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We’re in the midst of exhibition season with the epic Rétromobile approaching fast. As has become tradition, the Paris exhibition also hosts the vast Artcurial Motorcars auction. As always, they have assembled a true potpourri of drool-worthy classic cars – many of them from the very heavy end of collector car heaven. If you have the means, they are all up for grabs…

Granted, many of us don’t have the means. But should that keep us from dreaming? Absolutely not!
So go ahead – dive into their auction catalogue: Artcurial Motorcars at Rétromobile
Daydream, imagine and fantasise all you can muster – that is after all still free of charge…
We at ViaRETRO did the same and came up with the following:

Søren is bidding on these two for his fictitious garage:

Lot 100 – 1955 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Allemano/Zagato

When Zagato drew the lines for his interpretation of the Maserati A6G in the mid-1950s, it was with such equilibrium that it turned out as nothing less than art. It’s the most beautiful thing that has been created on four wheels, in my eyes anyway. The low sweeping roofline, the big mouth in front and the delicate, yet simple curves behind. It’s the highlight of sports car design, and the like will never see a production line again. Maserati’s small inline six-cylinder engine belongs to my favorite constructions – again a piece of art. This isn’t just about performance, but more about excellence. The purchase will drain the money reservoir seriously, but we will simply have to cut back on the Flemish paintings instead.

Lot 16 – 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet Vanvooren

With the Maserati A6G already in the shopping cart, my next purchase must be of a completely different nature. As my age has passed 50, I’m ripe for a serious piece of automobile – the script on the badge can only spell out “Bugatti”. No automotive brand is bigger than the French nobility. You would have to search long and hard to find so much craftsmanship and innovation gathered in one place. I sense that I’m finally ready to take up the challenge, and drive a car from 1938. The driving sensation will no doubt be an acquired taste, but with time and familiarity behind the wheel, I am certain that it will be an outright pleasure. Look closely at the old car – a sight for sore eyes!

Claus is bidding on these two for his fictitious garage:

Lot 47 – 1970 De Tomaso Mangusta

I am no longer alone in admiring the Mangusta – and all this new-found interest has driven prices north! I’ve always liked rarity and with just 401 built, the Mangusta qualifies. And then there’s the design. From 1967, just one year after the Miura. But the Mangusta makes the hailed Miura look old and outdated! I always thought it deserved much more credit. Sure, it’s engine is nowhere as exciting as the exterior, but the good old Ford 289 delivers a solid punch. And maybe it’s not that important anyway, as the Mangusta is rumoured to have fairly poor handling characteristics. But in that colour, I can just sit and look at it all day.

Lot 54 – 1974 Ferrari 365 GT4 BB

Initially I had decided to bid on the absolutely fabulous Ferrari 250/275 P racer – the actual winner of Le Mans 1963. But then I realized I would probably not drive it enough. Instead I settled for another old dream car, an early Berlinetta Boxer: A proper road car of immense capability, comfortable enough to be really useable and not least a very fine stablemate for my newly acquired Mangusta. This Boxer just had a mechanical overhaul at the cost of 74.000 Euros, so I enter our relationship in the belief that nothing more can go wrong. And it’s even in the best colour for a Ferrari: Not red.

Anders is bidding on these two for his fictitious garage:

Lot 35 – 1965 Porsche 904 GTS

Just look at it! No further justification for choosing this Porsche should be necessary. To my eye, no other sports car comes even close to matching the 904’s perfectly sculpted and oh-so feminine curves. There is a prettiness to the 904 which is perhaps at odds with its purposeful and pure race breed reason-for-being, but this only adds to the appeal. Low ownership, a perfectly documented history and impeccable race history makes this example the one to have. With both a 4-cylinder and a 6-cylinder engine included, you can choose freely between speed or authenticity. My entry ticket for Tour Auto!

Lot 112 – 1969 Lamborghini Espada Series 1

With the 904 secured for the egoistic early Sunday morning blast across twisty backroads, I’ll need something for proper grand touring as well. Maybe even with the whole family on board. Is there a more stylish way of achieving that than with an Espada? No, there is not. And this particular Espada is simply off the scales on ultra-coolness! For starters, it’s a Series 1, which means I get the funkiest dashboard design in the business. Then there’s the bright orange paintwork. Oh, and then there’s the Miura alloys from Campagnolo. It’s a statement – It’s perfection.

Dave is bidding on these two for his fictitious garage:

Lot 98 – 1968 Abarth 1000 SP barquette

115 bhp per litre, a tubular chassis and weighing only 500kg, it’s got the right homologation papers and a Targa Florio history where in 1969 some lunatic took it to 16th overall. It’s from the days when racing cars were still properly dangerous. Look at the cooling slats, the single wiper, a cockpit like a fighter jet. It is absolute function with an accidentally elegant form. The whole thing oozes purpose and it sounds like a megaphone full of wasps. Best of all, the period photographs are credited to “Actualfoto” so it’s definitely all real.

Lot 63 – 1953 Citroën Traction 11BL Fourgonnette 450 kg

Old commercial vehicles are cool (undisputed fact) and this is one of the best. It’s an excellent stealth van as it takes a second look to recognise the converted bodywork, but it’s no home-made lash up. The load bay is lined and it’s got a mesh bulkhead just like a modern van. We’re looking at serious practicality here and it would be rude not to add to the patina. If I’m having the Abarth I’ll need a service van, and best of all being a commercial it could be offset against my tax return (probably). What’s not to like?

