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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 26, 2015 Comments (0)

Baillon Collection, Sandy Cotterman

F1 Update

Mercedes F1 testing

One final test session to go and things appear to not have changed very much from where 2014 ended. Mercedes remains the quickest with Williams not far behind. Ferrari looks to have made strides and Red Bull, saddled with the once formidable Renault engine, hasn’t. McLaren remains an enigma. Last year, with the best engine available, their chassis was too weak to allow them to be competitive. The new Honda engine, despite rumors of its great potential, hasn’t been on track long enough to assess. When they have sorted it out, and if they have resolved their chassis issues, they may be great. There are big “ifs” in McLaren’s future.

Morgan Engines

Buick 215 V8

With just scant mention of the V8 powered Morgan came a brace of reader emails. All pointed out that the engine began life as an aluminum Buick and Oldsmobile 215 CID engine offered in ‘61 thru ‘63 Skylarks, F-85s (some turbo-charged) and in a small quantity of Pontiac Tempests. Over 700,000 were produced from 1960 thru 1963. GM stopped production because warranty issues were making them too expensive. In 1965 GM sold the tooling for the engine to Rover. Retiring Buick engineer, Joe Turley, moved to the UK to help solve its issues and thus began a long and fascinating life for this castaway that saw it win two Formula 1 world championships, race at Indy, and power a host of other interesting vehicles on and off-road. Read more.

Michael Furman – Photographer

Michael’s image this week is the 1965 Ferrari 250 LM 6107, which was shot for RM Auctions.

1965 Ferrari 250 LM 6107, photographed by Michael Furman

Sandy On Assignment: Sleeping Beauties

Baillon Collection, Sandy Cotterman

Sandy Cotterman attended the sale of the Baillon Collection at Retromobile and brings an interesting, even emotional, perspective to the sales of this long neglected collection. Looking for a broader view of Retromobileclick here for Sandy’s 2014 Retromobile story and images.

Featured Classifieds

Standard Catalog of Ferrari 1947-2003, by Michael Covello

Mike Covello’s excellent book, Standard Catalog of Ferrari 1947-2003, put this car in context. The Lamborghini Miura was already out and Ferrari would soon introduce a mid-engined boxer, this front engine V-12 was the last of the “true Ferraris”. Long hood and short rear deck, the 365 GTB/4 made a statement. Road & Track called it “the best sports car in the world, or the best GT. Take your pick.” Detractors say that at low speeds it requires muscling. Admirers say that at sixty and above it is a dream. Either way, it is a beautiful and powerful car and this week we introduce you to four of them in three different colors presently stabled at Autosport Designs on Long Island. This would seem to be an appropriate time to pick a color and cut a deal.

MMR March Motorsports Calendar

The season kicks off with two F1 races, Sebring 12 hours, Amelia Concours d’Elegance and World Superbike. A fine beginning.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to pass this on to a friend or two.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


Sandy On Assignment: Sleeping Beauties in Paris

Posted on February 26, 2015 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

Baillon Collection, Ferrari

On a pedestal, fully clothed, unlike its naked siblings, the Ferrari was stunning.

Fiercely determined to make my way to Paris to see first-hand the Baillon barn finds, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to witness. Surprised by my reaction, I was overtaken with emotion. All senses were on high alert, as I walked among the sleeping beauties.

Baillon Collection overview

The images capture the overall mood of the showing.

1949 Talbot Lago T26, Baillon Collection

Two stars! The 1949 Talbot Lago T26 par Saoutchik with its crushed back end coming in at a final $1,928,706 juxtaposed against the prized Ferrari.

Overwhelmed themselves at their discovery last fall, Artcurial Motorcars worked with Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff, to create an artistic display conveying their initial emotions. Sleeping in total darkness, yellow lighting cast shadows on aging exteriors, while interior features were highlighted with ghostly white lighting. I visited Exhibition Hall Number 2 Thursday morning, where the Baillon Collection was housed during Retromobile, the first week in February at the Paris Porte de Versailles.

Talbot Lago T26, interior, Baillon Collection

It was just as fascinating to look inside as it was to gaze at the exteriors, as witnessed by an inside peek at the prized Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport SWB.

