Market and auctions

RM at Paul Ricard. What is the bug?

Cliff Goodall’s view

Photo credit: RM Sotheby’s

76 cars from the Guikas collection on offer, all of which sold, in the beautiful setting of the Paul Ricard Circuit, with the RM auctioneer putting on an admirable show and entertaining the crowd for almost five hours straight without missing a beat, not to mention the perfect organization, were not enough to transform it into a success: 55% of the car, in fact, went for below their minimum estimates and the average selling price was 12% lower than expected (€39,089,900 or $44,059,985 against €44,430,000 or $50,133,255). Why? 

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

The explanation is there and it is a simple one: who sold the collection? A collector, Jean Guikas, but also one of the largest French dealers of historic cars. And for potential buyers it was no secret that many of the cars offered were stored in his Marseille showroom for years, waiting for a buyer who, for some reason or other, did not turn into a customer. One example above all, the Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet S1 Pininfarina from 1958, chassis 0849GT. In 2007, Guikas bought the car in the United States – rumours have it for less than €1.5 million – when it still had the “non-matching” engine. Luck would have it that in his salon at the same time, there was also a 250 Tour de France with the correct engine and in 2017, he commissioned Lecoq coachbuilders to carry out the engine swap and perform a restoration. He had asked to paint it in black when the car was originally ivory, to my eyes an inexplicable gesture given the interest in originality for these cars. 

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I sold for €4,420,625 ($4,988,078)

The story continues: in February 2018, the car was offered for sale with an estimate of €7-9 million at the Retromobile auction by Artcurial but went unsold after receiving a maximum bid of €5.5 million. At Ricard, the estimate was €5.5-€7 million but, knowing its past and the many years that have past while waiting for a customer, it is understandable why the car was sold for €4,420,625 ($4,988,078), 20% less than its minimum estimate.

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

This example serves to explain the reality in which RM found itself. We will see other similar cases shortly, but in order to raise the morale of an event that nevertheless brought in a turnover of over 39 million euros with an average value per car of €514,000, let’s take a look at some of the most exciting lots:

The resounding success of the auction was the Ferrari Testarossa from 1986. It had everything you could expect from this model: it was a Monospecchio version (produced only in the first two years), Ferrari Classiche certified and was one of just six produced in the original colour scheme of Argento over a Rosso interior. The mileage was also quite low at 52,000 km. The estimate of €110,000-€150,000 was brushed aside in no time at all and after a short bidding war the hammer dropped at €286,250 ($322,995). A new world record for the model.

1986 Ferrari Testarossa sold for €286,250 ($322,995)

Another example, although in a much lower price range, was the Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider Veloce from 1969, the one nicknamed “Osso di Seppia” (or long tail). An example without anything in particular to note, neither positive or negative, with an estimate of €40,000-€60,000, unleashed a flurry of bids and counter offers and, in the end, the car was sold for €82,800 ($93,327). More than double its minimum estimate.

1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider Veloce sold for €82,800 ($93,327)

The 50-year anniversary of the Countach and the revival by Lamborghini were certainly helpful for the two examples offered here, both of which sold above their maximum estimates: a black (beautiful!) Periscopio from 1975 came with an estimate of €750,000-€900,000 and changed hands for €905,000 ($1,020,065), while a more recent LP 400S from 1981 went for €432,500 ($487,490), a number above its estimate of €350,000-€400,000.

1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 “Periscopio” sold for €905,000 ($1,020,065)

The lack of reserve prices created the conditions for some great deals that time will only confirm: a 2007 Aston Martin DBRS9, a 2012 Audi R8 GT3 LMS Ultra that came fourth at the 2014 Spa 4 Hours and a Lola B12/80 IMSA. 

2007 Aston Martin DBRS9 sold for €195,500 ($220,355)

The Aston, estimated at €350,000-€450,000 was sold for €195,500 ($220,355) (-44%), the Lola, from an estimated €450,000-€550,000 went for €241,250 ($271,923) (-46%), while the Audi, estimated at €250,000-€350,000, made just over half of that, going for €132,250 ($149,065). 

2012 Audi R8 GT3 LMS Ultra sold for €132,250 ($149,065)

I think the reason here is in the type of technology and seniority of the cars: they are no longer competitive on the track or on the market, but they’re still not historical. 

2012 Lola B12/80 IMSA sold for €241,250 ($271,923)

Perhaps this explains what was the worst lot of the auction: a Formula 1 Prost AP02 raced at Monaco in 1999 by Olivier Panis. For this jewel, the estimate was €500,000-€600,000 but it changed hands for just €172,500 ($194,432).

1999 Prost AP02 Formula 1 €172,500 ($194,432)

A very different question was the Alpine A442 from 1976. The estimate of €4-€5 million concerned a car that had participated in Le Mans in 1977 and 1978 (when the race was won by Renault), but in the room the auctioneer correctly reported that it had not participated in the second edition and, of course, the estimate of €4-€ million was no longer valid. The price of €2,255,000 ($2,541,711), being the only example out of the four built by Renault not part of the company’s collection, is certainly a good price for the person that bought it. Remember the Matra Simca MS670 that won Le Mans in 1972, was sold last year at Retromobile 2020 for €6,907,200 ($7,978,600).

1976 Renault-Alpine A442 sold for €2,255,000 ($2,541,711)