The word “rally” comes from the French word “rallier” which means to group. Probably, the first uses were during the Napoleonic wars and so it was that the British military adopted this form of transport for meetings in the countryside. From here the jump to cars was a short step.
What does this story have to do with the Artcurial auction in Paris that was held on 24th October? In actual fact quite a lot.
Let’s start with the numbers: 67 cars sold out of 96 on offer, equivalent to 69.79%. Turnover exceeded this ratio, reaching a decidedly excellent 79.26%, equal to €5,682,264 ($6,590,431) sold against €7,169,000 ($8,314,785) offered.
A significant contribution to this result was undoubtedly the fact that almost half (47.92%) of the lots were offered without reserve, including some top lots. In addition, the location: the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées where the headquarters of the auction house are located, not to mention the fact that when you play at home, victory is easier.
What about the rally cars?
This sale looked like a “special stage”, the cover of the event was dedicated to an ex-works Subaru Impreza WRC, and Group B cars abounded among the various top lots. This is undoubtedly the result of what happened in February: on that occasion, a very important collection of cars with a sporting past, all dating back to the golden age of Group B rallies, was sold for figures that very often set new records. So, Artcurial is now recognized as “THE” reference point for anyone looking to sell these cars but also for those looking for them.
Although the Impreza went unsold (it had a huge estimate: €450,000-€650,000 but the offers stopped at €360,000 or $417,500) the others made up for it. Some examples? The ex-works Citroen BX 4TC Evolution once driven by Jean-Claude Andruet, broke through its price estimate of €250,000-€350,000 and changed hands for €417,200 ($483,900).
The 1986 Nissan 240RS from the collection sold in February did not have the same appeal as the Audi Quattro or Peugeot 205 T16, and the estimate of €130,000-€190,000 seemed optimistic, especially considering that its best result was eighth place at the Rallye de Cote d’Ivoire in 1986. Even here, however, offers came flooding in, and in the end the new owner paid €214,560 ($248,850) for it.
Even a Renault 5 Turbo 2 from 1985 prepared in the period by Cevennes broke through its price estimate of €55,000-€75,000 when it was sold for €89,400 ($103,688), a remarkable figure if we consider that it was a road-going version.
In comparison, the €262,240 ($304,150) paid for ex-works Alpine A110 1600VC mule car seemed reasonable if not cheap (the estimate in this case was €220,000-€280,000).
If I had to choose one car to buy from this auction, it would have been an Alpine. The 1991 A610 offered in its iconic blue was a unique example made for its first and only owner, Jean de Alexandris, a former Alpine factory driver in the golden age of the brand at the turn of the 60s and 70s. Having the right connections at the time of purchase, Jean specced his car with some modifications by the factory typical of a race driver: the possible disconnection of the ABS by a small button under the dashboard, elimination of the air-conditioning, as well as an increase of 0.3 bars of pressure in the turbo so as to “leave the Porsches in the rear-view mirror”! I would have brought home a bargain too: estimated at €35,000-€50,000, it sold for €29,800 ($34,562) because it was offered without reserve. Great buy, monsieur.
Another unexpectedly good sale was the Citroën C6 V6 HDI 240 Exclusive from 2012. A low mileage example (just 19,076 km on the clock), this diesel-powered model was top of the Citroën range at the time but had very little success. Estimated €8,000-€12,000, it changed hands for €28,608 ($33,180)! What nostalgia? It’s hard to say.
The deal of the day was a BMW 850 CSI. Very rare, very powerful and now, very sought after. A black example with beige interior was offered at Artcurial, 120,000km on the clock and a manual gearbox. The estimate of €40,000-€60,000 (without reserve) was low – I’ve heard of examples going for around €80,000-€100,000 – but it sold for €47,680 ($55,300). And here’s the twist: at exactly the same time on Bring a Trailer Auctions, the famous online auction site, another 850 CSI (red with the same beige interior, manual gearbox but only 45,000 km) was sold for $141,000 – roughly €120,000.
Once speculators bought on the internet and resold at physical auctions making considerable profits. Have the tables turned?