I was mesmerized. The atmosphere was somber — classical music setting the mood. The public was allowed inside at intervals and in small enough numbers so everyone had an opportunity to view the cars with a few potential bidders allowed inside the stanchions.

1927 Amilcar CGSS Biplace Sport, Baillon Collection

Listed at an estimate of €3-5,000, this rather rough 1927 Amilcar CGSS biplace sport, with its authentic and likely original chassis, sold for an inclusive price of €54,832 or $62,136.

I returned Friday to witness the auction and take a final peek at the sleeping beauties. Adjacent to the ‘viewing’ area where the cars were exhibited was another hall for auction seating. I had an excellent vantage point in the press box to watch… the standoff begin!

1934 Delage D6-11 S Coach, Baillon Collection

Fresh on Thursday, by Friday the ivy was looking a bit withered on this 1934 Delage D6-11 S coach.

1963 Porsche 356 SC Coupe, Baillon Collection

A completely original model, the 1963 Porsche 356 SC coupe had been impounded by the police and rescued by Roger Baillon for 290 francs. It sold for a final $101,308.

Reactions to the state of affairs of the Collection were mixed from the onset of the discovery. During Wednesday evening’s cocktail party, graciously hosted by Sports Car Marketing, there were questions among fellow Americans attending Retromobile as to how such neglect could have persisted and opinions on how the new caretakers of these unrestored vehicles should handle their treasures. To answer some of the questions for myself, I delved into what triggered the automotive history I was now witnessing.

1936 Dynamic X76 Coupe Junior

Having seen many Panhard Levassors in the Schlumpf Collection two years ago, this 1936 Dynamic X76 Coupé Junior from the Baillon find, caught my eye. It sold for a final €56,024 ($63,486) with an original estimate between €25-35,000.

Historical write-ups portray Roger Baillon as having both a passion and talent for all things mechanical. He tried his hand at automobiles, building a special body for a Talbot T120, which he showed at the Paris Motor Show in 1947. His mechanical interests also expanded into aeronautics, working for Air France and the French Air Force. An entrepreneur at heart, he used his ingenuity to rebound after World War II, taking cheap or abandoned lorries — some army surplus vehicles — and refurbishing them, eventually expanding into an impressive transport business with the French chemical company, Melle-Bezons, as the major contract anchoring the company.

1952 Delahaye 235 Coach Chapron, Baillon Collection

As noted in the Artcurial catalogue, this 1952 Delahaye 235 coach Chapron is a rare Chapron ‘grand luxe’ version represented by bulging fenders. Only eight were made out of a total 41 sedans made by Chapron on the Delahaye 235 base.

Doing the math, Roger was around 38 years old when his passion for collecting vintage cars clicked in, during the early ‘50s. He had the ideal business to spot and transport vehicles — some even abandoned. His son Jacques inherited this passion for vintage cars and as the story goes both bought vintage cars, whatever their condition, sometimes buying from fellow car collectors. Buying was what they did, apparently rarely selling, as their intent was to follow the lead of other French collectors and restore all their beauties, and then open a museum. By the late 1960s the Baillons had assembled approximately 200 cars within about ten years which they parked under cover on the family estate in France.

160 Facel Excellence, Baillon Collection

One of the Baillon family drivers acquired in 1964, the 1960 Facel Excellence, retains its original Tudor Grey paintwork. It sold for a final $157,741.

What happened next intrigued me. Economic downturns can sneak up gradually, or in the case of Roger Baillon, apparently rather abruptly when he lost his major contract with Melle-Bezons. Cash-flow problems gave way to insolvency. In January 1978, the firm closed its doors. It was only two years earlier, as noted by Artcurial, that the ‘Schlumpf Affair’ took place. In that scenario, the government secured the Schlumpf Collection as assets, eventually protecting the fate of those beauties. In the case of the Baillon beauties, I couldn’t help but think that early on, only 98 vehicles escaped the fate I witnessed. In June 1979 sixty vehicles, most in their original condition, were sold at auction. Six years later in October 1985 a second auction was held with 38 vehicles escaping. After that, as Artcurial put it, the receiver called it a day, and the remaining 95 cars were left untouched on the grounds of the estate. Having walked the halls of the Cité de l’Automobile for hours, I was equally moved at the sight of the Schlumpf Collection, but for very different reasons.

