10 hot race cars to watch at the 2020 Paris auctions
Last week we highlighted some of the most fascinating road cars bound for the Paris auctions in early February. As usual, there is also a sensational roster of race cars bound for the various sales surrounding the Rétromobile festival. Motorsports diehards and history buffs alike will be awash in competition-tested metal—distributed across three major auction houses—from some of the biggest names in racing. Let’s take the plunge into the 10 race cars we’ll be focusing on most during the Paris auctions.
1934 Talbot AV105 Brooklands Sports Racer
Bonhams, Lot 234
The elder statesman of this list, this neon track veteran has a compelling competition history and is eligible for several top-tier motorsports events.
Following the 2.3-liter Talbot 90 that ran successfully in racing events around the world during the 1930 season, the 1931 AV105 boasted a 3.0-liter engine, developed by designer Georges Roesch, which was also lighter and featured larger valves presented in a staggered layout for improved breathing. After multiple seasons of success, the AV105 also competed in rally racing, winning the Coup des Alpes in 1932. A team of three Talbot AV105 works entries with modified four-seater bodies, known as the “BGH” cars because of their registration numbers, won the race again in 1934 and are regarded as the ultimate iteration of Roesch’s design. The only other competition car Talbot built to this specification was this one, known as “AYL 2.”
Original buyer Dr. E.J.H. Roth ordered AYL 2 with a body slightly more optimized for road racing, and he managed a victory at Brooklands in April 1935. For the following year it got a new ERA body and larger 3.3-liter engine to run at Brooklands, unfortunately without much success. It was reunited with its original body in 2010, after which it would claim several rally and race victories, including winning Plateau 1 at Le Mans Classic in 2012 and the Flying Scotsman in 2013. AYL 2 was fully overhauled “from stem to stern,” according to Bonhams, after the 2018 season, with invoices totaling more than $100,000 (80,000 pounds). Now it’s ready to get back on the track.
RM Sotheby’s, Lot 171
This will be RM’s most significant sale, and potentially one of the highest-dollar transactions across all the auction houses in Paris at this year’s event. For good reason, too—this is the seventh customer Jaguar D-Type built, and it was raced in period with contemporary track records at the Bathurst 500 and the Rob Roy Hill Climb, along with a victory at the Bathurst Road Racing Championship in 1956. Bearing chassis number XKD 520, this car received a new factory-supplied 3.8-liter straight-six to replace the standard, less-powerful 3.4-liter engine used on early examples. It was used sparingly in a few events since then, and it has been kept in excellent working order and with a high degree of original componentry—save for a period-sourced replacement nose bonnet fitted in 2004.
D-Types, having won Le Mans in 1955, ’56, and ’57, will always be in high demand. With that said, the top sale for a D-Type is the 1956 Le Mans-winning Ecurie Ecosse long nose at $21.78M, and this car in Paris won’t come close to matching that number. For reference, RM Sotheby’s previously sold D-Type #XKD 250 in Paris, six years ago, for about $5.05M (€3,696,000).
Artcurial, Lot 99
As the successor to the Ferrari 250, the 275 had major shoes to fill. The 3.3-liter Colombo two-cam V-12 was familiar, but Ferrari endowed the 275 with its first independent suspension for a road car as well as a rear-mounted transaxle. Unsurprisingly, the stout 275 GTB coupe made for a dazzling race car, as well.
Although Artcurial’s example—chassis #6785, equipped with six carburetors that helped produce 300 hp from new—is not a factory competition car, it has a ton of competition pedigree. It is among the most raced 275 GTBs on the planet, with over 40 international appearances in period, including a victory at the 1966 1000 Kilometers of Monza in the GT class. In that race, amidst a downpour of rain, #6785 triumphed over several other Ferraris as well as a Porsche 906 and no less than seven Ford GTs.
Given this history, and the fact that $2M is roughly our #1-condition (Concours) value for a regular 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB coupe road car, we’re a little surprised Articurial’s estimate isn’t higher. “Four-cam road cars and alloy-body two-cam road cars have sold for near and above #6785’s high estimate,” observes auction editor Andrew Newton. “It’s worth noting that, this 275 was apparently damaged after going off the track in 1967 and then again damaged when its transport truck overturned and the car fell into a ditch.”
