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Gstaad / Switzerland, December 19, 2003

A tradition
Michel Lepeltier
The sale of the Lepeltier collection
Other car of interest
One-off: 330 GT / 500 Superfast Speciale s/n 6267SF
The Daytona in its variants

Splendid and less splendid cars
Bargain of the day
Sale rate would have been rather bad without the Lepeltier Collection

Michel Lepeltier
The story of this collection is a tragic one: Michel Lepeltier was a garage and petrol station owner from Geneva who compiled an impressive collection of road going Ferrari GT cars over a period of 25 years. His stable of 14 Ferrari was his only hobby and passion aside from his demanding job, but it also became his cruel fate: On April 16, 1990 two teenagers ambushed Michel Lepeltier at his home, intending to steal his recently acquired Ferrari F40. In a scuffle with the robbers, he was shot dead. While the criminal youngsters were later caught and sentenced for minor offences only due to a lack of proofs and because of their age, the companies of the Lepeltier family soon went bankrupt and Michel’s widow Denise had to hand over her husband’s collection to the bankruptcy court of Geneva. The cars were since rather ”stuffed away” than kept in an underground car park and left to deterioration. Finally the decision was made to sell all cars in the 2003 Bonhams Ferrari auction at the Palace Hotel in Gstaad.

The sale of the Lepeltier collection
Michel Lepeltier’s 308 GTB Vetroresina (s/n 19275) in an extremely rare lime green colour (”Verde Germoglio”) that had only covered 7.935 kms. from new was the first car in the sale. Fitted with a non-original exhaust system and some mildew on the passenger seat, it fetched 45.948,-SFr — almost 34.400,-€ for its German buyer after the German VAT will have been paid upon the hammer price. A strong result for a 308 GTB Vetroresina that for sure reflects its original mileage and its rare and spectacular colour. Likewise remarkable were the 190.632,-SFr that were paid for Lepeltier’s yellow, one-owner-from-new 365 GTB/4 Daytona (s/n 15069) by an enthusiast from northern Germany. Swiss dealer Carlo Perego paid 300.855,-SFr for Lepeltiers metallic gold 275 GTB/2 Shortnose, s/n 06827. Interestingly, its typical 1960’s / early 1970’s colour was NOT original: The metallic silvergrey paint could be seen on several spots beneath the car’s current livery. Michel Lepeltiers 250 GT Lusso (s/n 4509GT) had been the car that started off his passion when he bought it as a used car in 1965. The burgundy example had had a major crash repair in Italy in its first year that has obviously been carried out very carefully since it is hardly visible on the car. Despite of that, together with the 275 GTS with badly repaired accident damage (190.632,-SFr), Lepeltier’s 250 GT Lusso was the poorest in the collection in regard to its condition. The well-known French dealer Jean Guikas of GTC S.A.R.L. fame paid 240.232,-SFr for this two-owner Lusso — a lot if one thinks about the work that is needed to bring the car to presentable condition. Another low mileage-car from the collection was the 512 BB s/n 30865 that Michel Lepeltier had bought new on March 12, 1979. With only 9.067 kms. on the odometer, it will stay in Swiss ownership for 96.942,-SFr. A lovely yellow Dino 246 GT (s/n 06024) was one of a very few cars that Michel Lepeltier had restored. At 85.920,-SFr, it represented a good and realistic buy. The speedometer of the F40 from the collection showed 3.078 kms. Several buyers started a bidding contest on it; eventually it was hammered to a family friend for 366.989,-SFr. ”Michel Lepeltier etait un ami et un bon homme!” (”Michel Lepeltier was a friend and a righteous man!”) proclaimed the buyer, gaining applause from the attendants. The highly original, metallic silvergrey 275 GTB/4 fetched 504.768,-SFr, reportedly paid by an Italian enthusiast. Lepeltiers 288 GTO went for 344.944,-SFr to the garage of Carlo Perego. The ”creampuff” of the Lepeltier collection, the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta s/n 2649GT that had received a modified nose with covered headlights in the early 1970’s, was sold for 1.050.372,-SFr to collector Dr. Mauro Bompani of Modena/Italy. According to Dr. Bompani, he will have the car restored back to its original specifications. After all, it seems that the sale of the Lepeltier collection was a hidden no reserve sale since virtually all cars were sold, some of them clearly below the lower estimate.

A tradition
The Bonhams Ferrari auction has been the last Ferrari highlight of the season in meanwhile six consecutive years by now. Always held in the prestigious Palace Hotel in the world famous winter resort of Gstaad in Switzerland, the Bonhams sale has become the only auction that is dedicated exclusively to the marque from Maranello and thus usually attracts the ”Crème de la Crème” of the international Ferrari family - be it either in Gstaad or on the phone. In 2003, the auction was scheduled for Friday, December 19.

