7 glamour rides of the 1950s we’ll be watching in Paris
Paris is the most glamorous city in the world, and for many people, that’s reason enough to enjoy the city. When it comes to the collector car world though, the annual Rétromobile show is the main attraction for vintage car obsessives. While this year’s event has been postponed from its traditional February date to June, several auctions are still holding sales. Several examples of 1950s glamour vehicles stood out to us as prime luxury machines in which we”d happily cruise around the city of lights before making our way through the French countryside. Here are seven cars that fit the bill:
First, we have an unusual 1955 Chrysler ST Special coupé by Ghia. The Italian coachbuilder teamed up with Chrysler in the 1950s to create many impressive show cars. Dodge, Plymouth, De Soto, and Chrysler all got at least one. While this 1955 Chrysler ST Special offered by Artcurial, with an estimate of €200,000 to €300,000 ($246,000 to $368,000), has been in storage for a long time, it also wears a slightly trimmer design than a 1955 Chrysler 300. However, given those 300s have a condition #1 (Concours) value of $108,000, the ST Special by Ghia is a reminder that style doesn’t come cheap.
If you want a British take on an American design, rather than an Italian take on one, the 1954 Bentley Continental R by H.J. Mulliner is a fine choice. Inspired (probably) by the fastback 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe, the Bentley Continental R is one of the fastest (120+ mph) and now one of the most valuable four-seaters of the era. With only 208 produced, Artcurial has a claimed one of 23 left-hand drive examples built with a floor-shift manual (a 20 percent premium, according to our data). The lot has an estimate of €1,400,000 to €1,800,000 ($1,720,000 to $2,210,000), which brackets the condition #1 value of $2,100,000.
Before the 911, Porsche made big waves with the 356 sports car. The rear-engine German eventually could be ordered in a variety of body styles and numerous engine configurations, but the 1952 Porsche 356 Coupe by Reutter, offered at RM Sotheby’s auction, carries many vestiges of the original design. The bumpers are still mounted to the body, and the windshield is a split-screen V-shape. Wearing dark green paint and with minimal ornamentation, this 356 is a splendid example of 1950s car design at its most distinguished.
Not well known in its namesake land, the 1955 Lancia B24 Spider America is much better known in France. Any car Brigitte Bardot took a liking to would be. Artcurial doesn’t have her car, but with fewer than 250 produced, it pays not to be too choosy. With an estimate of €675,000 to €750,000 ($829,000 to $921,000), it is approaching the condition #2 value of $1,050,000. With just three owners from new, and the last having kept the car for 40 years, this exceptional relic of 1950s style must be tough to let go.
Lancia might have been at the cutting edge of 1950s design, but Alfa Romeo wasn’t far behind with its twin-cams-in-everything product line. The 1957 Alfa Romeo 1900C Coupé by Touring, offered by RM Sotheby’s, is an example of the class and sophistication teeming within the Milanese marque in those days. Wearing the most desirable three-window Touring designed coupe body, this 1900 has the desirable floor-shift configuration and is thought to be one of fewer than 200 that survive. While no estimate has been posted at the time of writing, the model has a top-condition value of $425,000. We’ll be watching this looker closely.
While some automakers of the 1950s only sold their glamorous cars to the ultra-wealthy, Mercedes-Benz recognized it could do well by selling a car to the slightly less well-off that looked similar to its star-power 300 SL. The 190 SL might not have had its big brother’s race-bred performance, but it had some resemblance to the Gullwing. Bonhams, which is holding its sale in Paris in March, has a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL in the classic silver-over-red combination. With an estimate of €80,000 to €110,000 ($97,000 to $130,000), those figures encapsulate the condition #2 (Excellent) value of $117,000. For those keeping score at home, that’s about one tenth the price of a 300 SL roadster.
Last on our lovely list is one of the best examples of marrying fun and style. The 1958 MG MGA 1500 Roadster offered by RM Sotheby’s is one of just over 100,000 that were built. Replacing the more upright MG T-series, the MGA sported integrated fenders and long curves, all in a relatively affordable package. With a Concours-quality value at $42,300, the MGA remains true to its original design brief—especially in this company.
Like this article? Check out Hagerty Insider, our website devoted to tracking trends in the collector vehicle market.