MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 28, 2015 Comments (0)

Monaco – Indy – Villa d’Este Results

Ferrari 212 Europa

The Memorial Day weekend races dominated the TV screens of America but for New England enthusiasts a pair of happy events meant more. Internationally, at Italy's Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance, Essex Ma. based Paul Russell & Co presented a 212 Vignale Coupe and won the Trofeo BMW Group Classic award. The award is the jury’s choice for the most sensitive restoration. The 1952 212 Europa, Vignale Berlinetta is owned by Bradley Calkins of the USA. The car is stunning. Congratulations to all involved. The remainder of our eye candy also came from Villa d’Este. Thank you BMW for sponsoring this superb event. On the racing front, New Englanders were absorbing the news, announced on Thursday past, that Boston will host the final race of the 2016 IndyCar season. We have mixed feelings. Read on McDuff and tell us what you think.

F1 Monaco: Rosberg wins – Mad Max Steals Hearts!

Lewis trails at F1 Monaco

Lewis Trails in Third

When enthusiasts tire of the beautiful setting, the beautiful boats, and the beautiful people, there will no longer be a race in Monaco. Long recognized as the most exclusive tax haven in the world (rumor has it that citizenship applications require proven assets in excess of seven uninterrupted digits), its days of hosting a truly competitive F1 race are in its distant past. Its crowning achievement is its downfall. This is the only F1 track in the world where excellence is demanded because there is literally no room for error. Yet the entertainment of racing consists of high speeds and errors, forced and unforced, which allow pressing and passing and in a word, entertainment. Hamilton proved the rule; he qualified best and would have won but for an error by his pit which caused him to lose. Sad for him but good for racing. On purpose-built race courses such as Laguna Seca or Silverstone, or the long course at Nurburgring, or road courses such as Spa or Le Mans, where houses and harbors do not inhibit passing, Hamilton may have had to defend, take chances, make errors and oblige his fellow competitors to do the same. Not so at Monaco. He had the fastest car, and all he needed do was be in front and not make errors.

But even a parade needn’t always be a bore. A comparison could be made to the historic 1981 Spanish GP at the narrow and twisty Jarama circuit. Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve (See Villeneuve’s 5 greatest races) qualified seventh in the Ferrari 126CXK, a powerful car with atrocious handling. He dubbed it a “big red Cadillac”. He was third by the first corner. Villeneuve passed the second place car on the opening lap and later, when race leader John Watson made a mistake, he passed him to take the lead. For the remainder of the race, without blocking or weaving, he held off competitors by placing the car in situations that discouraged his competitors from passing. It was brilliant driving. The first five cars crossed the line within 1.24 seconds.

Lewis is still scratching his head - what happened?

Lewis Still Scratching His Head - What Happened?

Sunday’s race, which for television purposes focused primarily on the leaders, was simply another high speed parade. Two exceptions that kept it from being a complete bore were, one, the pass for the lead that took place while Hamilton was in the pits. As a result he came out of the pits with eight laps to go, superior tires, and a superior car to Vettel’s Ferrari but couldn’t pass him. Makes you wonder what Villeneuve might have done. And, two, Max Verstappen. His pass on Maldonado on lap 6 was brilliant, and gutsy. It reminded us of Villeneuve. Later on he crashed while trying to pass the other Lotus driver, Romain Grosjean. Verstappen said Grosjean eased off 10-15 meters early. The telemetry didn’t support that. Grosjean actually braked later. Max VerstappenBut young Max was caught short of room when he decided to pass on the right while sitting too far to the left of the Lotus. Prior to that, after in the process of allowing Vettel to lap him, Max tucked in behind the Ferrari and taking advantage of the blue flags that waved other drivers aside for the faster Vettel, he thus slipped past Sainz and Bottas. But it was a short lived tactic once word got back to the pits. Clever though. My guess is that the Montreal fans will love this “special” kid (Mad Max?) when he arrives at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian GP in two weeks. As for Hamilton, it had to be a huge disappointment. And there were probably several ways to handle it. He was perfunctorily correct. His teammate rival was also in an awkward, though happier, situation and acknowledged same. But grace under pressure continues to elude Hamilton.

IndyCar Indianapolis 500: Penske – Ganassi Driver Wins!

Montoya on podiumThe major difference between Monaco and Indy is striking. At Monaco, the leader into the first turn generally wins the race. At Indy, the car leading the last lap generally loses. On this Sunday, both proved untrue.

