Entertainment from Paris and elsewhere

To my considerable surprise, my wife and I spent yesterday evening watching RM/Sotheby’s auction from Paris on my laptop, huddled around the kitchen table. This was the first of the three auctions taking place during Retromobile, each one offering at least one Facel Vega.

That, then, was my reasoning for watching the auction, to see what sort of price the one-owner-from-new iridescent Facel 11 would make. My wife would also like to know just how much the similar machine in our garage was appreciating in value. However, as an estate agent, she enjoys watching people spend big money, so there was a double appeal, working out which of her stock was worth, say, an Ferrari F40.

Make that a treble appeal, given that there was nothing on television and that auctioneer Max Girardo is an engaging sort with a talent in several languages, knows his cars and his audience and although he sometimes comes over as a bit of a smart arse, generally makes the whole thing go with an easy-going urgency which other auction houses would do well to follow. He had a stooge called Filippo who he could well have mocked but refrained from, although the latter didn’t seem comfortable in either French or Italian, spoke into a microphone that was too close to his mouth so was difficult to hear, didn’t seem to know cars and hadn’t done his homework. Generally speaking superfluous to the production.

The overall impression was that classic car prices have stabilised, if not dipped a little. There were several old favourites that didn’t sell, such as a Ferrari F50, a DB5, a couple of pretty exclusive Alfa Romeos, a Mercedes 350SE convertible and even a 1962 Ferrari SuperAmerica. If the estimates – and therefore the seller’s expectations – were too high, that was the fault of the auction house which failed to gauge the market. We shall see if that’s a trend in the next two auctions.

HK2A 171 looked gorgeous in its blue paintwork and unrestored patina, posing beside clear blue Greek sea in the pics. Amusingly, the description of the car mentions four passengers travelling in Rolls Royce-like comfort at high speed; clearly whoever wrote that had never been in the back of a Facel 11!

Greek Facel22

It had been driven off the stand at the end of the 1963 Geneva Motor Show and had only done around 20,000 miles. There were other one-owner cars from the same collection, which had been similarly looked after. That mileage would suggest pretty good condition and it certainly looked it, but you can never be certain from pics.

Greek Facel 24

It was lot 140, pretty much in the middle of the auction, and estimated at €220-280,000. Girardo started it at €100,000. It soon went up to €210,000 which equated to £160,650 and there it stayed. In spite of not reaching its estimate, it sold at that price; no doubt the owners didn’t want to take it all the way back to Greece.

I would suggest that was quite a disappointing price – well, Mrs C thought so! HK2A 141 sold at Scottsdale in the States last week for $255,000, $280,000 after expenses. The basic price is about £10k more than that sold last night, and that was for a pretty perfect car.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, my Classic and Sports Car notes that Justin Banks has again brought down the price of his two wrecks, the Excellence to £30k and the Facellia Coupe to £18k but then both have disappeared from his website so maybe they have since sold. He now has three Maseratis for sale and an Amphicar for £35k – which he seems to have bought for £25,300 judging from the information 17 pages earlier in the magazine.

This morning’s entertainment from Paris comes via Bonhams who are always a little bit more pretentious in their presentation. They have an HK500 for sale while Artcurial will be hilarious on Friday if last year’s auction is anything to go by with lots of people shouting in French. They have two FV4s, an HK500 and the original Facel prototype for sale, the latter with a wide-ranging estimate between €350,000 and €550,000. I shall be reporting!



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