RETROMOBILE 2020

Marc Sonnery

Volume 45 Issue 05

Mar 14, 2020

  Despite the market not being very dynamic it was a superb edition with a mind-boggling quantity and quality of cars on display; perhaps the best to date.

    On Sunday 9th February, the 45th edition of Retromobile closed its doors, having brought together 620 exhibitors and more than 1,100 vehicles, spread over 3 halls and more than 800,000sf of space. This year, 122,000 people attended the world’s ultimate indoor classic car show at Paris Porte de Versailles exhibition center.

    Despite the market not being very dynamic it was a superb edition with a mind-boggling quantity and quality of cars on display; perhaps the best to date.

    Media evening on Tuesday opens the show and without the crowds, you see and recognize people from afar. Noticed in the aisles were two four-time Le Mans winners: Henri Pescarolo, who competed there in a Ferrari 512M “F” in 1971 and Yannick Dalmas.

    Two-time Le Mans winner Gérard Larrousse, former F1 driver Thierry Boutsen, three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti were also seen.

    The most important Ferrari on display was the 330 P4 S/N 0858 on the stand of Franco Meiners. Whatever you think of its rebody from CamAm version, a heated debate amongst various factions of Ferraristi, it is a stunning sight. It was rebodied under the auspices of David Piper while owned by John Collins of Talacrest.

    One very welcome surprise on the same stand was a blue 166 MM Berlinetta, S/N 0048 M. Sold new to Italian Angelo Biemmi of Brescia, it was used in a good number of races by him and several other successive owners in its homeland with a 3rd overall at the 1952 10 Hours of Messina and a class win that year at the Bologna Raticosa Hillclimb with Giulio Musitelli driving.

    In 1955 it went to Switzerland and after one Geneva owner it passed into the hands of the legendary Edgard Jeanmairet who was an active mechanic and garage owner in Geneva. He raced it himself once in 1956 winning his class at the Verbois hillclimb.

    He had shown me photos of this very car in 2007 so it was special to see it. Very special in fact because after one more owner the car fell into decay and sat for several decades, totally derelict and apart, in the infamous exotic car junkyard of Pierre de Siebenthal north of Lausanne which I had visited in the 80s without noticing this car. Finally an Italian bought it in 1995 and it was totally restored, superbly so.

    Another star Ferrari was the 1969 312 P S/N 0872; it has just had a full two-year rebuild in the capable hands of the Edi Wyss workshop near Zurich, Switzerland, led by the dynamic Thomas Schnitzler.

    This is one of just three built and two remaining chassis; S/N 0868 having been destroyed at the 1969 Monza 1000 Km by Pedro Rodriguez, while S/N 0870 has been in the Bardinon collection since 1970.

    Of course that collection is now impounded by judge’s order until the lawsuit about the sale of 250 GTO S/N 5573 is sorted out.

    I actually met Jean-François Bardinon in the alleys of the show, he is the one along with his sister Anne, suing their brother Patrick, for selling that GTO as being his own which they contest. I wished him luck and a speedy conclusion but he rolled his eyes; clearly a major headache that will take some time to sort out.

    Speaking of headaches, S/N 0872 had been dismantled by Wayne Sparling for Chinetti when the latter could not obtain a 312 PB, which the factory refused to sell to privateers.

    After S/N 0872 was used with a minimalist body, Sparling went one step further and created a lookalike 312 PB tub and used the engine and components such as suspension off S/N 0872 for it.

    Called the flying shingle it actually finished 9th at Le Mans 1974 with Andruet and Zeccoli. For many years S/N 0872 did not exist in its original form due to this separation of the parts. Through a succession of owners in the Northeast starting with Carle Conway, Paul Pappalardo and then Peter Sachs, all parts were reunited and the latter showed it reassembled after years of effort at the 2003 Cavallino Classic. In 2007 it was bought by Swiss Arnold Meier for whom experienced Brit David Franklin campaigns it.

    The Sport et Collection/500 Ferraris Against Cancer stand displayed a 512 BB/LM, S/N 26685, with its famous sky, clouds and birds livery as raced at Le Mans 1979 by Ballot-Lena, Leclere and Gregg.

    Swiss Lukas Hüni always stuns in Paris with his stand display and did it again. This time with the awe-inspiring 1935 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo SF48 Bimotore.

    Yes sir, that means twin-engine, one each fore and aft of the pilota, need we say, the molto brave pilota. This epic beast was Alfa’s response to the domination of Mercedes and Auto Union and was the fruit of the bold Luigi Bazzi, Scuderia Ferrari’s technical director.

    The driver was thus sandwiched between two Tipo B 3,165 cc engines producing a mammoth 540 hp theoretically trouncing the Teutonic opposition...but the problem was weight and extreme tire wear.

