A 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, estimate €16 – 22 million, is the headline car for the Artcurial Paris Rétromobile 2019 sale.
A rare 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta is likely to be the most-expensive car offered at the Artcurial Paris Rétromobile 2019 classic car auction. The car with a known ownership history from new, including single-family ownership for the last four decades, may set a new Alfa Romeo marque record if it sells within the estimate of €16 to €22 million ($18.6 to $25.6 million).
Artcurial Paris Rétromobile Sale 2019
Artcurial’s annual classic car auction during the Paris Rétromobile week will be held on Friday 8 February 2019.
Artcurial had good form at recent Paris Rétromobile auctions:
- In 2018, Artcurial earned €31,815,556 ($38,814,990) at Paris Rétromobile with a relatively high 86% sell-through rate.
- In 2017, Artcurial earned a similar €32 million ($33.9 million) with a sell-through rate of 73%.
- In 2016, the new Paris (and European) auction record was set when a 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport sold for €32,075,200 ($35,711,359. This is the highest price ever paid in euro for a car at public auction but in dollar terms was second to the 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold for $38 million in 2014, which was €28.5 million at the time.
- In 2015, the Baillon Collection of 60 barn-find cars, including a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider that achieved $18.7 million, were sold at the Paris auction.
1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta
The highlight of the Artcurial Paris Rétromobile 2019 sale is likely to be the elegant 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, estimated at €16 to €22 million ($18.6 to $25.6 million).
Full details of the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, chassis #412024, have not been released yet but Artcurial claims it comes with transparent history, which is in contrast to the last 2900B sold at auction (see below).
The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta was delivered new in Italy in 1939, but was transported to England later that year, where it was owned by just four collectors. In 1976, the father of the current owner, a great enthusiast of sports cars and beautiful coachwork, acquired this car. His son was present on the day he bought it, some 42 years ago. This masterpiece of a bygone era has remained in his possession ever since.
Alfa Romeo was one of very few pre-war manufacturers that could compete with the power of the big German constructors. Having won all the most important races, the firm decided to share this success with its private customers by creating road-going versions of its competition cars. This is what happened with the Alfa 8C. Some thirty 2.9-litre chassis were built, fitted with spider or berlinetta bodies, on both long and short chassis, and equipped with competition engines.
Just five examples of the berlinetta version were built by the Italian coachbuilder Touring, who created what was undoubtedly one of the most charismatic and flamboyant versions of the model. According to Artcurial, this uniquely elegant and sporting motorcar has become an absolute masterpiece in automobile history, its exclusivity placing it on a par with a Leonardo da Vinci painting. It is considered a part of the Automobile Aristocracy.
Along with the Bugatti Atlantic, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta epitomises everything that was magnificent about pre-war production, and is a model boasting the highest awards in the world’s most prestigious Concours d’Elégances.
According to Matthieu Lamoure, Managing director of Artcurial Motorcars, “The Alfa 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta epitomises the aesthetics and engineering of its day; it is a marvel, a masterpiece, a dream.”
1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Cars at Auction
With only around 32 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B cars produced in all versions, these automobiles are not surprisingly rarely offered at auction. The last one to have sold at auction was a 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider that set a new marque record when achieving $19,800,000 at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 sale. At the time of sale, this was the highest price ever paid for a pre-war car – a record increased to $22 million by the 1935 Duesenberg SSJ that sold for $22 million at Gooding Pebble Beach 2018.
The record Alfa Romeo was one of 12 with Touring Spider bodies but one of only seven with this body style on the longer chassis. The elegance of this coachwork apparently allowed buyers to overlook it less than perfect history and modifications. It became the first and (thus far) also the only Alfa Romeo to ever have sold for more than $10 million.
What counts most against the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta is probably year of sale. It missed the top end of the market and may be too early for the next bubble. While referring specifically to the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, chassis 0628, estimate $22 to $26 million on offer at the RM Sotheby’s Los Angeles 2018 sale, Hagerty valuation senior data scientist John Wiley remarked, “it appears unlikely that 0628 will sell—at North American auctions in the past 18 months, $1 million cars have a sell-through rate of 61 percent, but that drops to 44 percent for $10 million cars. For 1950s competition Ferraris, at all auctions in the past 18 months, the sell-through rate is slightly worse at 43 percent.”
The situation in Europe, and for other marques, is unlikely to be much rosier but then again Artcurial has a knack for surprises at the Rétromobile auctions. As often, Artcurial’s estimate is both optimistic and wide making it unclear what the actual reserve price is likely to be.
More on Paris Rétromobile 2019 Classic Car Auctions
Artcurial, Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s traditionally schedule their first European classic car auction of the year during the Rétromobile week in Paris in early February.
Rétromobile Auction Announcements