Saturday, December 20, 2008


If collectors are currently pouting Contemporary art, they literally snubbed this week end my favorite works of art, i.e. Ferraris, Lancias and other "miraviglie" sport cars from the 50s-90s by the best designers and makers of Italy.

The London auction house Bonhams that carved for itself a prestigious niche in the segment of collectible cars market was offering this week end in Gstaad, Switzerland, a nice bunch of some of the most beautiful Ferraris, Maseratis and Lancias one can dream of.

Unfortunately the bidding was not very agressive to say the least. Of the 34 prestigious sport cars offered only 13 passed the reserve price and sold, making a score of 62% of left over cars. More worrying the cars that sold were almost all low priced : 9 sold for less than 200,000 CHF ($181,000) while only a beautiful 1965 black Ferrari 275 GTS Spyder (picture at left) went for more than CHF 600,000 ($524,000) and a splendid 1961 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder full of history and completely redone (picture on top) fetched CHF 346,050 ($313,000).

But this was a minor disappointment : the "clou de la vente", supposedly a fantastic 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Spider V12 whose bodywork was styled and crafted by Carrozzeria Rocco Motto of Torino did not make its reserve. This unique piece of art used to belong to the enthusiastic Florentine amateur racing driver Piero Scotti. He took delivery of the car – unusually painted metallic grey - in the early Spring of 1951 and on April 28 that year he drove it in the XVIII Mille Miglia accompanied by Amos Ruspaggiari. The car’s start-time race number was ‘434’, and Scotti achieved astonishing success with it – returning to the starting point at Brescia after 1,000 miles’ hectic racing on the public roads of Italy to finish third overall.

The car ran in the 1987 Mille Miglia Retro, and in 1991 reappeared with it in the Rallye des 10,000 Virages. Appearances followed in the 1992 Tour de France Automobile and 1997 Monaco Historic Grand Prix meeting. The car was displayed during the Lyons Salon de l’Auto of 1999 and it was also exhibited at the Concours d’El├ęgance d' Automobiles Classiques Louis Vuitton at Bagatelle.

The estimate for this capo lavoro was between CHF 2.8 and 3.8 million ($2.5-3.5 million) but it did not reach the reserve and was left unsold on the stage. Onlookers and fans could not believed their eyes.

Another big disappointment was caused by the fate of one of the most elegant sport car of all times, the pretty Lancia Aurelia Spyder : this 1955 B24 model designed by Pinin Farina, the first car ever to employ a V6 engine, was launched at the 1950 Turin Motor Show. Only 240 B24 Spiders were manufactured during 1954/55, and today the model is one of the most sought-after of post-war Lancias. But this beautiful black exemple was left unsold on stage in spite of a moderate estimate of CHF 430 /530,000 ($390,000).

The Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider summed up 1950s Dolce Vita Italy perhaps better than any other motor car. Over the past seven years the equivalent of approximately €138,300 has been spent on this example and unfortunately the result which is simply stunning left indifferent the bidders. I wish I had enough money to bid on it. It is definitely the car I would have love to buy this weekend and to bring back to Texas for Christmas.

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