1948 Delahaye 135 M Cabriolet, Baillon Collection

One of three known survivors, the 1948 Delahaye 135 M cabriolet Faget-Varnet rested proudly, a reflection of its days on display at the 1948 Paris Motor Show. Its rarity and beauty was appreciated as witnessed in a final sale price of $486,279.

So what happened next? Nothing. What’s logged in on Artcurial’s account is that mum was the word within the family regarding the remaining cars. A few trusted mechanics and workmen were allowed on the estate, but plans for the cars and the museum were abandoned.

As stated in the auction catalogue, it appeared as though Jacques made a purchase here and there, but for the most part, there was no more buying ... or selling, until the splash at Retromobile.

1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport Berlinetta, Baillon Collection

Suspended in time and space. The other show stopper, the 1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Berlinetta Frua came in double its estimate at $2,278,729.

In my humble opinion, I found the estimates published in the Artcurial auction catalog, all without reserves, to be very low. So when bidding escalated and final figures with premiums and taxes was reported, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me was the ‘warm-up’ to the auction.

The first part of the day’s auction was dedicated to automobilia. At the conclusion, there was to be an hour break, with the audience vacating the area, moving back into the room with the Collection. No one moved! Meanwhile, the crowds were gathering and being held back at the auction area entrances. Auction staff repeated announcements ... “there will be no auction, unless everyone leaves”.

By that time, I was afraid to budge. I worked my way back to the press area, staked out my spot and waited like everyone else. Bidder passes were being checked among those seated in the auction area. Crowds were huddling together. All of a sudden, with a roar, the floodgates opened and a reported crowd of 3500 poured in. Instantaneously, the mood changed from hostility to excitement. The lights dimmed ... it was show time!

Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport, Baillon Collection

The most photogenic from all angles. I couldn’t get enough of the Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport.

Bidding was fast-paced, with figures escalating beyond estimates on all of the cars. With 59 lots, the auctioneers moved quickly, speaking in English with bids flashing on the big screen in seven currencies. Unlike most American auctions, where the cars roll across the block, these cars remained in their resting places, while images before and after discovery were projected on the large screens.

1961 Ferrari GT SWB California Spider auction results, Baillon Collection

In a flash, it was all over. The final take home price paid for the 1961 Ferrari GT SWB California Spider was $18,457,562.

I have been asked, which cars were my favorites? Each one was unique in ways difficult for me to express. For some reason, I didn’t want to show favoritism. They seemed so exposed, yet courageous. For me, it was like looking at a large family… all with a special bond. They were pieces of art. I didn’t want to think of what they once looked like ... or their fates. I personally looked at them for what they were right there ... sleeping beauties.

Fellow motorsports enthusiast and writer, Ralf Berthiez and I collaborated on the photos, each capturing the same images simultaneously, through separate lenses. It was nice to realize someone else was as moved as I at this experience.

So, what is next? Obviously, my vision of this family was broken apart. I will be curious to watch as their new individual identities emerge. Will any stay together? Having been a part of this experience, I know I will be forever touched and will be moved as each reappears.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 19, 2015 Comments (0)

A Truncated Newsletter

Snow, shovels, ice dams, leaking light sockets, pails, and more snow to come ... you get the drift. After a huge storm in NYC, Johnny Carson once reported that Mayor Lindsay has discovered the solution to winter storms ... spring. Amen!

Peugeot grill, by Keith Carlson

Regular reader Keith Carlson shares his impression of this year’s Retromobile. Images of the Baillon Collection have a haunting quality which, all things considered, seems rather fitting.

Baillon Collection, by Keith Carlson

Michael Furman

Michael Furman

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia will be presenting a series of lectures on Automotive Photography. The opening lecture by Michael Furman is Saturday at 11:00 a.m. If you don’t already have plans, please consider attending. This week's image is Michael's photograph of a 1956 FB Mondial 250 Bialbero GP.