1966 Porsche 906
Artcurial, Lot 83
Speaking of the Porsche 906, Artcurial has one on offer in Paris as well. Oh, and it’s unrestored and never wrecked—another bonus. The 906 is beloved among Porsche fans for its 911-based flat-six and remarkably light weight. The car’s construction was the handiwork of a young Ferdinand Piëch, who would go on to Audi and later become CEO of Volkswagen Group and chairman of the board. Porsche remained competitive with the 906 throughout the second half of the 1960s following its debut in 1966, and its success led to the development of subsequent Porsche endurance racers that led to the 917 and beyond. The striking Shell livery that this example, chassis #906-115, wears now was added in the early 2000s, and it looks absolutely excellent.
Other Porsche race cars like this Daytona-winning 907 Longtail and 908 development car are probably worth more (they’re #24 and #25 on the overall list of most expensive Porsches ever sold at auction), so we don’t expect #906-115 to break any records with this sale. Nonetheless, this is a great car that any Porsche or motorsport fan would be thrilled to add to their collection.
1966 Ferrari Dino 206S/SP
Bonhams, Lot 253
Ferrari intended to build at least 50 examples of the Dino 206S to compete in Group 4, but the V-6-powered race car ended up racing in the 2.0-liter Prototype class instead when only 18 examples were produced. Sports-prototype (SP) specification included bare-bones, lightweight Spider or Barchetta bodywork, as seen here. The 218-hp engine is a 65-degree 2.0-liter V-6, with single-plug ignition and either triple Weber carbs or Lucas injection.
Dino 206s were known for their success in Italian hill climbs, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bonhams’ example, chassis #022, indeed has the hill-climb competition chops a buyer would be looking for, with numerous victories in the 1970 season alongside a second-place class finish in the 1970 Targa Florio. It has been in the same collection for 36 years, since 1984, which means this car is well-known but fresh to market.
For reference, Gooding & Company sold this Dino 206S Spider at Pebble Beach back in 2015 for $2.31M, but Bonhams’ example bound for Paris this year has a more impressive racing pedigree, which is reflected in the estimated price. We’ll be interested to see at what price the hammer drops.
1967 Serenissima 3000SP
Artcurial, Lot 105
Giovanni Volpi raced Ferraris under the banner of Scuderia Serenissima in the early 1960s, a gig that suddenly evaporated when Volpi ran afoul of Enzo Ferrari by funding a company run by a bunch of ex-Ferrari engineers who departed the Prancing Horse on less-than-ideal terms.
Serenissima opted to produce its own cars, including the 3000SP (chassis #MK 168-001) headed to Artcurial’s Paris sale. ATS, the company Enzo so resented, built its own 3.0-liter, four-cam V-8, which McLaren also employed in its M2B F1 car, and Serenissima paired this powerplant with a McLaren Can-Am chassis and a fiberglass coupe body. #MK 168-001 finished second in a race in Sicily before receiving this bizarrely sharp, geometric body composed 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 ceased operations.
Serenissima’s former chief mechanic overhauled it mechanically a couple of years ago to prepare it for competition. Show up to the track, and you’re pretty much guaranteed never to see another 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.
1978 Rondeau M378 Le Mans GTP
Artcurial, Lot 106
It isn’t that widely known, but Rondeau won Le Mans in 1980 with Jean Rondeau swapping stints with fellow Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, ahead of a Porsche 908/80 (and another Rondeau). Although not a household name, Rondeau was highly present in endurance racing throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, and the 1978 M378 was the car introduced Rondeau to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. An evolution of the Inaltera design that Jean Rondeau first built for the GTP class in 1976, the M378 had a more advanced tubular structure than its predecessor and a 410-hp version of the same Cosworth V-8 engine. The first of Rondeau’s racers, #M378/001, would go on to race at Le Mans 10 times, finishing fifth overall in 1979, third overall in 1980, and second overall in 1981. The sleek machine totaled 19 races from 1978–88, with appearances at Spa, Brands Hatch, Monza, and Hockenheim.
