Unbelievable Automotive Goldmine Unearthed in France
One word comes to mind when looking at what's hidden under these dilapidated makeshift buildings in western France, and that word is "Jackpot!" A team from French auction house Artcurial Motorcars recently discovered a treasure trove of dozens of "barn find" condition cars wearing badges from the likes of Ferrari and Maserati as well as prewar greats like Delahaye and Bugatti, and the whole collection is to be sold by Artcurial at their annual Paris sale early next year. How did such a group of cars come together? And how in this age of collector car-mania has it gone undiscovered for so long? In the 1950s, at a time when a lot of prewar automobiles were still just used cars, an enthusiast by the name of Roger Baillon began accumulating automobiles old and new. Baillon was very successful in the lucrative transport business of post-World War II Europe, so he was able to gather quite a few. RELATED: A Barn Find Uncovers Hidden Gems in North Carolina
Although he wanted to preserve the cars and particularly the significant prewar ones in a museum-type setting, Baillon's business took a nosedive in the 1970s and he subsequently sold about fifty of his cars. It was assumed that they had all been sold, and the rest of the cars have been forgotten ever since.
The specialists at Artcurial, who are self-described treasure hunters, regularly traverse France finding cars for sales. This, though was definitely the find of a lifetime. Sixty collector cars in one place is something special, but the quality of the machinery found here is the stuff dreams are made of.
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Included under the makeshift corrugated iron shelters and outbuildings are cars from Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot-Lago (including one owned by King Farouk of Egypt), Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche, Delahaye, Delage and Facel Vega as well as coachwork by famous names like Chapron and Saoutchik. Even though all are grimy and neglected, any one of them would be an incredible find on its own.
While it would be downright impossible to pick a favorite out of this group, the one that will likely be the highlight at auction is the Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider. Found under a pile of papers, it is one of just 37 built, has the more desirable covered headlights, and was thought lost by marque experts until now. The last SWB California Spider to sell at auction went for $15 million, and Artcurial estimates that their example will do €9.5 million to €12 million ($11.7 million to $14.7 million).
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This monumental find is going to make for a likewise monumental sale in Paris this coming February. It will have reverberations throughout the market on both sides of the Atlantic and certainly keep many of the world's top restorers busy for a few years to come. We can't wait to see what these cars bring and where they end up.
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