1963 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster sets Le Mans Classic auction record

300 SL raises 3.07m euros in sweltering Artcurial sale, but ’71 Le Mans Ferrari Daytona fails to fetch 6.5m euros and only 54 percent of cars find new homes

One of a pair of Mercedes-Benz 300SL models consigned by the Swedish Government to raise money for the education of children in need headed sale results at Artcurial’s biannual Le Mans Classic auction.

Claimed to be exceptionally original, although certainly repainted at some time, the 1963 300 SL drop-top had been driven only 1372km since new by its one owner, dental surgeon Gunnar Giermark, before being parked up 46 years ago.

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Auctioned without reserve, the car came complete with a hardtop. As the 11th to last 300 SL ever built, and therefore also boasting the aluminium cylinder block and disc brakes, it had been estimated to cost a second owner 1.5-2m euros. However, it was eventually hammered away for 3,710,000 euros (3,071,200 euros including premium, which equates to £2.71m) – a new world-record auction price for the model. The sale raised €12.01m (£10.57m) in total.

Meanwhile, Giermark’s 1956 cosmetically scuffed and marked ‘Papillon’ Gullwing could also still flap its doors after 67,000km, raising more applause and more funds for the Swedish good cause after selling for 986,000 euros (£986,000 with premium).

Yet while Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 Ferrari once had a winning British GP weekend at Silverstone, the French auction house’s star Daytona stuck very firmly to its plinth in an overheated tent at Le Mans.

Bidding for the 1971 Le Mans 24-hours fifth-placed 365 GTB/4 Competizione, one of only two Ferrari ‘factory prototypes’, which had been guided at 6.5-7.5m euros before the sale, ran out of ‘live’ interest with 5.5m euros displayed on the bids screen. In June 1971, NART team boss Luigi Chinetti had paid the factory $11,639 for chassis 12467.

Therefore, the highest-priced, transacted Ferrari at this year’s Le Mans Classic auction was another 365 GTB/4, a former 1970 Fixed that had been in receipt of a Spider conversion by Bacchelli & Villa in 1974. A below-estimate bid of 490,000 euros was accepted, valuing this period chop at 568,400 euros with premium (£500,192 in Brexit money).

Two Lamborghinis made the leader board, too. A 1975 LP400 Countach ‘Periscopio’ (above) exposed to a mere 5922km’s worth of stone chips and squashed bugs since restoration fetched 951,200 euros with premium (£837,056), and a 1968 Miura P400 inspired more applause when sold for 812,000 euros (£714,560).

Although 53 cars were still unsold by sundown, three relatively modern three-pointed stars of 2014 vintage did perform well. A 230km SLS GT AMG Final Edition Roadster sold for a model record auction price of 539,400 euros (£474,672 with premium), and a 135km SLS GT AMG Coupé, also a Final Edition, went for 475,600 euros (£418,528).

Meanwhile, a 2014 SL63 AMG World Championship Edition, Number 19 of 19 made to mark 19 GP wins that season, with 30km genuine mileage, powered to a 249,400 euros conclusion (£219,472).

A patriotically turned-out DB HB35 coupé of the type that was first tested for the 1960 Le Mans, and is eligible for both Classic and the Tour Auto Retrospectives, found a new owner with a spare 112,520 euros (£99,018) – a record at auction for the very French automobile. A DB front-engine single-seater, meanwhile – a 1964-raced Monomill, some of which enjoyed a second life in Formula Junior – had been well conserved in the Bernard Consten Collection, but failed to make the results.

The final record valuation in this auction was the 37,120 euros (£32,666) paid for a Michelotti-penned 1968 Shellette with Fiat 850 mechanicals and a fringe on top. The once super-cool beach car/quayside yacht tender had been immobile for more than 20 years, though.

And finally, in possibly the least expensive way to take part on-track in the 2020 Le Mans Classic, the most affordable price-to-performance ratio was provided by this 1966 Mini Marcos GT. Fetching 34,800 euros (£34,848), and coming complete with a 1300cc Cooper S motor, it had been good for 200kph on the straight bits of the Mulsanne during the 2016 running of the world’s most exciting challenge for historics.

For 2018, though, the going was certainly challenging for the French auction house and many of its vendors – 46 percent of whom had to take their unsold cars back home again.

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