The Baillon treasure

By | Category: Travel news

Auction Sale Art-Curial Retromobile 2015Antique fairs have long been a big weekend visitor attraction, not just I the UK but abroad as well. In Paris, one of the biggest “antique” fairs is not for furniture or ceramics, jewellery or toys but for cars. For 40 years the “Retromobile” fair in Paris is the inevitable place to be for cars lovers from all over the world.  It’s a unique opportunity to meet car manufacturers, international classic cars clubs and federations, spare parts’ retailers, toy cars, restorers, old cars traders and , well, to put bluntly, petrolheads. Over 450 exhibitors will display 600 classic cars.

But this year highlight of the fair this year will be the auction sale on February the 6th, set up by the well-known auction house Artcurial. Rare lots will be on sale among the 180 cars on sale, such as a Ferrari 275 GTB or a Bugatti 43 which used to be owned by the famous British racing car driver, Malcom Campbell. Each one is estimated at several millions of Euros!  But the selling of the Baillon collection will unquestionably be the high point of the sale.

Baillon collection

how the Baillon collection was first seen

It certainly is most unlikely that such a collection will ever be on sale anywhere in the world in the future. This is the reason why all classic cars collectors in France and abroad feel like cats on hot bricks! Those 60 cars made by the best car manufacturers were long forgotten and were like sleeping beauties waiting for their princes to wake them up.

There were actually two princes: Mathieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff who works for Artcurial Motorcars and travel the year throughout the world to find those special cars that will arouse the interest of car lovers. They found their Grail in South-western France and, to them, it must have felt as though they had entered Aladdin’s cave. Parked in battered shelters, open to the four winds, the cars were hidden beneath 50 years of thick layers of dust! The most illustrious brands were there; Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot-Lago, Panhard-Levassor, Maserati, Ferrari, Delahaye and Delage to name just a few.

more of the Baillon collection

more of the Baillon collection

Roger Baillon was a businessman who ran a prosperous haulage company but most of all he loved cars and engineering, he even built a roadster called “L’Oiseau Bleu”, the Blue Bird, for the 1947 Paris Car Show. He began to buy cars that were not only beautiful cars but also rare ones even at the time of their manufacture. He stocked them in a property he owned in South-western France, waiting to create a museum dedicated to his beloved cars. During the 1970’s his business went through a bad patch and he had to give up his dream. In those days he even had to sell 50 cars. It was thought by many that all had been sold. That’s why it came as a total surprise to the two auctioneers when the treasure trove was found.

Being unknown, this collection was unlisted and car models unheard of for decades are being rediscovered. There are several Talbot-Lago T26 cars: one of them is an extremely rare Grand Sport Aerodynamic and there is an extravagant cabriolet that belonged to King Farouk. There is also one Ferrari 250 California with a short chassis and streamlined headlights that Alain Delon drove in the 60’s. There are photos showing him driving this same car and with Jane Fonda or Shirley Maclaine sitting next to him. The unique Bugatti 43, driven by Malcom Campbell for the Essex Six Hours Endurance Race and for the RAC Tourist Trophy in 1928, will also be on sale! There is also the Ferrari 275 GTB that Roger Vadim offered to Jane Fonda in 1966.

Hispano-Suiza H6B cabriolet

Hispano-Suiza H6B cabriolet

All the cars will be sold in the state they were found when “rediscovered”. The future owners will decide for themselves if they want to restore the cars or leave them as they are as a testimony of their old age and history!

Even if you don’t intend to buy a classic car although some of them will be much more affordable than the foresaid ones, some of them are estimated at 500 Euros, you will get a unique opportunity to see these historical cars. So don’t miss the Retromobile fair that will be open from the 4th till the 8th of February at the Parc des Expositions in Paris because you can bet that avid car collectors such as Jay Leno, Chris Evans and Hassanal Bolkiah, probably the man with the largest classic collection in the world will be looking at one of the best collections of cars to come to the world’s attention for many years.

Images © Art Curial

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