The picturesque setting of the small but super-exclusive Swiss mountain village was once more underlined by a lovely white cover of snow, providing the typical ”pre-Christmas atmosphere” that is so helpful for an auction. 35 Ferrari automobiles had been announced for the sale, the majority of them being part of a collection that was hammered after spending years hidden in a Geneva underground car park.

Other car of interest
The initially oldest car of the auction, a 212 Inter with a replica ”Touring Barchetta” body by Allegretti, s/n 0183EL, was withdrawn since it was pre-sold some days earlier. So, eventually Wilfried De Buck’s rare 1952 342 America Coupé Pinin Farina, s/n 0246AL,  was the most aged Ferrari of the day. It remained unsold at 440.000,-SFr — surprisingly, since this is the typical car for American enthusiasts to buy, to restore and to present at a Concours d’Elégance. Probably the weak Dollar kept one or another American buyer from bidding. Although in Belgian ownership, s/n 0246AL is registered tax-free on Guernsey — a reason that may have kept EU-citizens from a purchase, too. The second oldest Ferrari wasn’t sold in the auction either: 250 GT Coupé Boano s/n 0521GT was modified for historic motor racing, including an upgraded spare-engine (the original engine would have come with the car), non-original air-vents in the fenders, an outside fuel filler cap, a roll-bar and the removal of the bumpers. Bidding stopped at 180.000,-SFr, but at the time of this writing, an aftersale was still pending. Swiss dealer Carlo Perego did not just buy two cars in the auction, he had also entered two cars in the sale: 250 GT Lusso s/n 4591GT and 275 GTB/4 s/n 10627, both of which remained unsold. A rare 330 America was sold for 75.814,-SFr to a telephone bidder — who might soon be surprised to find out that no magnet was willing to get stuck on almost the entire front section…

One-off: 330 GT / 500 Superfast Speciale s/n 6267SF
A very interesting lot was the 330 GT / 500 Superfast Speciale s/n 6267SF from the collection of Erich Traber: This Ferrari combines a 500 Superfast chassis (stamped ”SF 6267”) and a 500 Superfast body with a 330 GT engine. The chassis number plate in the engine compartment, however, reads ”330 GT”. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands had been the original owner of this unique Ferrari, and he did order it ”tailor-made” to his needs. Why he did choose the four-litre 330 GT engine instead of the five-litre 500 Superfast aggregate is unknown. Now s/n 6267SF found a new home in the Netherlands at 422.100,-SFr.

The Daytona in its variants
A black German-owned 365 GTB/S4 Daytona Spyder conversion by Richard Straman changed hands in the aftersale for 245.743,-SFr and will stay in Germany. Another 365 GTB/4 Daytona had been converted by far more radically: s/n 15275 is the famous Shooting Break by Panther Westwinds. Following the idea and the design of Luigi ”Coco” Chinetti, Jr. and an American customer, English specialist Robert Jankel handcrafted a spectacular and unusual two-door Station Wagon on the then brand new Daytona chassis. Although its looks are a matter of taste and although the entirely re-designed interior is rather disgusting, this Ferrari remains an unique item in the Ferrari history. Nick-named ”The Hearse” by Bonhams Europe president Simon Kidston, s/n 15275 remained unsold at a high bid of 320.000,-SFr. The owner, Paris-based one-off station wagon-collector Jean-Claude Paturau, had expected about twice the amount of money, but the author, too, is afraid that the high bid probably represents all the money in the world for this car.

Daytonas could be bought in all variants this time at Gstaad, and so the star of the auction was a 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione, s/n 15685. The ex-N.A.R.T. team car from the ownership of Swiss collector Jean-Pierre Slaviç does not have its original engine any longer after Chinetti’s team swapped it with the one of s/n 13855 back in its racing days. It is unknown whether this was the reason for that bidding stopped at 1.4 million Swiss Francs — two million would have been needed to convince the owner to part from this very competitive car.