Fifteen years ago, 24-year-old Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 for Chip Ganassi’s Target Team. On Sunday, 15 years later, he won it again. This time for Ganassi’s arch rival, Roger Penske’s Verizon Team. In the meantime he has spent time with McLaren in F1 and struggled for seven years in NASCAR. When Ganassi cut him loose from the NASCAR team last year, it would have been easy to believe that at 38 years of age, he was done. And JPM, whose reputation could be considered mercurial at best, found little sympathy. But Roger Penske, against whom he has competed in both the old Champ Car days and currently in NASCAR, called him and offered an opportunity, not in NASCAR, but in IndyCar. He jumped at the opportunity to come back. It was a mellowed and thankful JPM, surrounded by family, who accepted tributes in the winner’s circle. A pleasant change from the combative and often surly demeanor he has presented over the years. The new Juan Pablo has been a strong addition to the Penske Team and this win for Montoya was validation of his worth. Possibly even in his own eyes.

An aside: The race was between these two major Chevy teams, and for the third IndyCar race in a row, the first single car team was the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda powered team with driver Graham Rahal who finished fifth, is fifth in the points standings, and the leading American driver.

The final five laps were frantic as Will Power, Montoya, and Scott Dixon swapped the lead 15 times in five laps. It was ballsy racing and damned dangerous too. But they trusted each other and each knew when to give up a little space and so it all worked out. This is what racing is all about.

Michael Furman – Photographer

Michael Furman, photo of 1995 Porsche Carrera RS

Our Michael Furman image is of a 1995 Porsche Carrera RS from his book, Porsche Unexpected.

Featured Video

This week's featured video is our interview with Hugh Ruthven from The Finish Line — importers of the Chapal line and other “best in class” vintage style driving gear. Enjoy!

Our featured Classified Cars

Spring time and the open road beckons. What better way is there to enjoy this most-special of seasons than in a new-to-you classic car. Maybe even a convertible. Check out our picks in the  MMR Classifieds.

The MMR featured product, from our  Goods & Services Directory, is the Classic Bell-Chapal helmet from The Finish Line.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on April 16, 2015 Comments (0)

F1 - China Ho Hum

Empty F1 Grandstands

Shanghai, China: Following an exciting Malaysian GP, hopes were high that China would produce another close race between two teams. It didn’t and it did. The first six spots returned to form and Mercedes, chagrined by their loss in Race #2, emphatically and depressingly controlled every facet of Race #3.

Meanwhile back in the remainder of the field, the once mighty Red Bulls were beaten by lowly Lotus and Sauber and McLaren, the perennial challenger with the second most successful GP record of all modern day teams finished one lap down and trounced only Marussia. Sad.

For the top four cars, Mercedes and Ferrari, this was a race determined by tire degradation. For those watching on TV, color commentators, with the aid of intercepted team-driver communications, interpreted what passed as drama. Pity the poor people in the stands who, without access to even that sad explanation, paid serious money and watched a 90 minute parade interspersed with lightning fast pit stops.

Press: Autoweek.com reports that after the event, China GP organizers lamented the steadily declining quality of the F1 show. Their accompanying image showed stands filled with empty seats. Fascinating.

IndyCar - Nola Contendere

Rainy Pit Lane at IndyCar in New Orleans

New Orleans, LA: It is really quite amazing how, blessed with a field of competitive cars and many talented drivers, the crucial ingredient for good racing (and quite the opposite of F1), IndyCar still manages to produce a mediocre product. Sunday’s event on the outskirts of New Orleans was halted after 47 laps because TV time ran out. James Hinchcliffe stayed out when everyone else pitted on lap 33, and the race was called before he ran out of fuel.

Press: Racer.com ran an excellent commentary by print and oft times TV pit lane reporter Robin Miller. In it he decried the suitability of the track, the size of the crowd (8,000 maybe), and the IndyCar organization. In a piece entitled IndyCar Fans Deserve Better, he complained about the shame of running races on such courses when real race courses like Watkins Glen, Mosport, CoTA, Road Atlanta, and Road America go begging. Not to mention Mt.Tremblant and Lime Rock Park.

WEC Silverstone 6 hours: Audi Again

Silverstone 6 Hours

Silverstone, UK: First race of the season and primer for Le Mans in June, last year’s LMP1 World Endurance Championship (WEC) winning Audi finished first and fifth. Porsche was 4.6 seconds behind in second and Toyota Racing was another 10 seconds back in third and one lap down in fourth. Ligier/Nissan cars were sixth and seventh overall and first in LMP2. In GTE Pro, Ferrari beat Porsche and Aston Martin. In GTE Am, Aston Martin beat Ferrari and Porsche. This was the first race of the year, next comes SPA, on the same weekend as the Tudor IMSA race at CoTA. This is great racing and hopefully some broadcaster will pick it up for TV. We will, of course, see the Le Mans race.

