Artcurial’s once-annual Rétromobile event returned to the Porte de Versailles this past weekend, bringing with it the excellent and offbeat collector cars that Rétromobile is known for. I say “once-annual” because this event, alongside Rétromobile itself, suffered from COVID-related delays and schedule changes since 2020. This was the first time back for this Euro staple, but the delay didn’t hamper enthusiasm for the lots on offer.
The Basics: €37.8m / $41.7m in total over three auction days, 82% of the lots on offer sold.
Artcurial achieved nine world records here, along with six lots over €1m and 13 others over €500k. The company offered over 170 lots here, this year presented via video rather than moving lots across the physical block — but with 45% of the sales total coming from foreign buyers who weren’t physically in the room, that change wasn’t relevant.
“This spectacular sale, producing multiple records, illustrates how strong collectors’ desire is to acquire pieces of history, bringing us together in our shared passion for the automobiles that have always made us dream!” said Matthieu Lamoure, Artcurial Motorcars’ Managing Director. “After a two-year absence from this international show, what a pleasure to orchestrate a sale in front of a packed saleroom buzzing with excitement!”
We’ll have in-depth coverage in the next issue of Linkage, but in the meantime, here are five lots from the sale you should know about:
1996 Ferrari F50
Sold price: $4,619,022
One of 349 built, this one with one owner and 1,300 km from new. Said to be in “near new” condition, with no visible wear or other issues noted.
The price paid here was a record for an F50 at auction, which I think highlights just how strong the market is for blue-chip supercars right now.
The F50 lives in an interesting place in Ferrari history, in that it has modern looks and feel while also being very analog underneath — not a bad combination. These cars were built with a bunch of F1 technology, but they also had the naturally aspirated V12 mounted amidships and a gated manual shifter — both throwbacks to the icons of the Enzo era, and key components in the formula for big money today.
While the F40 was the poster child of the era, the F50 is much less common and offers greater performance — namely a 4-second faster time around Fiorano compared to the F40. In this case, the price paid was indeed a new record, but I don’t expect it to hold for long. This is a high water mark on a climbing trend.
1968 Porsche 907
Sold price: $4,872,971
A short-tail 907 with complete ownership history from new. Nice restoration. Was in the Ernst Schuster Collection for nearly 40 years. International racing history includes 4th at the Nurburgring 1000 Km in 1968, and three runs in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970, 1971 and 1972, among many others.
There aren’t many Porsche 907s out there — just 21 were built overall, generally as 910-spec racers with a much more slippery body for better aero performance in both long- and short-tail versions. Other changes included suspension arrangement, designed to give a variable suspension rate for the 907 compared to the 910. When FIA rules changed to allow 3.0 liters, Porsche shifted into the 908.
This one benefited from both condition and provenance alongside its rarity, and its status as a legit Porsche sports racer from the golden age of international endurance racing. It was going to be expensive — the question was just how expensive.
The last 907 we saw at auction was at Gooding’s Amelia Island auction in 2014, which was a long-tail version (s/n 907-005) that sold for $3.63m. That car was the first Porsche to win a 24-hour endurance race, and had top-five finishes at Monza and Sebring. Considering that, as well as the market for Porsches in general right now, this price makes sense for an example with fantastic history and condition.
1957 Bandini 750 Sport Internazionale Saponetta
Sold price: $707,815
Competition car built and raced by Bandini. Ex-Mille Miglia 1957. 747-cc engine makes 68 hp at a whopping 8,500 rpm, but thanks to light overall weight makes this a competitor to OSCA, Siata and other low-production and small Italian sports racers of its era.
There just aren’t that many Bandinis out there, but this is exactly the kind of place where you can expect to find one for sale. In this case, there were a handful of examples available, all from the Bandini Collection.
“Saponetta” is the nickname that Ilario Bandini himself gave this car, referring to its body shape, which was like a little bar of soap, designed to maximize the car’s slippery nature on higher speed circuits, where it found success in the U.S.
This car is said to be one of two that ran the Mille Miglia in 1957, and is also recorded as having been raced by Bandini himself with later, larger engines. According to Dino Bandini, who found and bought the car in rough shape in the U.S. in 1998, it’s the only one of the two Mille Miglia cars to have its original engine.
What’s something like this worth? Well, it set a new record for a Bandini at auction, and considering the history and the restoration work completed, I’d say that was the proper result, even at a mid-estimate valuation.
1978 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40
S/N: BJ40 26469
Sold price: $112,457
One of seven numbered examples rebuilt by Teseven Toyota Classic in France to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary. Well built, but not completely stock, with an added roof tent, off-road lights, winch, and 3-point belts. Teseven included a one-day off-road training course with this Toyota, as well as an introduction to the mechanicals and maintenance of the vehicle.
So you thought truck and SUV prices shooting to the moon was just an American thing? Think again. Here we have the analog of the FJ truck that RM Sotheby’s sold for big money this year in Monterey — same story, different builder, different location.
The utility and fun that comes along with something like this can’t really be denied — there’s nothing ostentatious about a classic 4×4 rig out playing in the dirt, and just about everyone can get into the fun — provided they’ve got the right truck and the right mindset out of the gate.
When FJ prices started to climb into the six-figure range a few years back, you could have called this an outlier. But it’s just become the norm these days — so much so that companies (such as Teseven, the FJ Company, even Gateway Bronco for Fords) are able to build production versions with modern parts and maintain enough blue sky in the margins to stay viable. With that in mind, we can call this less of an outlier and more just business as usual — but notable that it’s a global trend, not just a local one. They sold a similar version at Rétromobile 2020 for $125,910.
2003 Lamborghini Murcielago
Sold price: $277,834
Blu Hera example sold new in Monaco and featuring only 10,905 km from new. Manual gearbox. No visible wear.
Say what you will about yesterday’s supercar and the power of depreciation. It’s just not always going to go the way you think it might.
Low miles are nice, and so too is the notion of something like this tooling around Monaco for the low miles that it did cover from new. The key here, however, is that manual transmission — one of the last built by Lamborghini before the modern era brought double-clutch automatics into the fray. Some buyers — particularly those who aren’t new to the hobby — see the value in that third pedal, and they’ll pay more for examples with it. I can’t say I blame them.
Before you call this out as the top of the market, however, consider this: BaT sold a similar version in December 2021 for $344k, another in January 2022 for $311k, and another on Feb 16 for $300k. All were 6-speeds. This one was a deal.