Splendid and less splendid cars
The probably best restored Ferrari of the day was a model that usually doesn’t attract that much (financial) attention: A dark metallic grey 365 GTC/4, completely restored to concours condition some years ago by renowned Swiss specialist Bruno Wyss. Entered by Wyss in the sale, the vendor eventually bought his own car back for 130.009,-SFr — probably the record breaking price for a 365 GTC/4 since the early 1990’s! A nice 365 GT4 BB in rare ”Rosso Dino” (orange) was sold for 113.476,-SFr, reportedly to a Hong Kong resident Italian. This plain orange car did definitely lack its black ”Boxer trim” on the lower body section that would complete its very original look. Obviously dreaming of the times of the ”Ferrari hausse” in the late 1980’s was the French owner of a 400 GT Cabriolet, s/n 23647: Converted when new by the German company ”Con-Moda” of Cologne, this red convertible showed a virtually horrible paint and a rough engine compartment, combined with a so-so conversion. The high bid of 58.000,- Swiss Francs was rather sensational in the eyes of the author, but the vendor apparently had the hopeless idea of getting about 90.000,-SFr…

Bargain of the day
A real bargain was the 512 BBLM s/n 30559, the second car in the sale coming from Jean-Pierre Slaviç’s garage. Fitted with a normal 512 BB engine
** block, the racecar surprisingly didn’t motivate anyone to bid more than 400.000,-SFr. The lucky buyer, French dealer Jean Guikas, had to pay only 444.145,-SFr in total. Another racecar, and the last one of the sale, was the 550 GT of French team ”Red Racing”. The FIA GT warhorse failed to sell at 340.000,-SFr, probably because of the fact that it will not be competitive against the Prodrive-550 GTS *and the 575 GTC in the 2004 season, while collectors are not too motivated buyers for non-official racecar conversions.

Sale rate would have been rather bad without the Lepeltier Collection
If one looks at the results, it turns out that this auctions’ sale rate would have been rather bad if Bonhams would not have secured the prestigious sale of the Lepeltier Collection for this venue. The cars from this collection were apparently sold at no reserve, although this was not mentioned in the catalogue nor officially announced. All the Lepeltier cars were in either original or bad condition, reflecting their long neglect. Needing at least a big service, the purchase of a car from the collection could soon turn out as a very costly adventure for the buyers. Some cars were sold at rather modest prices, too, of course. But the chance to buy a Ferrari out of a almost ”forgotten” collection did obviously generate some sort of a hunter’s instinct in many enthusiasts that made them forget about the undiscovered and expensive-to-solve technical problems that cars coming from a long time storage usually bear as well as of the import taxes. This does of course not affect a ”blue chip car” like the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta or the 275 GTB/4. The fact that many examples had a remarkably low mileage and just one or two owner(s) did naturally help the auctioneers since this still is a most desired quality of collector cars.

Two ”big bangers” like the 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione or the 342 America failed to sell, while good quality or cheap examples changed hands. The expectations for the Daytona Shooting Break and the 400 GT Cabriolet Conversion were simply illusionary. With some exceptions, the material entered in the sale aside from the Lepeltier Collection was not spectacular, nor in attractive condition. This reflects the situation of the European market that is plagued by the weak economic situation: The owners of good-quality cars wisely decide not to part from them at this time since the latter doesn’t promise satisfying results, and the buyers keep their money for desirable examples instead of spending it on dubious vehicles like conversions or cars in a ”so-so” condition. At the moment, it is probably hard for an auction house to find quality cars for a sale — the fact that there was no late-entry in the 2003 Bonhams Gstaad auction might strengthen this thesis.

The Gstaad Ferrari auction is yet missing in Bonhams’ 2004 event calendar, but following this after all very successful sale the author sees a good chance for closing the 2004 Ferrari season in the Swiss Alps again.

Andreas Birner

Comments from the Editor
*Maranello 550
the offered "Red Racing" 550 is running in the GT class competing with the 360 GT's, like to see how competitive it is ?

365 GTB/4 Competizione and the BB 512 LM80 did not catch collectors attention because of their configuration, 15685 is fitted with a different Daytona engine which was installed in 1975 and came from 13855, there were rumours that the BB 512 LM80 is fitted with an engine of type F110 (testarossa).

Palace Hotel
Line-up of the Lepeltier Collection
Ferrari 308 GTB Vetroresina s/n 19275
365 GTB/4 Daytona s/n 15069
Ferrari 275 GTB/2 Shortnose s/n 06827
Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta s/n 2649GT
Ferrari 342 America PF Coupe s/n 0246AL
Ferrari 275 GTB/4 s/n 10627
330 GT / Superfast Speciale s/n   6267SF
Ferrari 365 GTB4 Daytona Shooting Brake by Panther Westwinds s/n 15275
Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Comp. SII 15685
Ferrari 365 GT4/BB s/n 17927
Ferrari 365 GTC/4 s/n 16057
BB 512 LM80 s/n 30559
550 Maranello GT s/n 106404
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Bonhams Ferrari Auction Gstaad, Switzerland