Michael Furman - Photographer

This week’s Michael Furman image is detail of a 1959 Porsche 356A Carrera GS GT from his book Porsche Unexpected.

1959 Porsche 356A Carrera GS GT by Michael Furman

Classifieds

This week’s selected cars from MMR Classifieds are several interesting Porsches.

Eye Candy

Ferrari Interior, Amelia Island, by Bengt Persson

The eye candy this week is from the recent Amelia Island Concours event. We thank friend and MMR supporter Bengt Persson for his wonderful images. Circumstances dictated that Bengt was actually unable to attend the Concours but was fortunate enough to be there on Saturday and his work proves that people and surroundings contribute much to making images of even the most beautiful cars just a little more interesting.

Sandy’s Dino Image

Ferrari Dino, Amelia Island Concours, by Sandy Cotterman

Also at Amelia, Sandy Cotterman took a picture of a winning Ferrari Dino that had recently been prepared by Paul Russell and Co. of nearby Essex, MA. Unbeknownst to us at the time, this car is also the cover image for a forthcoming book by Michael Keyser about his close friend Jonathan Williams.

Shooting Star on a Prancing Horse, book cover, by Michael Keyser

Michael brought Jonathan to us and you can  read his Le Mans 1970 story here. The book will be available late summer.


From our MMR Goods & Services Directory we feature a brilliant garage lift for us amateurs. It’s finally getting warm enough to do some work out there.

F1 is in Bahrain this weekend.

Have a great one. And don’t forget to subscribe a friend who will thank you forever! And so will we.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


Sandy on Assignment: Great Friends and Great Cars ... The Amelia Island Concours Car Week

Posted on March 19, 2015 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Taking final bows, Best in Show Concours de Sport (L), David Sydorick’s 1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and Concours d’Elegance winner from the Ed and Judy Schoenthaler Collection, the 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster.

Heading into a repeat event, I am always a bit anxious, wondering what on earth am I going to discover that is new to write about. This year I tried to stay calm, knowing that something would eventually hit me and make the weekend simply magical … and it did!

There is no other way for me to describe the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend than ... precious. Even after 20 years, it sparkles and is one of those events where, no matter who you are, you feel welcomed and a part of the excitement.

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE was this years Concours honoree.

1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

It was a thrill watching Andreas Mohringer from Salzburg, Austria take Best in Class, Race Cars (1960-1990), with his 1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, recently restored by Paul Russell and Company.

Last year, at 9:30 Sunday morning, I blinked my eyes and a mass of spectators ascended onto the show field. It was all over for me. I couldn’t even take pictures. This year was another story; even with over 32,000 spectators mingling among 315 show cars and motorcycles. The entire weekend seemed to stretch, giving everyone in attendance more time, more space and even more events to really get into everything auto!

When I head to Amelia, I’m Buddy Palumbo on the open road. I leave Clearwater before sunrise, driving north, top down and wind blowing in my face. For those flying into Jacksonville, it’s a very convenient airport to maneuver. My first year of lodging at Amelia was at the Day’s Inn. I graduated up from there and thanks to VRBO return annually to a fabulous villa within walking distance to the Ritz, joined by equally fabulous housemates… for less than the current Day’s Inn rate. It’s all about planning ahead!

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The ex-Marlene Dietrich, multiple best in show winner, the 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton (L) brought a final $742,500 at Bonhams.

1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Selling for a final $1,738,000 at Bonhams, I remembered this 1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster on the 2014 Amelia show field.

1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

With impeccable provenance, this 1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, a featured marque at this year’s Amelia Concours, brought a final $1,012,000 at the Bonhams auction.

As part of the stretchy weekend, Bonhams debuted their Amelia auction, with previews on Wednesday and the auction Thursday midday - the reason to arrive on Wednesday. I managed to work my way through a crowd gathering around Wayne Carini to speak with a woman who for some reason looked familiar. We started to chat about the Austin-Healey she was selling ... then bingo, it hit me. I had seen the episode on Chasing Classic Cars when Wayne visited her home. I felt like I knew her! The coveted 1956 Austin-Healey 100M BN2 Le Mans belonged to her late husband, shown in pristine preservation condition with only 37,000 miles from new. The car brought a final price of $206,800, as part of $13.95M in total sales for Bonhams.