1956 FB Mondial 250 Bialbero GP, by Michael Furman

Resource Directory

Our featured supplier from the MMR Goods & Services Directory #2 is Exclusive Escapes, for all the right reasons. If your current environs present little opportunity for change in the near future, consider giving Exclusive Escapes a call and discussing options. The conversation alone could be uplifting.

Featured Classifieds

The Party, a film with Morgans and Peter Sellers

Early Morgans had three wheels and a 2 Cylinder air cooled motorcycle engine hanging off the front. In the award winning movie, The Party, Peter Sellers, playing the part of an accident-prone Indian actor in Hollywood, drives such a car throughout. This model was followed by a series of Morgan 4+4s which acquired a four cylinder engine and four wheels and came in different configurations and engine supplier packages. At one point, they were stretched out and sideways and fitted with a Rover V8. The “Plus 8” was our favorite Morgan, though all were interesting cars.

Have a great weekend and kindly forward this newsletter to everyone you know.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 12, 2015 Comments (0)

French Farm Yields Fantastic Crop

It is generally accepted that even on the same subject, “truth” and “fact” can differ substantially. MMR leans towards the truth as facts require an investment in staff and are not as entertaining. In the case of the Roger Baillon automobiles sold at Artcurial last week, the simple facts strain credulity and we present them as we know them.

The now-legendary Artcurial French Barn Find

The truth strains credulity but the facts are these. Roger Baillon was a successful trucker, truck manufacturer, and car collector in the 1950s. In the 1970s he suffered a financial reversal and sold 50 of his cars. The remaining 59 were stored on his estate farm where they remained contently rotting away until recently discovered and brought to the Artcurial Auction at Retromobile last week. The obvious questions about who, why, and what boggle the mind.

Artcurial Ferrari, French Barn Find

Alain DelonAnd the crowd went mad. Prices paid were hugely over the estimates and with the exception of the 250 GT California Ferrari formerly owned by French movie star Alain Delon (think France’s Rob Lowe) which was in at least recognizable shape, the remainder were in many cases mere shadows of their former selves, literally. Actually that’s not accurate; several of the units were missing important parts of their former selves and could not have therefore cast any shadow whatsoever.

The whole scrum reminds one of a line in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, The Mikado, where former executioner Ko-Ko has been informed that he must marry the unappealing Katisha. He quizzes her on the wisdom of the adventure and sings: There’s a fascination frantic with a ruin that’s romantic, do you fancy you are elderly enough? These Baillon neglects were indeed elderly enough and the bidding was both frantic and fascinating.

The message here: leave no rich old relative’s barn unturned. MMR faithful follower Keith Carlson attended the sessions in Paris and his images and report follow.

1957 Porsche 356A Speedster headlight, by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s image is a 1957 Porsche 356A Speedster headlight from Porsche Unexpected.

Speaking of Design, any comments on last week’s opening images of a 275 GTB Competition Ferrari? Our request for input regarding the Acura NSX produced the following from our community:

Kip Wasenko wrote, “The NSX was shown at the Detroit Auto Show for the past three years as a Concept Car. The production NSX unveiled this year retained the overall design shown in the past two Concepts. While the design is now familiar to those who closely watch the industry, I think the vehicle is conservatively handsome and will sell well to its target market. However, the design doesn’t have the styling impact of the Ford GT or the new Ferrari 488 GT.”

Kevin O’Leary wrote, “What CAD/CAM designer puked all over Nissan’s new Titan truck?”

Jim Earl wrote, “My daughter who is a real auto enthusiast made an interesting comment after seeing these two (Ford GT and NSX) ... ‘Maybe the toys such as the many transformers with their crazy shapes have influenced the current generation of designers’. As you may know, many of these articulated beings turn into transportation vehicles.”

Jane JetsonPaul Kalenian wrote, “I’m sure this new offering from Japan is well built and reliable but it’s as voluptuous as Jane Jetson. Bring back Norman Dewis.”

Tom Larsen wrote, “I had the first NSX and loved it. My vote goes to the Ford GT 40.”