    Two were built. The great Tazio Nuvolari was called to race one at Tripoli. The Mantovan took the lead...then had to pit for shredded tires after just three laps.

    Chiron came fourth there and second at Avus where again Nuvolari shredded more tires so the idea of racing it was abandoned.  But Tazio had a last date with it: on the Florence Lucca highway he set a speed record of 362 km/h, yes that’s 226 mph in 1935...

    One car was scrapped while this one sat for years in the famous and now closed Donington Museum in the UK, before being bought by a European collector.

    An interesting and rarely seen model was also displayed by Hüni, a 1951 212 Export S/N 0128 E, one of 27 built. This one, in competition tune, went to an important early client for Ferrari in the days when they sold very few cars, Robert C. Wilke of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    It was his first model from Maranello and many others were to follow. The car was later owned by Ken Hutchinson from Illinois who kept it 31 years until 1995 after which the car ended up in Europe but it still has its historic Illinois plates.

    As if that wasn’t enough, Hüni also showed one of the 20 SEFAC Comp 250 GT SWB alloy cars, S/N 2845 GT. This one was raced by Count Volpi’s Scuderia Serenissima and came third at the 1961 Tour de France with Trintignant/Cavrois. It was restored by Carrozzeria Brandoli, under supervision of the Ferrari Classiche program in 2006-2009 in its dark red SSS racing livery.

    There I met noted collector and judge Californian, Bruce Meyer; he has been coming for decades and like many others could not believe the quality and variety of exhibits this year.

    London-based Scotsman Gregor Fisken always gathers some amazing cars and showed a 1966 275 GTB/C Competizione, S/N 9027, sold new to Jacques Swaters’s Ecurie Francorchamps in Belgium.

    Just days after the June delivery, Claude Dubois and Pierre Noblet drove it to 10th overall at Le Mans, 2nd in the over 3-litres GT class.

    That same month it was driven by Lucien Bianchi to a class victory in the Mont Ventoux Hillclimb in the south of France. In August it led the Marathon de la Route at the Nürburgring in the hands of Bianchi and  De Keyn but after 72 of the 84 hours it was crashed.

    Sometime later it was on a truck that crashed as well. Then when raced by Brits McNally and Nelson at the 1967 Monthlery 1000 km near Paris, it had its third incident.

    It had one more, poor thing, at the Prescott Hillclimb in 1970 but after that its life was pain free but  hectic as it was owned by a veritable Who’s Who list of major collectors across the world such as Dermanian and then Peter Sachs in the USA, Blatzheim, Ibing and Werner in Germany, Matsuda in Japan, who displayed it in his museum in 1995, Sir Anthony Bamford in the UK, who exercised it around his private lakeside circuit in Staffordshire and Jean Pierre Slavic by another lake, that of Geneva in Switzerland.

    It was then sold at the 2004 Bonhams Monaco auction where it was bought by Irvine Laidlaw where it ran  the Tour Auto four times. It changed hands once again via an RM auction in 2013 before being restored in 2017-18 by Ferrari in Maranello, duly being certified.

    On display, borrowed from the Mulhouse Motor (formerly Schlumpf) Museum was the 1972 German GP winning 312 B2 with which Jacky Ickx scored his last and one of his greatest victories.

    A surprising addition to Fisken’s stand was a 2001 550 Maranello Italtecnica GT1 racer, one of two built that year by the Turin firm for the Rafanelli team.

    It led the Spa 24 Hours driven by Naspetti and Schiattarella. It then went to the J.A.S. Motorsport engineering team and was liveried in Red Bull colors for 2002 before being run by the French JMB Racing team in 2003 with victories in the Italian GT series.

 

    Its last race in 2004 was with Toto Wolff, now head of the Mercedes F1 team. The 550 Maranello was the very first front-engine Ferrari racing car since the 365 GTB/4 “Daytona”.

    It is these private efforts led by the development of Italtecnica which pushed the Ferrari factory, initially reluctant to consider that a heavy GT could be made into a racer, to follow with their own version.

    Max Girardo former head of RM Auctions Europe has been running his consultancy for a several years now, and again had an impressive booth with a heavy Maranello orientation.

    There was an F1 car with a very particular distinction: a 1995 412 T2 which was raced by Alesi in Brazil, Argentina and Imola, but the really significant fact is that it is the very first Ferrari F1 car that the Frenchman’s replacement ever drove: Michael Schumacher.

    The German had no idea how successful the Ferrari adventure was going to be when he drove it first at Fiorano and then Estoril, Portugal.