For my own continuing education, I find auction previews an excellent opportunity to learn. As hard as it is, I keep my mouth shut and just lean in, snapping images of what’s wrong ... and what’s right ... especially of my own marque, Jaguar. At the RM auction in London last fall, I slipped and made a comment about the reflectors on a Jag. The gentleman who overheard me sparked up a conversation — he was the long-time owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which had recently sold! I was ecstatic since I had marveled over the transporter at Goodwood and also at the Mille Miglia! So sure enough at Bonhams, a gentleman asked me why I was taking so many pictures. We chatted, exchanged business cards and bingo ... my magical weekend was clicking into gear! This very low-key gentleman was none other than Formula 1 legend Howden Ganley. With strong ties to Bruce McLaren and 41 F1 Championship Grand Prix starts to his credit, I was thrilled to have the privilege of meeting him. Ganley was one of the featured authors during the weekend, autographing his new autobiography, The Road to Monaco, My Life in Motor Racing.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sitting pretty, this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet brought a premium sale of $2,090,000 at the Gooding auction.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A $10,862,500 picture! In front, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff sold for $2,337,500. On its pedestal in the rear, the stunning 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pinin Farina brought $6,380,000 and barely in sight is the Jaguar XJR-9.

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9

Auction sales were strong this year with RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction breaking records, garnering $60,328,550 in sales. Although catalogue estimates were aggressive, hammer prices reflected the market. Gooding & Company brought in $26,967,150 in sales, bringing the weekend take for all three major auction houses to over $101M!

Enjoying another thrill, I watched friend and racing legend Davy Jones slip into the familiar seat of the TWR Castrol Jaguar XJR-9 #388. Along with fellow drivers Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers, Jones took this winning race car to an overall first place win at the 1990, 24 hours of Daytona. With an aggressive catalogue estimate of $3-5,000,000, the hammer price on the Jaguar XJR-9 came in half the estimated range, at $1,950,000.

Along with celebrating my fifth Amelia Concours weekend came a comfort level with what’s what and where to find everything. Even though most of the off-site events can be reached by complimentary shuttles from the Ritz, having a car lets you venture into Fernandina Beach and over towards the Amelia Island Plantation to enjoy local restaurants ... Ciao Italian Bistro on Center Street and Plae at the Plantation are favorites.

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE.

A unique sanctioned Amelia Concours event, the duPont REGISTRY LIVE Aeroport Party Friday evening is a must, especially if you have never attended a hangar party. Graciously hosted by Tom and Ruth duPont, admission supports the Amelia Concours charities. Guests meander among classic and exotic cars in several airport hangars, while enjoying live music, unique entertainment and excellent food, orchestrated by Tim Webber and The Coordinator event company. It is my favorite evening of the weekend!

Youngest junior judge takes a break in the 1968 Lamborghini Miura, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

This year’s youngest junior judge takes a break in the Hagerty Children’s Award winner, the 1968 Lamborghini Miura.

The Amelia Island Cars and Coffee is definitely a family affair, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The Amelia Island Cars & Coffee is definitely a family affair!

The beauty of this Amelia Concours weekend is the ability to see it all. Auction preview times are generous, affording time to incorporate Friday’s Porsche Drive Experience, Saturday’s Cars & Coffee, test drives, and seminars with automobilia exhibits in between. The new MotorXpo offered a nice diversion on Sunday, stretching the crowds across a second venue. I was thrilled to see Tommy Kendall moderate the Car Guys of Television Seminar on Saturday. MMR readers followed his adventures as he drove the Viper at Le Mans in 2013. I had a chance to catch up with Tommy right after Sunday’s awards. I think we will be seeing more of him on television than on the track!

The most important rule for attending motorsports events and the one I consistently break is ... read the program first ... not on the ride home. The program should be your bible, when it comes to attending the concours.

What can I say, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

What can I say?

The Cars of the Cowboys seemed to be everywhere! What on earth were they thinking? Apparently, living their television screen lives through their daily drivers!

1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A class of their own, Forgotten Fiberglass, Best in Class went to the 1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II (R) with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona receiving the 2015 Amelia Award.

This year’s concours program featured articles written by individuals I know! Just over the pond from me in Tampa, Geoff Hacker is tenaciously resurrecting history along with Forgotten Fiberglass enthusiasts. The connections he has made with people and cars are fascinating.

1932 Ford Highboy Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A winner on the show field, Bruce Meyer’s 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster is featured on the Hot Rod commemorative U.S Postal Service stamp, marking the 20th anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

The more classic cars I see, the more I wonder what was going on in my life to have totally missed the automobiles’ contributions to history! I poured over the article written by Ken Gross about the origin of the hot rods, on the ride home. Hot rodding, as we know it, started on the West Coast in the early 1930s, most likely by mechanically minded servicemen looking for a way to combine their talents with their love of automobiles.

So what made this weekend magical? It was a weekend of admiring great cars and attending great auctions, but, most importantly, connecting with great friends! Friends all brought together, through a car connection.

There is nothing in the world like car friends!


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.