6 unusual suspects from Bonhams’ 2022 Paris sale
Bonhams will host its Les Grandes Marques du Monde à Paris auction on February 3, and the cars crossing the block are nothing if not eclectic.
You can of course expect the usual high-end metal (and carbon-fiber): a Bugatti EB110 GT, for instance, as well as a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, a hugely tasteful Ferrari 550 in Verde Inglese, and even a selection of vehicles from the early days of motoring.
But scroll down the lot list and another grouping emerges: The oddballs. From replica racing cars to a one-off roadster and an Aston Martin that’s somewhat more practical than the norm, these are our picks of the less-usual suspects at the upcoming Les Grandes Marques sale.
1995 Sauber C9 “BMW M1” Group 5 replica
You’ve probably heard of the BMW M1, and probably heard of the Sauber C9, which twice won the World Sportscar Championship. That the two were ever combined is more of a surprise, but that’s exactly how this BASF-liveried replica was conceived when it was built in Switzerland.
It’s not, if we’re being frank, the prettiest of race cars, even though both the original BMW M1 and Sauber C9 racers are spectacular lookers in their own right. With M1 styling stretched over a prototype carbon-fiber C9 chassis, it’s certainly unique—the original C9 racers used an aluminum structure.
The engine too you won’t find in either the M1 Procar or a factory-spec C9, since this car is running a 5.9-liter Chevrolet V-8 making more than 628 hp. It’s a real hodgepodge then, but pending a mechanical check-up it’s said to be ready to return to racing, and carries an estimate of 200,000 to 300,000 Euros (approximately $225,000 to $337,600).
1974 Mercedes-Benz SLC Paris-Peking replica
However unlikely something might seem as a racing candidate, somebody, somewhere, has probably raced it. The Mercedes-Benz SLC of the 1970s is case in point, designed very much as an elegant cruiser but competing with no small success in off-road endurance rallies in period.
This SLC, with a 150,000 to 200,000 Euro estimate (~$168,000 to $225,000), isn’t one of the original rally cars, and was instead built for a private collector in 2016. SLC Racing in Slovakia built a 450 SLC donor car to the same specification as the original works cars, up to and including an expensive Reiger suspension system capable of handling the most challenging terrain.
Judging by the condition of this car it seems to have barely seen a layer of dust, let alone far-flung dirt, but it would be a fabulous way of tackling a rally like the Paris-Peking. A relaxing companion too, since it maintains the donor’s automatic gearbox—juxtaposed with an enormous hydraulic handbrake lever.
2015 Volkswagen XL1
Volkswagen’s eco-supercar is one of the more remarkable models launched in the 2010s. The production-ready conclusion of a project that began with former Volkswagen boss Ferdinand Piëch’s desire to build a “one liter” car (that’s 1 liter of fuel per 100 km, around 235 mpg), the XL1 made its debut at the Qatar motor show in 2011.
History has already rendered it something of a likable folly. XL1s are indeed ludicrously efficient, unique to drive (a combination of pure electric power and a two-cylinder diesel engine), remarkable to look at (with gull-wing doors and a teardrop shape), but also wildly expensive to service and somewhat compromised by their dedication to fuel economy.
This XL1 is rarer than most in its Sunset Red paintwork, and is thought to be the 59th built from a production run of 250. Its original owner has only added 405 km to the clock which, given they cost around $130K when new, has made it a very expensive way of being fuel-efficient, particularly with an auction estimate of 75k to 95K Euros ($84,500 to $107,000).
1993 Aston Martin Virage shooting brake
The internet goes wild for a longroof conversion, so what would people have made of the Virage shooting brake had the web been more widespread back in 1993? It’s likely that opinion would have been mixed, with some simply praising its existence, and others questioning its somewhat-brutalist lines.
Not that the base Virage 6.3 was subtle, particularly given its choice of powerplant: a bored and stroked version of the standard 5.3-liter Virage producing 450 hp. Aston Martin Works built a run of seven shooting brakes on an existing Works project, the Virage four-door, with a 12-inch increase in wheelbase over the more familiar coupe.
This particular one is known as “Vacances,” since its original owner, a German client, used it to go on his holidays. It also features a further power bump, to 468 hp, and even has a manual transmission. Bonhams does say the car—with its 150,000 to 250,000 Euro estimate (that’s roughly $168,000 to $281,500)—may need recommissioning before use.
2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S
If this Porsche 911 Turbo S doesn’t look quite right to you, then give yourself a pat on the back. The auction doesn’t list a specific figure, but the car is sitting on a rare factory option of raised suspension, apparently requested by the original owner for greater comfort on long journeys.
We’d be surprised if there weren’t a little more to that story—maybe those long journeys also contain a few unpaved roads—but given we’re now seeing “Safari”-style prototypes of the latest 992-generation 911 circulating the Nürburgring, you might call this 991 ahead of its time.
Other than that, and a fetching shade of British Racing Green paintwork, you might think there’s not much more to this Turbo S, but there’s one final thing you can’t see: an odometer showing 333,000 km, or 206,916 miles. That must make it one of the highest-mileage 991s in existence. Bonhams lists an estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 Euros (about $67,500 to $90,000).
1996 Opac Più Roadster
If you’re familiar with Fiat’s Barchetta of the 1990s then you’ll know that under its svelte skin you’d find the platform of the contemporary Punto. Well this cute Opac Più Roadster is what you’d get if you applied the same treatment to the Peugeot 106, and it’s the only one in the world.
Displayed at the Turin motor show in 1996, the Più was built by Opac, a company typically contracted by other manufacturers to build soft-tops and prototypes. The car was based on a Peugeot 106 XSi but clothed in a typically 1990s bubble-like body and with a custom interior (albeit using some familiar 106 parts).
The current owner discovered the car while researching the Lancia Hyena, with some body panels on the unique Delta-based coupé produced by Opac. The Più was apparently in a rough state and had never been registered, but has since been brought back to running order—and its rarity is reflected in a 40,000 to 60,000 Euro estimate (roughly $45,000 to $67,500).