Market and auctions

Bonhams quadruples in Paris

Cliff Goodall's view

Photo credit: Bonhams, Gooding, Worldwide

Comparing the results of Bonhams in Paris this February with those from one year ago, one has the distinct impression of change measured in orders of magnitude. There are multiple reasons for this: the effect of the easing of the pandemic, the fact that last year the auction was online and not in presence (something that raised the percentage of cars without reserve from 7% to 55%) and, something that’s clearly evident now, a particularly promising liveliness of the market. 

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

Looking at the numbers, 2021 saw 68 cars offered with 55.90% selling (38). This year, 111 cars were offered and 91 were sold, translating into a success rate that flew up to 81.98% and a turnover that went from €3,729,645 ($4,244,224) to €18,629,425 ($21,199,725). An increase of more than 400%.

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

What are the most significant cars in my opinion? Read on to find out.

The car that went for the highest price was a 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari. Sold at auction in September 2019 for 2,185,000 CHF (approximately €2,013,000) with just 894 km on the clock after being seized from its first owner, and having since travelled an additional 36 km, it was estimated between €2m-€2.5m. In the end, it changed hands for €2,558,750 ($2,911,550), a not insignificant profit in just over two years.

2014 Ferrari LaFerrari sold for €2,558,750 ($2,911,550)

Another decidedly interesting case was the 1996 Bugatti EB110. From RM, also in Paris, just the previous day, a 1994 model, estimated at €1m-1.2m sold for €1,805,000 ($2,043,808), a new record for the model. The one at Bonhams had a lower mileage and was in the iconic Bugatti Blue (the one at RM was silver), and in the end it changed hands for €1,817,000 ($2,067,527), breaking the record in just 24 hours! Too bad there wasn’t a third on offer!

1996 Bugatti EB110 sold for €1,817,000 ($2,067,527)

Among the many deals of the day, I should mention the 1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 DTM. It was not one of the official works cars, and was certainly not comparable to an Alfa Romeo 155 V6 Ti that battled it out “at the top” of the rankings, but it did finish sixth in the general classification of that year. While a 155 goes for roughly €700,000 ($792,610) now, this one was estimated at €300,000-€400,000, but in the end an astute bidder took it home for €218,500 ($248,626).

1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 DTM sold for €218,500 ($248,626)

The most fascinating story of the auction was certainly the Pipe Serie E 15CV Rear Entrance Tonneau with its distinctive rear entry door for the rear passengers. Imagine entering a castle and finding three cars: a 1904 Pipe, a 1901 Renault Type D and a 1903 De Dion Bouton Type N. All three very original, all three barn finds, all three in the hands of the same family forever. We are talking about almost 120 years! I’m sure I could faint. 

1904 Pipe Serie E 15CV Rear Entrance Tonneau sold for €759,000 ($863,650)

The market began to drool over this story and the offers came flooding in. The Renault, estimated at €35,000-€45,000, changed hands for €89,125 ($101,415) while the Pipe did even better: estimated at €200,000-€300,000 (without reserve, like the others), it went for €759,000 ($863,650). Correctly I would say. And the De Dion Bouton? This was the only one of the three that could not be associated with the same family for its entire life. This small detail turned out to be bigger than expected, diluting interest somewhat: against an estimate of €45,000-€55,000, it changed hands for €52,900 ($59,898).

1901 Renault Type D 4.5CV Single-Cylinder Voiturette sold for €89,125 ($101,415)

Those interested in something with great history could have turned their attention to the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Station Wagon, once used by Michael Schumacher when he drove “other types of Mercedes” during the weekends . Wearing overalls and a helmet. The optimistic estimate of €50,000-€100,000 (without reserve) indicated the uncertainty hovering around its true value. In the end, offers stopped at €27,600 ($31,405) and the deal was made by the buyer.

2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Station Wagon (Ex-Michael Schumacher) sold for €27,600 ($31,405)