    To one side of the stand there was a dizzying row of supercars:  288 GTO, F40, F50 all in red and an Enzo in the rare and stunning Grigio Alloy, a silver with an icy light blue hue.

    A 1965 275 GTB/6C S/N 7085 sold new to Count Zanon di Valgiurata was truly arresting to see in white with a distinctive long and thin hood bulge from badge almost to windshield resembling a spine’s protuberance.

    This as well as added side vents and more covered lights under the main ones are not factory original but interesting 1991 additions by the Brandoli workshop between Modena and Maranello, taking inspiration from 250 LM, GTO and Comp 275s.

    Speaking of arresting, nearby sat one Ferrari you did not want to see appear in your rear view mirror in Italy in the early sixties:  one with a siren on its roof. A 1962 250 GTE, S/N 3999 GT, police car. There must have been a lot of volunteers in the squadra mobile to set off on duty in this patrol car.

    The interior is all original and still features the radio transmitter of the ministry of interior. It saw official duty from 1963 to 1968. One wonders if it ever pulled over one of its Maranello siblings: oh, the irony.

    Apart of a black 275 GTS there was yet another prancing horse on the stand: a Michelotto 308 GTB Group B car, S/N 22409.

    Not to be confused with the more common Group 4 version, there were only four Group Bs which had a hotter specification and this is one of just three with the last version of the 4-valve engine.

    Another Scotsman, Geneva-based Simon Kidston, had a stand as well and displayed a 1953 250 MM Berlinetta, S/N 0310 MM, one of 17 built. Its first owner was famous for requesting special bespoke options in his cars: Dr. Enrico Wax of Genoa.

    He made his money importing whisky but was also the importer for Connolly leather. Wax soon sold the car to Frenchman Pierre Noblet who had not thought about racing but was encouraged by friends to try; he loved it and revealed himself to be a great talent. He painted the car blue and did well, winning his first rally, a regional one in December 1954.

    He had several other class wins including twice at Monthlery then sold it in 1957. It later passed through the hands of the Dubbini family in Padova from 1967 to 1998, when it was sold at the first Brooks Gstaad auction to Swiss Peter von Muralt who had it restored, winning Best of Show at the 2000 Bagatelle Concours in Paris.

    A glamorous oro chiaro liveried 275 GTS, S/N 7297 GT was also available. It was sold new by Chinetti to his good client and amateur racer Ed Hugus who had it just briefly. It had lots of US owners before returing to Europe early in the 2000s and being fully restored in Italy.

    New York based German dealer Thomas Hamann had a stand for the first time showing a 342 America PF Speciale, S/N 0246 AL, one of just five made of these very exclusive Ferraris with the formidable Lampredi V12. It made its grand debut as a 1953 Geneva show car and was then sold new to Franco Fassio of Genova, Italy, after which it had a slew of US owners and restorations, often modified.

    Until recently that is, when the respected Brian Hoyt of Perfect Reflections brought it back to correct specifications while the engine was done by Patrick Ottis in nearby Berkeley, California. Its light green livery with silver roof is evocative of the glamorous life it was meant for and it has won its fair share of concours silverware.

    Hamann also displayed an ultra-rare Pegaso, the creation of Enzo Ferrari’s “favorite enemy”, Wifredo Ricart, the two having developed an intense mutual hostility when they both worked at Alfa Romeo.

    It is safe to say Senor Ricart’s fortunes as a manufacturer were the exact contrary of his rival as the Pegaso adventure was short-lived.

    A Bertone exhibit in the remote Hall 3 included the radically angular Ferrari Rainbow one-off designed by Gandini and shown at Chantilly in 2019.

    Non-Ferraris included a baker’s dozen Lamborghini Miuras, six Bizzarrinis including a totally original one and generally every type of European classic imaginable.

    Other noted visitors included Ferrari Beverly Hills President Giacomo Mattioli, authors Antoine Prunet, Marcel Massini, Nathan Beehl, Hillary Raab and Gianni Agnesa, who presented his new book on the 312 Ps.

    Auction companies also had stands: Gooding was present for the first time due to their upcoming London auction, their first ever in Europe/UK though it includes no Ferraris.

    RM Sotheby’s had a stand and was showing a Prodrive built 550 Maranello, S/N 108418. With the car shown by Fiskens and another also for sale make it three: they are now eligible for a new series which explains why they have come out of storage.

    This one was raced no less than 49 times winning 14 times. Its main win being the 2004 24 Hours of Spa with Calderari/Cappellari/Gollin and Bryner.

    There were many dealers, new and old, French and foreign, selling classic production Ferraris, of which there were many.

