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Le Mans, Friday 9 July 2010
In a hot, packed saleroom in a vast tent erected inside the legendary Le Mans race circuit, Hervé Poulain celebrated 40 years of car auctions by knocking down 73% of the 60 automobiles presented at Le Mans Classic on Friday 9 July.1 The noise outside of cars in practice, for what drivers and connoisseurs of vintage racing-cars consider their top event, added to the saleroom buzz.

With a total of €6.615 million for 73% of lots sold, 55% of them to foreign buyers – the auction was a great success for the new Artcurial Motorcars team under Matthieu Lamoure and his colleagues Pierre Novikoff and Iris Hummel. Four vehicles cleared the €500,000 barrier, with 16 selling well over €100,000.
There was an enthusiastic response to the eight-car collection of a Paris businessman, which brought a total of €2,261,700 against an overall estimate of €2,200,000. An exceptional 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV, with just 5,000km on the clock, sold to an American collector for €680,700 (estimate €500,000-600,000); an iconic, fully restored Ferrari 275 GTB/4 to a Greek buyer for €837,500 (est. €750,000-850,000); and an AC Cobra 289 Mk II, in great demand among collectors, for €423,200 after a lengthy bidding battle (est. €340,000-380,000). The Porsche 959 once owned by Bernard Tapie sold to a press magnate for €230,700 (est. €180,000-200,000); a 1975 Dino 246 GTS for €129,700; a 1966 Aston Martin DB6 Mark I Superleggera (est. €100,000- 120,000) for €176,900; a Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary (1989) for €112,000; and a 1967 Lamborghini 400GT 2+2 Superleggera for €171,000 (est. €120,000-140,000).

The Bentley Speed Six Le Mans Tourer enjoyed a love affair with Le Mans in the 1930s: after its victories at Le Mans, countless owners had their limousines rebuilt as a Le Mans tourer, like the one offered by Artcurial (altered in 1938). It was fiercely disputed by three bidders before finally selling to a German in the room for €736,700 (est. €390,000-500,000).

The Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roadster is a mythical automobile with a huge following. The model offered here, complete with hard top and original suitcases, sold to a Belgian buyer for an imposing €502,300, against a low-estimate of €430,000.
The Alpine A110 1600 Group IV (ex-works), with a 'champion' racing record in the hands of such top rally-drivers as Darniche, Mahé, Thérier and Depailler, sold for €141,500 (est. €130,000). Another fine price was the €176,900 taken for an Aston Martin DB4 Superleggera Series 1.

A Panhard CD Le Mans Coupé, which raced at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1962, was once owned by Panhard's Director of Racing, and came with its priceless documentation archive, claimed €165,100 (est. €140,000).

Vintage automobiles were also extensively represented, with a 1930 Packard Eight 745 Deluxe Roadster by LeBaron – a car beloved of pre-war movie stars – zipping to €115,600.

Earlier in the sale, a Facel Vega HK2 soared to €176,000 – a record price for the model; and its four-door 'sister', the Facel Vega Excellence Series 2, confirmed market demand with a price of €116,800 (est. €55,000-85,000) – underlining the ability of Artcurial Motorcars and its new team to sell French cars to foreign buyers for top prices.
Negotiations, meanwhile, are in progress for the aftersale of the McLaren-BMW F1 GTR painted by César (est. €1.8m).
"Four hours' auctioneering in this heat was more exhausting than any of my 11 participations in the 24 Hours!" declared Hervé Poulain afterwards. "But the sale's success was ample reward!"
Added Matthieu Lamoure, Director of Artcurial Motorcars: "This first sale, with 73% of cars sold for a total of more than €6.6m, establishes Artcurial Motorcars as one of the world's leading auction firms in the field. Our focus now turns to our next sale, to take place at the great European fair Retromobile in February 2011."