Europe’s biggest car auction: RM Sotheby’s two thousand wheels

It’s the biggest classic car auction in European history – and there’s no reserve, meaning cars have to sell for whatever is bid. There may be no better place to buy an investment you can fly around in, says Darius Sanai

Starting on Friday November 25, around 480 supercars and classics will be up for sale in Milan at the RM Sotheby’s Duemila Route (“two thousand wheels”) auction. But it’s not the just the quantity of stock or the lack of a reserve that has excited collectors and dealers from around the world: it’s the quality and variety of the collection.

Sotheby's auction highlight

2008 Porsche 997 GT2

From a single owner whose business assets were seized by the Italian government, the sale is of a connoisseur’s collection of some of the most exciting and prized cars of the past 40 years, including a phenomenal selection of the hottest market category right now, so-called “modern classics”. The collection is short on the prewar Bentleys and 1950s Jaguars that might have made up a classic collection in the past; instead, it features some of the hottest cars of the modern era.

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The star of the show may be a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6c Alloy, estimated at more than 2.5 million euros (although, hypothetically, if nobody else bids, it could be yours for a fraction of that). However much of the attention has been focused on more modern cars. These include one of a handful of Ferrari 599 Fioranos made with a manual transmission instead of the much more common paddle-shift; a rare Ferrari 575 Maranello with the same transmission; two Porsche 911 GT2s from the ‘996’ model designation, considered the last of the raw driving experience Porsches; a Ferrari F512M, the final, rarest, most powerful and desirable of the Testarossa series of the 1980s and 1990s; and many more, including rally cars from Lancia, a desirable ‘plexi’ Ferrari Daytona, and a 25th Anniversary edition of the legendary Lamborghini Countach, designed by Horacio Pagani, who later went on to found the Pagani supercar brand.

The collection of the unfortunate, bankrupted collector was as broad as it is deep, with cars for fans of every marque and at every price level: if fast BMWs are your thing, there is a brace of original BMW M3s, a M635 CSi and an original M Coupe. There are Porsches from 1970 to 2007 (a 997 GT3 RS).

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“It’s an extraordinary selection – there is every Porsche 911 you can imagine, for example,” says Alain Squindo, COO of RM Sothebys. “It was amassed relatively discreetly, the collection was not known about before. What’s particularly interesting about this auction is that it highlights what’s particularly appealing to new collectors, 30 and 40 year olds coming into the car world. They are not interested in prewar grand sedans: instead we have sporting high performance stuff, Porsche 911s, Lancia Integrales, Alfas, Astons, thrilling high horsepower stuff.” It’s the sheer quantity that fascinates, he points out: there are two fibreglass Ferrari 308s, four Ferrari Testarossas (all red).

classic Alfa Romeo

1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA

Squindo says most of the cars are “cosmetically pristine” while emphasising that RM Sotheby’s hasn’t had time to inspect them all and that bidders need to look carefully at the particulars in the catalogue. If your newly acquired Ferrari 400i doesn’t work, there’s no comeback.

Still, for a collector of modern classics, the atmosphere will be of a child in a sweetshop. The world’s biggest sweetshop. Just don’t get carried away. Now, I’m going to look at one of those Ferraris…

rmsothebys.com/tv16/duemila-ruote/

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