    Several booksellers were there with new titles and ample stock. The memorabilia on offer is always mind boggling in quality and rarity but seems to get pricier every year, countless scale model sellers offer wares from ancient to new, from cheap to incredibly detailed and pricey, while artists of all kinds using canvas, bronze, etc., were too numerous to count.

    You meet more friends or acquaintances along the aisles from all over Europe and the U.S. till you lose your voice.

    Having spent four days at the show I still felt I had not seen everything and most visitors agreed there was too much to take in, a wonderful feeling of being overwhelmed, shaking one’s head.

    The 2021 edition will take place February 3 to 7.

Retromobile Auctions

RM SOTHEBY’S

    The Canadian firm held its auction on the Wednesday at their now customary site at Les Invalides. There was no star Ferrari though, no star car at all, perhaps due to RM still finding its feet in the old world and the market being soft.

    Thirteen Ferraris and Dinos were on offer including one lot, #130, which was partway through a restoration with all the parts in boxes next to the car; someone ran out of funds, hence the sale.

    A Daytona Spyder was not helped by the non-original color and did not sell. Another Daytona earned its current value.

    The 550 Maranello World Speed Record, one of 33 was an interesting buy.

        Selected Cars

365 GTB/4, S/N 12841. Estimate €450,000 to €550,000. Lot 144. Sold for €522,500.

512BB, S/N 35409. No reserve. €170,000 to €200,000. Lot 135. Sold for €230,000.

550 Maranello WSR, S/N 117411. Estimate €150,000 to  €200,000 Lot 189. Sold for €209,875.

DINO 246 GT S/N 01824. Estimate €300,000 to €375,000 Lot 170. Sold for €325,625.

DINO 246 GTS, S/N 06290, No reserve. Estimate  €275,000 to €325,000. Lot 130. Sold for €263,750.

Scuderia Spider 16M, S/N 168279. Estimate €250,000 to €280,000 Lot 155. Sold for €260,938.

 

BONHAMS

    The Grand Palais, certainly the most stunning location ever to hold a car auction, is awe inspiring. The British auction house had the least Ferraris of all three with nine, but had the star lot of the week: the 206 SP S/N 022 with body inspired by the stunning and triumphant 212E Montagna.

    It seemed to be bid to decent numbers but not enough to sell. Apart from the gorgeous Dino, the most appealing car was the 365 GT/4 2+2, very handsome in dark green with tan but surprisingly there were no takers for what remains the most affordable carburetted V12 model.

    There were quite a few no reserve cars, a US habit that is slowly gaining traction with more reluctant Europeans not as willing to cut their losses.

        Selected Cars

SUPERAMERICA, 146669. Estimate €220,000 to €300,000. Lot 285. Sold for €244,375.

612 SCAGLIETTI, S/N 145751. No reserve. Estimate €50,000 to €70,000. Lot 255. Sold for €51,750.

599 GTB, S/N 151959. No reserve. Estimate €75,000 to €95,000. Lot 254. Sold for €89,700.

308 GTB Vetroresina, S/N 20795. Estimate €140,000 to €170,000. Lot 214. Sold for €128,800.

430 SCUDERIA, S/N 163729. No reserve. Estimate €175,000 to €200,000. Lot 256. Sold for €155,250.

 

ARTCURIAL

    This was the tenth time that the French auction house held its vente aux enchères inside Retromobile (where Bonhams held sway from 2008 to 2010 itself having succeeded Christie’s, who ceased auctioning cars in August 2007).

    The location as well as its scheduling as last of the three to take place has traditionally worked in its favour.

    The Swedish 275 GTB/6C S/N 6785 had ample racing history. The 1983 F1 126C3 S/N 068 was the car in which Rene Arnoux finished second in the Austrian GP and first in the Dutch GP; it sold well beyond estimate.

    A Superamerica seemed to sell at bargain price though. A 208 GTS Turbo sold; these are normally not seen outside the Italian market for which they were created to benefit from the low taxes under two liters.

    Note that selling prices are in dollars at conversion estimated by Artcurial.

        Selected Cars

275 GTB/6C, S/N 6785. Estimate $2.2 million to $3.3 million. Lot 99. Sold for $2.75 million.

512BB, S/N 29823. Estimate $242,000 to $286,000. Lot 67. Sold for $301,658.

SUPERAMERICA, S/N 143794. No reserve. Estimate $253,000 to $297,000. Lot 94.  Sold for $288,543.

599 GTB, S/N 156243. 6-Speed manual.Estimate $264,000 to $308,000. Lot 112. Sold for $309,387.

F40, S/N 84662. Estimate $1.1 million to $1.32 million. Lot 115.Sold for 1.22 million.

126C3 F1, S/N 068. Estimate $660,000 to $1.1 million. Lot 98. Sold for $1.58 million.