Scottsdale and Retromobile. Catch a flight to both

  • 25 January 2023
  • 3 min read
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Scottsdale and Retromobile. Catch a flight to both

When Phil Collins decided to play at both Live Aid concerts on the same day in 1985, first in London and then in Philadelphia, he used a combination of Concorde and time zones to pull it off. Some collectors may well be tempted to try the same tactic to put together the three auctions of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Paris, at Retromobile. Concorde may no longer be with us but the journey only takes a day, so it is possible.

Let’s start the proceedings by fishing out a few of the lots for each auction: from Barrett-Jackson in Arizona, the Toyota Supra: the first Japanese car from the 1990s to see its prices jump, pointing the way to everything that has happened in the last three years. Of the six offered for sale, three deserve special attention. All three are equipped with the more desirable manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential. I would choose the grey one from 1998 because it has only covered 18,000 miles (the other two cars, both black, have 52,000 and 65,000 miles under their belts), but the highest mileage model is also the only one not to have been in an accident. Their quotations will be a good indication of future trends.

1-1997-Toyota-Supra-15th 1997 Toyota Supra 15th Anniversary Limited Edition

Also from Barrett-Jackson is a very special MG: we are talking about the 1965 MGB Roadster that once belonged to Simon Cowell (of America’s Got Talent) which is important for various reasons. The first is certainly the car, the MGB is one of the pillars of car collecting on both sides of the Atlantic, and I myself have had two. Above all, it was customized by Frontline Developments “the grandparents of the restomod”, who increased its power output and usability before the word restomod had even been invented. The engine is a 2.5-litre Mazda unit, and the 6-speed gearbox and limited-slip differential make it truly spectacular to drive. You know I’d really love to get my hands on a third MGB…

2-1965-MG-MGB-Custom-Convertible 1965 MG MGB Custom Convertible Ex-Simon Cowell

Remaining in Arizona momentarily, let’s shift our attention to RM and Bonhams: the first one to open its doors will be RM (Thursday) while Bonhams will follow on Friday. Porsche is by far the most represented brand at RM and so my choice falls on a 911 997 GT3 RS series from 2011. Although it is not the very rare 4.0 version, this 3.8 is certainly not to be laughed at. Manual gearbox, hydraulic power steering, Sport Chrono Plus kit. Only 571 were produced but RM is offering one of the best: just 374 miles from new. The estimate? $400,000-$600,000, which sounds like a lot right now. But in a couple of years?

3-2011-Porsche-911-GT3-RS-1536x1024 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Another German caught my attention: a BMW Z8. This particular one is from 2002 with 7,430 miles on the clock. The 20” Alpina wheels may not be original but those are also included in the price of the car. Usually, these models come in silver with red or black interior, but this one is a real treat: black with cream interior. Its naturally aspirated 5-litre V8 is still missed to this day and, in my opinion, the model is highly undervalued. The estimate of $225,000-$275,000 is in line with the market though. Worth keeping an eye on.

4-2002-BMW-Z8-1536x1097 2002 BMW Z8

In the eternal rivalry between Porsche and Ferrari, Bonhams puts its money on the latter. Why should I talk about a 2019 488 Pista? Because it’s a market benchmark. Red with very few miles (2,260), it is the perfect example of the “semi-new” limited series Ferrari. Estimated at $500,000-$600,000, it’s well worth keeping an eye on, although prices do seem to be going up.

5-2019-Ferrari-488-Pista-1536x1026 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista

It will be interesting to see how healthy the pre-war market in America is. Bonhams is offering a Simplex 50hp 5-Passenger Torpedo Tourer from 1910 – a model that was at the cutting edge of technology back in its day. The estimate is $2.5m-$3.5, which seems ambitious but I would not be surprised if it changes hands at the upper end of that range. Some cars are like the phoenix, they appear to be dead and buried, only to resurface stronger than ever.

6-1912-Simplex-50HP-5-Passenger-Torpedo-Tourer-1536x1024 1912 Simplex 50HP 5 Passenger Torpedo Tourer

And now it’s time to catch the first plane to Paris. Here we find two of our old acquaintances: Bonhams and RM who have taken their rivalry to Europe. In the same order as in Arizona, RM will be held on Wednesday, with Bonhams the following day.

The Canadians will offer a wonderful selection of hypercars with a trio of McLarens that I’d like to present to you: a yellow P1 from 2015 with just 950 km to its credit; a 2020 Speedtail with only one owner from new and 114 km on the clock and an orange Senna LM with just 43 km. Estimates are €1m-€1.6m, €2.2m-€2.6m and €1.4m-€1.6m respectively. If someone buys all three, I would like to offer my services as his best friend!

7-2020-McLaren-Senna-LM-1536x1016 2020 McLaren Senna LM

An alternative? When I saw the 1977 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscope that once belonged to Rod Stewart, I immediately knew it was the one for me. Back in 2020 (at Bonhams), it went unsold at €700,000. Then, in February 2021, it returned to the same city but this time at RM where it went for €775,625, within its estimate of €750,000-€900,000. This time, its back with RM and the estimate has risen to €950,000-€1,050,000 after having recently completed a full restoration at the Polo Storico Lamborghini. This will be a good index for the market.

8-1977-Lamborghini-Countach-LP400-Periscopio-1536x1024 1977 Lamborghini Countach LP400 “Periscopio”

Over at Bonhams, I have spotted an Aston Martin DB4. Of the two on offer, the most expensive one is also the most interesting; a fifth series from 1962, silver with green interior, the following year it was fitted with the Vantage engine (or SS) at the factory. Purchased in 2008, it has always remained in storage and now requires some restoration. About ten years ago, I was at this auction when another example of this model was sold for more than €1,000,000. But it seems that times have changed: even considering an expensive restoration, the estimate of €300,000-€500,000 is a long way from that target.

9-1962-Aston-Martin-DB4-Series-V-Vantage-1536x1024 1962 Aston Martin DB4 “Series V” Vantage

The car that could amaze us all the most is undoubtedly the 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 from Bonhams. It’s not just a rare 5.0 version, with 61,000 km on the clock and a recent cosmetic restoration, it is also a piece of history. It was one of the very first cars that Diego Armando Maradona bought himself when he became a professional footballer. A normal example could be worth somewhere around €40,000-€50,000 but this one’s famous owner makes those estimates fly to €150,000-€250,000. However, as we have seen on other occasions, this is only an indication.

10-1980-Mercedes-Benz-450SLC-5.0-Ex-Diego-Maradona-1536x10261980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 Ex-Diego Maradona

With Retromobile back to normal, Artcurial returns in style: 2 days and over 200 cars worth an estimated €80,000,000 on offer.

The top lot of all five auctions, including the American ones, is the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM. Only 32 examples were ever made and every time one goes to auction it makes the news. This particular example, with matching numbers, was restored in the late 1990s by the finest experts, before ending up in the home of one of the most important French collectors some twenty years ago. The estimate is on request but if you do not have at least €10m-€15 do not even think of taking it home…

11-1964-Ferrari-250-LM-1536x1057 1964 Ferrari 250 LM

Although it is estimated at €2m-€3m, Artcurial has one of the best deals of the week. The Bugatti Type 57 Atalante market is running a little low on fuel of late, but this model is definitely desirable: with the original sunroof, just three were made and it also participated in the Rallye des Alpes in 1936. The question is: will it be sold above its estimate or is the estimate a sign of difficulties in the sector? Nous devrons attendre et voir…

12-1935-Bugatti–Type-57-Atalante-1-1536x1024 1935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante