MMR Blog

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 January 8, 2015 Comments (0)

An Auspicious Beginning

Norman Dewis, OBE, and Jaguar Type C

Last week we joyfully announced that popular Jaguar representative Norman Dewis has received an OBE from the Queen and was to be knighted. We thank Alain de Cadenet for kindly pointing out that there are four basic grades leading to Knighthood and that Norman is on the second. He is an Officer and can now attach the letters OBE to the end of his name. Alain closed his message with a fitting and generous comment about Norman Dewis OBE that we will happily share: “Norman made a tremendous contribution to Jaguar and helped bring it onwards and upwards after WWII. Remember how broke poor old Britain was in 1945 … Norman is an object lesson to everyone with his tenacity, love of his work, and the simple fact that he is still breathing easily. A lovely man all round.”

My Motorsports Resources (MMR)

A number of you wrote to comment positively on our change of nomenclature. My Motorsports Resources appears to have struck a positive chord. Thank you.

A Less than Pleasant Beginning

james Allison, Ferrari

In the past three weeks, Ferrari has, as the expression goes, “cleaned house”. As Motor Sport’s Mark Hughes reports in its February issue, “As things stand, in one season the team has lost one president, two team principals, the engine chief, engineering chief, chief designer, chief strategist and chief tyre engineer.” That leaves technical boss James Allison to put together a team that can supply a car that can win for drivers Raikkonen and Vettel. It begs the question: What was Vettel thinking? And what is he thinking NOW?


Passing Notes

Actor and Master of Ceremonies at Pebble Beach, Edward Hermann

Edward Hermann, TV actor, car enthusiast, the Master of Ceremonies of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and who hosted the show Automobiles on The History Channel, has passed.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Frenchman Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Formula 1 race driver for Matra and BRM died at the age of seventy-seven. He was a teammate to Sir Jackie Stewart for Ken Tyrrell and later had his only GP win at Monaco in a BRM in 1972. He was married to Francois Cevert’s sister. Cevert was also a teammate of Jackie Stewart and was killed at Watkins Glen in 1973.

Image by Gene Ritvo

This week’s eye candy is from the  Gene Ritvo Portfolio in our MMR Photo Galleries. Gene was an excellent photographer and passionate car and motorcycle enthusiast. He helped us launch MMR and we display his work not in sadness, because he also has passed, but in celebration of the beauty he was capable of capturing with a camera.


Monthly Features

Hatch and Sons Mercedes W113 Pagoda SL

This week’s  MMR Classy Classifieds feature four different Mercedes W113 Pagoda SLs. These cars have a devoted following and despite the fact that they were built between 1963 and 1971 are still quite modern and usable cars. The 230SL is available from Fantasy Junction, in California, the 250SL from Cooper cars in NYC, the 280SL from Copley Motorcars, and 280SLR is a V8 powered special prepared by noted restorer Hatch & Sons.

Michael Furman image of 1937 Delage Coupe

Michael Furman’s image this week is the 1937 Delage Coupe from his book Curves of Steel.

Our Home page MMR Video this week is back by popular request, it is film maker Wes Anderson’s (Grand Budapest Hotel) short comedy entitled  Castello Cavalcanti.

Paul Newman Print by Chris Osborne

From the  MMR Goods and Services Directory, we display a page from our most recent publication. It features original artwork by Chris Osborne, depicting Paul Newman at his favorite track, Lime Rock, with his favorite car.

Vintage MGA photo and TR3 image

Our Sixties Retrospective continues. We feature our short personal reminiscence of the sixties British competitors, the MGA and the Triumph TR3.

That’s it for this week. We are in Phoenix for the Arizona Concours d’Elegance and we hope to see you there. If not, we’ll send pictures. Suixtil-USA’s Lisa Smith has scouted out the Phoenix-Scottsdale area for suitable restaurants and her guide follows.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 31, 2014 Comments (0)

Le Mans Start

Photo by M. Keyser.

A Fine Beginning

In a recent conversation with a good friend and MMR Community Newsletter subscriber, he asked a startling question: What is MMR all about?

Coincidentally, two clever ladies affiliated with MMR suggested that some people did not know what MMR, Motorsports Marketing Resources, meant. They suggested we change the name to My Motorsports Resources and we agreed. That explains the different heading of this week’s Newsletter.

My Motorsports Resources: Information related to European cars and motorcycles. The MMR Goods & Services Directory is the essence of our being. It helps companies and people find Goods & Services that let them enjoy their vehicles and our sport. From restoration specialists to art, literature, luggage, clothing, and convertible top repairs to cleaning supplies, sunglasses, storage and shoes, rallies, restaurants, driving schools, and special insurance. We list over 10,000 researched Goods & Services in 350 categories. Some are not on the internet. Check us out. You will be amazed.

MMR Goods and Services Directory

This week’s featured G & S Directory supplier is  Volante Classics, offering America’s largest inventory of original Alfa Romeos.


Michael Furman’s image is a 1937 Delage Coupe from his book Curves of Steel.

1937 Delage Coupe, by Michael Furman


2014-2015 Racing

2014 is, as they say, in the books. While the various racing series in our sport fared differently, at this point all appear to have survived and all are prepping for 2015. Our  2015 MMR Motorsport Calendar is up and for those of you who haven’t yet subscribed or didn’t even know, it has an RSS feed that will send you timely alerts about upcoming events.

24 Hours of Daytona

BTW, January is a surprisingly busy month. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona kicks off the 2015 season of the Tudor Sports Car Series. In an interview with the PRI (Performance Racing Industries) December show issue, NASCAR’s Jim France, who alongside ALMS’s Don Panoz, spearheaded the combining of the competing Grand-Am and ALMS series, explained that 2014 was an excellent year for the combined effort at every level. What heartened us was his comment that the series management would convert the current classes into Le Mans Prototype and FIA GT3 rules, two years ahead of projection. 2017 will see Europe and North America competing by the same Le Mans/WEC rules. That is great news for sports car racing fans, manufacturers, and track promoters.

Incidentally, MMR will attend the Arizona Concours d’Elegance on January 11th. We hope to see you there.


Racemaker Book Review: Lyn St. James, An Incredible Journey

An Incredible Journey, by Lyn St. JamesWhile attending last September’s fun filled Santa Fe Concorso, we had the opportunity to spend some time with Lyn St. James. She participated with other Indy car drivers in a most entertaining panel discussion. Subsequently, we read and enjoyed her excellent book An Incredible Journey. In this issue her book is reviewed by our own intrepid motorsports enthusiast Sandy Cotterman.

We thank you for your support in 2014 and wish you a Happy New Year. Please don’t forget to support our sponsors and, now that you know all about it, visit our MMR Goods & Services Directory.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher