

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Lot 108 was a Double Bubble Fiat Abarth 750 GT Coupé by Zagato, probably one of the cutest cars you will ever see. This 1958, 48 horsepower mini car had just undergone a complete restoration in 2005, and was equipped with a Mille Miglia specification engine. It was sold for 75’600 €. There were two Ferrari Dinos offered for sale during this Paris auction. The first one, lot 116 was a 1972 red 246 GTS, which had had only 58’000 kilometers on its odometer and two owners from new, including famous pilot Jean-François Vaney and was equipped with a Stratos-specification engine, number 10172. This rather singular Dino, chassis 04714, was easily identifiable thanks to its unique feature, a scoop on the engine bonnet, and achieved a final price of 286’000 €. Up next we stumbled across lot 128, a 1969 Maserati Mistral 4.0 litre Coupé, a chassis and engine matching number example, which had been nicely preserved. The Mistral 4.0 litre was the last model to be equipped with Maserati’s six cylinder engine, which received here a Lucas direct injection and a five-speed gearbox. This particular example was sold for 173’600 €.

A rather unique Dino with a Stratos-Spec engine, and a controversial looking scoop on the bonnet…

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Then we found ourselves face to face with the 1957 Ferrari 250 by Ellena Coupé of the Sale, lot 168, which was sold for 403’200 €. Chassis 0755GT was the 1958 Chicago Auto Show Car and the 17th High Roof Ellena built, of only 50 cars in total. Restored to be driven, and fast with Colombo’s 3 litre V12 number 2963, it was quite a bargain considering its general rarity for such a 1950s Ferrari.

AC Ace Bristol, 1957, 224000 €, chassis BEX 266, engine 100 D 595, 120 hp 2 litre six cylinder, four speed, last long boot AC model, delivered in Hawaii, recently restored with an original D engine but finely tuned for improved performance.

A room full to breaking point, seats reserved for bidders, really nice displayed cars, welcome with Champagne… The extraordinary atmosphere of the RM sales has been there this evening, even if some cars wasn’t in a irreproachable state or with strange details. That’s probably why many lots were sold under their estimated price. Despite that, 82% of the lots has been sold and 5 cars exceed €1.000.000. Surprisingly, The red Countach Periscopio, delivered by Valentino Balboni himself to the first owner (and present for the sale) wasn’t sold.

The two highlights of the auction didn’t sell neither, two pre-war cars. The first one was a 1935 Delahaye 135S, that raced at Le Mans in 1937, 1938 and 1939, estimated 1 200 000€-1 600 000€. This car changed body several times during its racing life, which could explain the fact it didn’t find another owner.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport by Touring : Dictator Chic

The second one was a very special 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta bodied by Touring. This particular car is a modern interpretation of King Louis 16th coach : It was used by Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci to escape Italy in 1945. But on their road to the north, an Italian recognised them, and they were arrested and killed. It was then bought by an US Army officer who brought it back to New York aera in 1949 and used it ten years before leaving it. It changed owners and started a restoration several times, before being completely restored during two years to be ready for the 21st Century. The car is, according to RM Auction, 85-90% original and has entered classic car events such as the Louis Vuitton Serenissima Run in 2012.

Maybe the fact this car was ordered new by a dictator has something to do with the fact that it didn’t sell, but the highest bid was not far from the estimation at 1.8 million euros. The duo formed by Max Girardo and Filippo Lotti is captivating, they use gestures and words with a rare dexterity and charisma. I’m convinced that some bidders are respective to their stimulations. It’s a show in the show and a precise interplay. Filippo was THE revelation of this sale : flamboyant, vivid, funny… It’s explosive ! And it works.

The most expensive car sold was a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso (chassis #5085GT), in its original condition, who fetched 1,624,000€ (including commission), which means an incredible 223% evolution of the value for this model, compared to the one sold by RM at Villa Erba in 2011 for 504,000€. The other cars sold above the 1 million euros barrier were a superb 1965 apple green Iso Grifo A3C Stradale with a rivet body, sold for 1,036,000€, another Ferrari, who has increased a lot during the last two years, an F40, chassis #87990, sold 1,176,000€. And two German cars close the « 1 million + club », a 1963 Fire Red Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, with factory disc brakes and aluminium engine block, sold for 1,232,000€, and a 1964 Porsche 904 GTS, completely restored, sold 1,428,000€, pretty much the same price as the green 904 RM sold last year in Paris.

The interest for the Aston Martin DB5 is confirming, as the model presented at the sale, finished in a wonderful dark blue over beige interior, matching the withewall tyres, matching numbers with original air conditionning, sold for 840,000€. Underdogs Ferraris are rebelling by increasing their value as fast as they accelerate : a 1972 Dino 246 GTS sold for 286,000€, a 1972 365 GTC/4, with its Daytona engine an four seats (nobody wanted them for 70,000€ three years ago despite these qualities) sold for a crazy 224,000€, and a 1989 Testarossa fetched 168,000€. We can also note that the two Lancia Aurelias, a B24 S Convertible and a B24 Spider America, did not sell, although they were in great conditions, compared to the black Aurelia B24 Spider America « barn find » sold last year by RM for 800,000$.

The next sales (and particularly Villa d’Erba) are already announced in a top level (Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta by Touring, Lancia Stratos…) and without doubt the RM reputation will shine again ! To finish, we’ve recently learn that Sotheby’s took 25% of RM Auctions, becoming « RM Sotheby’s. We bet that this will reinforce their reputation and that RM Auctions will get bigger.

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