Did you go from one discovery to another when you started to make an inventory?
ML: 60 cars, legendary marques, in “barnfind” condition. It was already unbelievable! We had already spotted a few gems during our first tour of the machines, and making an inventory made us start to comprehend the extent of the collection. One mythical coachbuilder after another. I must tell you about three Talbots designed by Saoutchik : despite their condition, it was impossible not to fall in love with the lines of the Talbot Lago T26 Record Coupe by Saoutchik. It is like a work of art by Brancusi. When we contacted the marque historian to tell him we had found this car, he couldn’t believe it! Once he had recovered from the shock, he bombarded us with questions.
PN: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many exceptional cars together in one collection — Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot- Lago, Panhard-Levassor, Maserati, Ferrari, Delahaye, Delage…Roger Baillon saved these cars and succeeded in his task — to trace the history of the automobile through the finest examples! When I look at the imposing Hispano Suiza H6B cabriolet Million-Guiet, a car built in France, I am impressed by the attention to detail and its proportions. These men were genuine artists.
You speak of them like genuine works of art.
PN: But that’s what they are! It is no coincidence that Artcurial has a collectors’ car department. Certain cars, much like paintings or sculptures, are works of art, created by artists ! Not only the engineering, but their styling reflects the history of design.
ML: I think you can feel the same emotion whether you are looking at the cubist forms of Pablo Picasso, the geometric but gentle shapes of Constantin Brancusi, a bookcase by the designer Ron Arad or the perfect styling of a Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider.
Is the Ferrari THE discovery?
ML: Ferrari is a legendary name in the automobile world. And this car is unique. Only 37 examples of this model were built making it extremely rare. Every example has been carefully documented by historians and this one was thought to be lost. We have found it!
PN: And we really did ‘find’ it — it was buried, in a garage, under a pile of papers (old copies of la Vie de l’Auto) and various covers. Not what you would expect for a car worth between €9.5 – €12 million. Its neighbour was another gem, a Maserati A6G Gran Sport Frua.