8 eccentric cars up for auction in Paris

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front three-quarter Bonhams

January’s collector car auction calendar is all about the massive sales in Kissimmee and Scottsdale, but when February rolls around we look across the pond to Paris, where a group of auctions take place in conjunction with the Rétromobile classic car show.

There are always significant  high-dollar cars for both road and track there; but the Paris auctions are also fun to watch from afar because we see tons of off-the-wall European cars, some of which we’ve never heard of, and find out what prices they notch. 

After perusing the lineup of this year’s Paris offerings, we found these eight particularly unusual cars up for grabs in Paris next week.

1947 Julien Type MM5 2cv

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Artcurial

Presale estimate: $6615–$13,231 ( €6000–€12,000)

Yet another automotive flash in the pan, Société des Automobiles M.A. Julien burst onto France’s postwar car scene with a prototype in 1946 but didn’t even make it to 1950. While the MM5 was the company’s production model, there can’t be more than a handful left today, and this one is in mostly-complete project condition, including its original proprietary Julien 310cc four-stroke single that is “not seized,” according to Artcurial. It’s not pretty, but it’s kind of stylish with its fat front fenders, suicide doors, and enclosed rear wheels, which have a narrower track than the fronts. RM sold a restored one in 2015 for $54,625.

1955 Moretti 750 Gran Sport Barchetta

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Peter Seabrook / RM Sotheby's

Presale estimate: $165,390–$220,520 (€150,000–€200,000)

Moretti started as a motorcycle manufacturer in 1925, built electric trucks during World War II, and stayed afloat from the late 1950s until the ’80s building special bodies on other platforms, mostly Fiats. In the early ’50s, though, Moretti proudly eschewed Fiat engines and made its own stuff in-house, including a sophisticated 748cc twin-cam screamer with dual Weber carbs and over 70 horsepower. The Moretti 750 wore several bodies over the years, and racing versions did well in small displacement classes on both sides of the Atlantic. 

The Moretti up for grabs in Paris this year is apparently one of three with this aluminum Barchetta bodywork and the only one with a round tube chassis rather than a boxed one. It raced on the U.S. West Coast in the 1950s, underwent restoration years later, and appeared at Pebble Beach in 2002, and has since run the Le Mans Classic and the Mille Miglia Storica. The radiator almost looks bigger than the engine itself, and the nifty side exhaust looks to have the diameter of a reusable straw. The body also kind of looks like a waterbug, but it’s got to be a blast to drive and it’s eligible for some great events. RM Sotheby’s offered it in Monaco two years ago, but it hammered not sold with a high bid of €145,000 (roughly $172,500).

1952 Dyna-Veritas Cabriolet

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Dirk de Jager / RM Sotheby's

Presale estimate: $44,104–$66,156 (€40,000–€60,000)

Veritas means “truth” in Latin, but it was also the name of a short-lived German carmaker that built a reputation in the postwar racing scene with cars powered by the old BMW 328. It even competed in the German Grand Prix twice, but the company didn’t last long and shut its doors in 1953. Veritas built expensive performance cars for the road like the Scorpion and Saturn, both of which were advanced for the ’40s but neither would win any beauty contests. This car up for sale in Paris, meanwhile, takes the styling cues from those cars and shrinks them down into a cuter but still strange-looking little thing.

Since racing costs money—a lot of money—the Dyna-Veritas was the company’s attempt to fund its racing activities. Intended to be a volume seller, it utilized a front-wheel-drive layout with the air-cooled twin from the Panhard Dyna, hence the name, and came as either a coupe or convertible. According to RM Sotheby’s, just 176 were built before the company called it quits, and as few as 10 of them are left. This one has been restored to very high standards, it seems, and is also the “Sprint” model—with an earth-shaking 38 hp. 

2016 Zagato Mostro Coupe

rear three-quarter doors up
Bonhams

Presale estimate: $661,560–$992,340 (€600,000–€900,000)

A throwback to the 1950s and a celebration of Maserati’s centenary, the Mostro (“Monster”) wears a carbon-fiber Zagato body meant to emulate the old 1957 Maserati 450S Coupe race car that has the same beastly nickname. Maserati unveiled it at Villa d’Este in 2015 and all five Mostros built sold immediately. 

Like the original Mostro, the 21st-century version is more at home on a track but can, technically, go on the road. The engine is the familiar Ferrari-developed, 4.2-liter Maserati V-8 but has been fitted with a dry-sump system and makes an estimated 460 hp channeled through a six-speed semi-automatic transaxle. Suspension is by double wishbones, front and back. The Mostro’s looks aren’t monstrous at all and do a great job of emulating the look of the original car without copying it—at least, until you see that gigantic tacked-on rear wing. Fortunately, it can be removed. The one up for grabs at Bonhams has reportedly covered less than 1000 km (621 miles) with its first and only owner and is essentially still a new car. 

