It’s a digital world right now — and for Bonhams, the Paris event on March 10 represented new ground as the company’s first all-digital motorcars auction.
This was the company’s first extended online event, starting on March 3 and running through March 10. Bidding was held on Bonhams’ website and app during that time, and according to the company, bidders came from 37 countries and half of them were new clients — a sentiment we’ve been following at a range of auctions for the past few months. Buyers seem to be right at home bidding from home.
Say what you will about the benefits of in-person bidding and the old way of doing things — here’s another data point that shows the market’s appetite is still strong as ever, regardless of the sale method.
The basics: €3,803,475 ($4,523,092) in cars sold, not including a 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Cabriolet A that sold at an undisclosed price. 45/74 lots found new owners. Top sale honors were shared between a 1960 Aston Martin DB4 Series II and Diego Maradona’s 1992 Porsche Carrera 2 “Turbo Look” 964, sold at €483,000 each ($574,383).
Here are five sales from Paris that you should know about.
1964 Morris Mini Cooper S Sports Saloon
Lot 111, #1- condition
Sold price: $75,217 (€63,250)
Dove Grey and Old English White with Dove Grey interior. Matching numbers S with 1,275cc engine. Left-hand drive export model. Raced early on, registered for the street in 1973, then stored for many years. Restored sometime around 2018 and comes with all invoices. BMIHT Certificate.
Minis — particularly the higher performance variants — are must-own collector cars. Good examples are tons of fun. Somehow they’re bigger on the inside than they are on the outside, and they just beg to be driven in anger at all times, which generally speaking will still not get you into too much trouble with the law. That said, this little rocket has just under 100 hp from its 1,275 (up from the factory’s 76 hp rating), which is plenty considering the car’s size and weight.
The trouble is there are a lot of rough examples out there, as rust was prevalent in these cars. Real Cooper S models with the hot 1,275 bring higher prices thanks to their performance heritage, and this one’s long storage and subsequent fantastic restoration made it an expensive proposition. There was no specific race history here to justify a price $20k ahead of the market, but I don’t think the price was over the top for what the car was, and what it represents.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 190SL convertible
Lot 118, #2 condition
Sold price: $116,244 (€97,750)
Silver with maroon leather. First-year 190 originally delivered to California. 76,000 miles from new, over half of which are documented from prior to 1961. Restored in the Netherlands after 1998 and upgraded with twin Weber 40DCOE carburetors. Comes with FIVA passport and Belgian Carte Grise, along with restoration photos.
I tend to think of these cars as two-thirds scale 300SLs, but that’s not really fair to the 190, as it’s apples to oranges to the bigger, performance-oriented and injected SL. The 190 experience is not as sporting as what you’ll find in its bigger siblings, but these make fantastic driver’s cars, specifically for touring. That said, the Webers fitted in place of the factory Solex carbs here will help add some zip to this one’s driving dynamics, which can be a good thing, depending on how much of a sticker for originality you might be.
The 190 is still a Mercedes, so you can expect fantastic build quality here and a subsequently expensive restoration bill. The values of these cars tend to offer a good look at the health of the market, though, as they tend to stay in demand, and in the days before COVID, they often brought good money when restored to the right level. This one was the right level, and that supported this slightly high price — which was a good sign overall.
1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione “Giallo Ferrari”
Lot 125, #2+ condition
Sold price: $102,569 (€86,250)
One of 295 limited edition “Giallo Ferrari” examples built. Said to be original and unmodified from new, and retains original factory rear carpet coverings. Equipped with ABS, a/c and leather-trimmed Recaro seats. Shows 53,648 kms from new. Clean throughout, with only the lightest of wear to driver’s seat and some peeling emissions stickers underhood.
With import into the U.S. now a possibility thanks to the 25-year rolling restriction, there’s a bigger market for the Integrale than there used to be — but that’s not the only reason for an uptick in interest, as regardless of where you’re based, performance icons from the 1980s and 1990s are becoming more coveted — specifically those that have either low mileage, good condition or rare specs. This has all three.
This two-owner car isn’t the lowest mileage version out there, though, and it’s not the only special edition version, either — just a few months back, Bonhams sold a one-of-310 “Martini 6” edition in Scottsdale for $182,000. That car had half the miles of this one, which goes to show just how valuable each mile can be, Martini colors notwithstanding. In any case, the fun here is in use, so I think this was the better buy, assuming you like yellow.
1977 Ferrari 308 GTB
Lot 139, #2 condition
Sold price: $88,892 (€74,750)
Medio Verde Metallica with tan leather. Originally delivered new to Fairbanks, Alaska (of all places). Owned by land speed record holder Don Vesco for many years, who painted it white and fitted it with “Bonneville 200 MPH Club” decals, which it still wears. Restored in its original color and recently serviced with a new clutch, belts and guides, and a rebuilt ignition system. Comes with Schedoni fitted luggage and all books and manuals. Worn steering wheel.
The last 308 I covered was at RM Sotheby’s Paris. It was also in a rare color. That one, a GTS, sold for $146,204, while this GTB landed at $89k. Why?
Well, one sale doesn’t make a market, and while that gold 308 was nice, that $146k price was huge money for what that car was, and I think this sale does a good job of highlighting that — in green. This sale, while still high, is closer to current accepted pricing for a good example of a 308 — and the GTB is more desirable than the GTS, at least generally speaking. It’s worth pointing out that alongside the rare color, the source of the gold car was a collection (another bonus), and it was Ferrari Classiche certified to have its original engine and transmission. This car didn’t claim to have the same low-ish mileage the Gold car did or that coveted factory certification, but I do think the color here was more interesting, and the luggage certainly added to the value as well.
1992 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Type 964 Cabriolet
Lot 156, #2 condition
Sold price: $574,383 (€483,000)
Delivered new to the late European football player Diego Maradona. Works Turbo Look car in silver. One of 1,200 built. Said to have matching numbers and a fresh service. Six owners from new, with 122,762 kilometers on the clock. Paint clean, some slight wear to convertible top.
This was one of the two high sales of the event, but while Porsche — and especially later, rare-spec models — continue to rise in the market, this was more of a case of star power with a car versus a car with star power. Maradona was a force and a legend to say the least, and not just for his “Hand of God” score and “Goal of the Century” against England in 1986. He bought this car while on a short stint with Sevilla FC — and it fit right in with his partying lifestyle, including a police chase and armed stop after running a stop sign and then bolting from the authorities at 180 kmh. Yes, that all took place in this car.
Maradona died in November, which probably had something to do with this car coming to auction now. It was always going to be expensive, so the price, even at double the high estimate, wasn’t a surprise. This is star power at its finest, draped over a current market sweetheart.