Rondeau #M378/001 last sold in Monaco in 2012 for €358,400, and another Rondeau sold in at the 2014 Paris auctions for €212,800. Since then this example has been totally restored “at great expense,” according to the listing, and the engine was rigorously tested in early 2019. For Rondeau fans, this is very much the car that started it all, and there’s no question it’s the most famous and pedigreed example of the marque. Also, look at it tearing up the track:
1983 Ferrari 126 C3
Artcurial, Lot 98
1983 was a good season by Ferrari standards, especially following the untimely death of Gilles Villeneuve in the 1982 season. Patrick Tambay won at Imola and Arnoux won the Canadian GP, German GP, and Dutch GP. Arnoux was third in the Drivers’ Championship and Tambay fourth, while Nelson Piquet was Drivers’ Champion driving for Brabham-BMW. Ferrari won the Constructors’ Championship, beating Renault by 10 points, 89 to 72.
Later in the season, at the British Grand Prix in July 1983, the V-6-turbo-powered 126 C3 debuted and became the first Formula 1 Ferrari with a carbon-fiber shell. This chassis, #068, got second in the Austrian GP, driven by Arnoux. It would be #068’s only race, according to the book Ferrari, The Grand Prix Cars, but there is a conflicting account from the site Formula One Register and the contemporary publication Auto Hebdo, which suggests Arnoux also drove #068 to victory in the Dutch Grand Prix. For the remainder of the 1983 season, it would be used as a reserve car. When the C4 replaced the 126 C3 in 1984, #068 was sent to Ferrari importer in France who kept it until 2001, when he sold it to collector Michel Hommell, who displayed it at his museum in Lohéac, Brittany.
No doubt that with some work, it would be entirely possible to get this all-original 126 C3 in track-ready condition for any number of vintage motorsports events. It’s possible #068 will command above its $1.11M high estimate, if BH Auctions’ recent 1987 Ferrari F187 sale is any indication—the ’87 sold for $1.73M and was less successful in competition than #068, the car crossing the block at Paris.
1987 Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo Evoluzione A1/IMSA Spec
Bonhams, Lot 286
This angular-shaped Italian looks like nothing else on this list, and if any race car crossing the block in Paris will appeal to the Youngtimer crowd, this is the one to watch. Packing a modified version of the stock 155-hp Turbo model’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder, albeit optimized for tuning and power upgrades, the 75 Turbo Evoluzione received major chassis and body upgrades to make it competitive in FIA Group A racing.
This example that Bonhams is presenting, chassis #026, was delivered for competition to Italian team Top Run Racing before being sold on in 1991 to Euro Magnum Automotive Racing and entered in the Dutch championship. The Dutch team opted to convert the Evoluzione to IMSA specification for competition, and later it would enter into the Dutch Alfa Romeo Challenge. It competed in several races at European tracks in the early 2000s—including Spa, Nürburgring, Vallelunga, and others, before taking part in the 2016 Vernasca Silver Flag hill climb. Bonhams indicates the car is in solid working order but recommends that it be thoroughly evaluated and checked before competition use.
1993 Jaguar XJ220 C
Artcurial, Lot 113
In case you forgot, the Jaguar XJ220 was the fastest production car in the world when it debuted in 1992. (Then, well, the McLaren F1 happened.) And aside from the outrageous and generally hysterical Fast Masters XJ220 series for motorsport retirees, Jaguar’s definitive 1990s supercar also competed at the world’s biggest racing stage—Le Mans. This particular XJ220 C (for competition), chassis #003, was built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans two times, in 1993 and 1995. At its first outing, chassis #003 was leading the GT class with five hours to go when a tire burst and sent the car spinning off track. In the mayhem, the engine temperature got too high, and when the car returned to the pits the mechanics discovered that the cylinder head gasket had cracked. That was it. Le Mans in 1995, too, ended in mechanical failure.
In that 1993 race, XJ220 C chassis #002 actually ended up finishing first in its class, but the car was later disqualified for not running catalytic converters. Chassis #002 is arguably the ideal racing Jaguar XJ220 to have; when it last came up for public auction, it went unsold at Bonhams New Bond Street 2018 auction with a £1.8M high bid (about $2.3M).
XJ220 C #003, headed to Paris, has not raced since it bowed out of Le Mans in 1995, but after its acquisition by a Japanese enthusiast it benefitted from a complete and total restoration. It’s in exceptional condition today, and a stellar example of Jaguar’s Le Mans run in the 1990s.
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