Dear reader, will you be attending Rétromobile in Paris between Wednesday the 7th February and Sunday the 11th February? More importantly right now, will you be at Artcurial’s smorgasbord of an auction on Friday the 9th February?  Whether that’s a yes or a no, doesn’t really matter – go ahead and indulge on those dreams, while you share with us which two classics you’ll be adding to your fictitious garage…

And remember, just in case Artcurial’s 254 lot catalogue didn’t include your dream classic, or if you’re on a proper buying spree and want more than what they have on offer, there are two other major auctions in Paris during Rétromobile. While neither of these are held within the Rétromobile venue, RM Sotheby’s have 84 lots up for auction at Place Vauban on Wednesday the 7th February, and then Bonhams follow up with another 137 lots at The Grand Palais on the Thursday the 8th of February.
If you are indeed planning on bidding during Rétromobile, start of by having a thorough read of ViaRETRO’s analyses of the classic car market only last November: The Current Temperature of the Classic Car Market

All pictures courtesy of Artcurial Motorcars.

11 Responses

  1. Dominic Temple

    Personally I’d have the DB4 and the 356 Carrera Cabriolet. The DB4 because it’s achingly beautiful and the 356 because of it’s motor. Those twin-cam Carrera engines are spectacular.

  2. Tony Wawryk

    My superior other half tells me I spend far too much time trawling what she calls “car porn sites”, and this post is just feeding my habit! The cars that attract my attention the most are those I grew up with ie from the 60s and 70s, ones I recall being thrilled by as a young boy/teenager, though I’m far from immune to the charms of cars from other decades. The higher-end auctions in particular trigger the most unrealistic dreaming, and this one is doing plenty of that to me.
    I have to say that you 4 have shown admirable restraint in limiting yourselves to two cars each, though I bet it wasn’t easy! Like Anders, I love the 904 – it’s just beautiful, with a hint of Ferrari 250LM from the A-post backwards. When I first visited Porsche’s then-tiny museum in 2008 (before they built the fabulous one they have now – if you haven’t been, go the first chance you get, and then hit the equally fabulous MB museum), a silver 904 was discreetly displayed there and I must have stared at it for ages. The only other Porsche that matches it for beauty for me is the 906.
    Anyway, I’ll join in the game and my two choices – after much deliberation and changes of mind, and trying not to duplicate the choices above (but that 904…) – would be the Carrera 2.7RS and the Alpine Renault 1600 SC “Black Tulip”. That both are rear-engined is a co-incidence. The 2.7RS is for me the ultimate 911 and therefore the ultimate road-going Porsche, and I love the yellow/green script colour scheme on this one.
    The Alpine takes me back to the first time I saw one in Germany in the early 80s, in the small town of Langenau where many of my “rellies” (Claus!) live. It’s just so compact yet dramatic and made an ever-lasting impression on me, as did the noise it made. They’re most commonly blue – as that one was – so the “Black Tulip” has additional appeal for it’s rarity.
    Runners-up were the Iso Grifo, Facel Vega and that stunning 328…erm, actually…

  3. Anders Bilidt

    Some sound choices there Gents!

    Dominic, it’s more than just a little difficult to disagree with a DB4 and a 356 Carrera, and your reasoning as solid as can be.

    Tony, the “Black Tulip” A110 had me terribly tempted too. Such a great little car! And I must confess that the Grifo was runner-up for me, only narrowly beaten by the Espada because of the rear seats which offer great usability when there are still two kids living at home.
    As for the Porsche 906 you mention – yes, please! But I have to point out the 908 too then. In the original closed-cockpit version with the short Kamm tail, that too is a painstakingly beautiful race car!

  4. Tony Wawryk

    Anders, not only was the 908 gorgeous, just about ALL 60s and 70s sports race cars look better than anything from the last few years – Lola T70, Ford GT40, Porsches 906. 908, the mighty 917, Ferrari 250LM, 312P, and 512, Alfa Tipo 33, Chapparel 2 (especially the 2F with it’s huge rear wing)…those were undoubtedly the days….

  5. Anders Bilidt

    Couldn’t possibly agree more Tony! And while we’re at it, don’t forget the Matra’s. For closed-cockpit it’s got to be an early MS620, while open-cockpit goes to MS650. I know everyone raves on about the MS670, and for pure performance and drama, I see why. But for looks, the MS650 is just so organic and sexual!

  6. Jesper Jensen

    For me it’s quite simply impossible to pick only two among all those beautiful cars:>)

  7. Dave Leadbetter

    Another “nearly” vote for the Black Tulip Alpine, unusual to see one that’s not either blue or red. Interesting how I’m the only non-Dane yet I ended up choosing the only Danish car… that Citroen isn’t wholly French built.

  8. Jesper Jensen

    I believe that the Citroën is the one that Fritz Hansen participated in building – or perhaps even built alone by himself:>)

  9. Anders Bilidt

    Dave, due credit for trying so hard to fit in with the rest of the editorial team!
    There’s still hope you might make a good Dane someday… ;-)

    The Traction Fourgonnette is indeed a very historically important car seen with a Danish enthusiasts eyes. Jesper, I’m quite sure that you are right about it being connected with Fritz Hansen. To me, it seems a real shame that the Citroën will now most likely leave Denmark…

  10. Jesper Jensen

    Mind you, though – I’m not quite sure if it’s the one Fritz built – but as far as I know they were a special danish phenomena – and very few were built.


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