1967 BMW-Glas 3000 V8 Fastback Coupe Prototype

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Bonhams

Presale estimate: $265,910–$385,910 (€250,000–€350,000)

Bavarian carmaker Glas is primarily known for building adorable microcars like the Goggomobil and the larger, sportier 1300 and 1700 GT coupes, as well as for pioneering the use of timing belts on an overhead camshaft engine. Those timing belts caught the attention of the folks at BMW, who bought Glas in 1966. Some of Glas’s existing model line continued with a BMW badge for a short time until being phased out, including Glas’s range-topping 3000GT, a V-8 coupe designed by Pietro Frua. 

Frua also penned this car, crossing the block at the Bonhams Grand Palais sale, as a possible replacement for the 3000GT. It was on the stand at the Frankfurt and Paris shows in 1967 as well as the Geneva Salon in 1968, painted a different color each time. It was well-received—and with those looks, how could it not be—but BMW went ahead with its own E9 line instead and killed off the Glas range for good by the end of the ’60s. The one-off Glas-BMW fastback, which you wouldn’t even know was a BMW apart from a few badges and the tiny twin-kidney grilles, was then sold to its first owner in Spain and restored about five years ago. RM offered it in Villa Erba five years ago, but it didn’t sell.

1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II LWB by George Barris

side-view
Artcurial

Presale estimate: $88,208–$154,346 (€80,000–€140,000)

A Silver Cloud is usually a pretty dignified way of getting around, but George Barris could make any car weird, and this Rolls looks like it should come with a fur coat and cane rather than a suit and tie. Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor sent this long wheelbase Cloud II to Barris’s shop in 1978 to prepare it for display at that year’s Auto Expo in Los Angeles. And Barris certainly had his way with it, covering the car in gold paint and adding 24-carat gold plating over the chrome, engraving the windows, fitting a special cutout in the trunk for a spare wheel, and inscribing “Zsa Zsa” on the door. It’s probably the least subtle thing for sale in Paris next week.

1965 Ghia 1500 GT

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Artcurial

Presale estimate: $66,156–$110,260 (€60,000–€100,000)

Based on the Fiat 1500 sedan, the Ghia 1500 GT sold (mostly in Europe) from 1963–67 in small quantities and with no Fiat badges to be found anywhere. It has cool details like hidden door latches, twin cooling vents behind the front wheels, a tapered rear with a Kamm tail, chrome trim around the grille, and a generally pleasing fastback shape penned by Sergio Sartorelli (who also did the VW Karmann Ghia Type 34, the Fiat 126, and a one-off Maserati 5000GT). 

German magazine Auto Motor und Sport called the Ghia “an eye-catcher without equal,” and this one is a restored example with unusual and quite rare two-tone paint. With 846 built and far fewer left today, these cars hardly ever come up for sale, but a rough project car sold on Bring a Trailer last year for $30,750, and last year Bonhams sold a recently restored one in Belgium for €71,300 (about $78,000).

1967 Serenissima 3000SP

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Artcurial

Presale estimate: $1.1M–$1.5M (€1.0M–€1.4M)

Founded by Venetian Giovanni Volpi, Scuderia Serenissima raced Ferraris in the early 1960s, and times were good. Then Volpi had a problem. He started financing a little company called ATS, run by several ex-Ferrari engineers who did not leave on good terms. Enzo Ferrari was not a man you crossed, and he refused to sell Serenissima any more cars. 

Instead of turning to another carmaker, Serenissima built its own cars, including this one. Volpi’s company built its own 3.0-liter, four-cam V-8, one of which McLaren used in its M2B F1 car, and Serenissima mated this engine with a McLaren Can-Am chassis underneath a fiberglass coupe body. It finished second in a race in Sicily before getting this odd, angular body made out of riveted “Avional” steel and a three-valve head for the engine. It raced competitively but didn’t win anything major before Volpi lost interest in racing and Serenissima closed shop. 

The team’s former chief mechanic overhauled it mechanically a couple of years ago so it would be ready to race (or close to it), and it’s practically guaranteed to be the only one on the grid. Artcurial sold three Serenissimas last year, including the team’s 1966 Le Mans Spider (€4,218,800, or about $5.16M), a 1968 Ghia-bodied coupe (€452,960, or about $554,000) and a 1967 prototype road car called the Agena (€441,040, approximately $540,000). According to Artcurial, only two other Serenissimas are known to exist, this 3000SP being one of them.

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