Book Review

Dom Miliano has reviewed another in the series of Stance & Speed books about American built cars and we feature their ad in the recent MMR Goods & Services Directory #2. If you missed it, see our notice below.

Featured Classifieds

1950 Bentley Mk VI Park Ward Foursome Coupe

Our featured car model this week is Bentley. Here’s a marque that made its mark winning Le Mans four times consecutively between 1927 and 1930. The car and the “Bentley Boys” who financed it, built it, and raced it became motorsports legends. But the depression killed its market and saw it sold to Rolls-Royce in 1931. Bentley’s fortunes changed and for a period it became a poor sister in the Rolls Royce family. Then, Wafted by a favoring gale, As one sometimes is in trances, To a height that few can scale (sorry, The Mikado again) Bentley mercifully fell into the Audi camp and the name was rescued from ignominy. Today they have captured the imagination of those who want to be identified with dignified luxury and the hell-bent history of the Barnatos, Birkins, and Kidsons of yesteryear.

Have a great weekend, and please forward this to friends and encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter at this link.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 5, 2015 Comments (0)

Betwixt & Between

Early February is a little like being a teenager between girl friends. Nothing much goin’ on.

And then again ... On Design Courage

Cadillac CTS exterior grill

The Ford GT has prompted much discussion about design and the historical significance of design cues. As part of the Elegance by Design forum at the recent Arizona Concours d’Elegance, former Cadillac Chief Designer Kip Wasenko spoke of the difficulty he encountered trying to get acceptance for a design change involving the Cadillac grille. Despite the fact that his proposed “mesh” design performed significantly better and, even though it had roots in Cadillac’s historic 1931 V-16, he was still met with resistance. Yet like all good designers, he recognizes the value of history if it can be retained without sacrificing efficiency and performance. In a subsequent discussion about the Ford GT, he applauded Ford designers for maintaining the iconic design features of the classic GT40 in the front portion of the new Ford GT.

Acura NSX

Designers need the courage of their convictions and when the word “bold” is attached to a new car design, translate that into “courage” because someone risked to bring it past the expected, or, the status quo. The second big hit of the Detroit auto show was the new Acura NSX. Any thoughts?

And at F1

Honda Formula 1

First tests of the year for F1 cars at Jerez, Spain yielded surprising results. Usually an opportunity to run cars in and determine if everything works as designed these tests are also a clue as to where everyone is in their development program. From that point of view alone, Ferrari appear to have a car that is quick, reliable and satisfying to its drivers. Ferrari powered Sauber was quickest. The general consensus is that everyone must catch the Mercedes engine. Thus far both Honda and Renault have had troubled introductions. Ferrari has not. Early times but a sigh of relief from the tifosi.

Cavallino!

1965 Ferrari P206 SP Dino, Suixtil-USA

Suixtil-USA have been appointed US distributors for Suixtil vintage clothing for modern enthusiasts. Their handsome products were on display at Cavallino and Managing Partner Lisa Smith shot the eye candy we are using this week.

Somewhere in MMR History

Shelby GT350

We have always unabashedly supported those among us who use their toys, be they cars or motorcycles. Beyond that we encourage the use of newer technology and parts to improve the performance and reliability of older cars. Authentic, no. Better, probably. Our story this week is about a Shelby GT350 that has had an interesting life and as a result of it may be a better car than originally delivered. You judge.

BMW M5 Lives

Rahal, Gordon, Hendricks, BMW President

The BMW Car Club of America (CCA) Foundation announced today that the last unsold example of BMW’s most powerful production model ever – the 30th Anniversary Edition 2015 BMW M5 “30 JahreM5” - was auctioned at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 15, 2015 (Lot #3002) for a record setting $700,000. Famed NASCAR team owner and BMW dealer Rick Hendrick was the lucky bidder.

This Week

1958 BMW 507, by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s image is a 1958 BMW 507, shot for a private collector.

1957 Maserati 3500 GT Frua Spider

Our featured Classifieds are interesting Maserati 3500 GTs. When introduced, this car was more expensive than its Ferrari rival, the 275 GTB. It was considered a luxury touring car and was the first in its class to have power windows. It has a wonderful engine and is a joy to drive.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher