Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider
Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

Finding Automotive Treasure – Interview

Finding Automotive Treasure – Interview Page Five

Do any of these cars have special history?

ML: The Ferrari, certainly! When we were making the inventory, we realised that the car used to belong to Alain Delon!

PN: It had been bought new by the actor Gérard Blain who sold it to his fellow actor Alain Delon. Delon was photographed several times at the wheel of this machine : in 1964 with Jane Fonda during the filming ‘Les Félins’ and on the Côte d’Azur with Shirley MacLaine.

ML: The collection also contains an extravagant Talbot Lago T26 cabriolet that once belonged to King Farouk.

1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport Frua
1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport Frua
Discovery of Collection Baillon
Discovery of Collection Baillon

What can you do with vehicles in this condition?

PN: All the cars are significant for their heritage, and we hope that some of them will join big collections in and outside France. Perhaps even museums. Amongst the 60 cars, the estimates vary from €500 to several million euros. They will be displayed and sold as they are. Just as we found them. Possibly one or two spider’s webs may be lost in transit, and some of the dust blown away, but that’s all!

ML: What is incredible is the condition of these cars. I think some should be left as they are, and others should be restored. This is a unique testimony. It is the collectors who have this opportunity to make the successful bid who will decide. If you think about it, there are always restored cars available to buy on the market. These vehicles are unique. This is a very rare opportunity presenting works of art unknown to the market! For the Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe Saoutchik, caved in at the rear, I think it should be left in this condition. It is a sculpture.

Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe Saoutchik
Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe Saoutchik
Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe Saoutchik
Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe Saoutchik

The cars will be on display during the Salon Retromobile in February 2015. How do you transport such fragile objects?

ML: It is a highly technical and precise job, the same as transporting a work of art. We need to take as much care as if we were moving the Mona Lisa. The cars are loaded manually into special lorries, to be taken to a warehouse. There, like celebrities, they will be individually photographed in a studio, inspected and written up for the sale catalogue.

PN: You will see them again in February at the Parc des Expositions de la Porte de Versailles, in the major exhibition that precedes the sale on 6 February, at the Retromobile Salon.

For additional information, visit Artcurial Motorcars.

Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff in front of their discovery
Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff in front of their discovery

[Source: Artcurial Motorcars]

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Show Comments (17)

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  1. I don’t understand how these cars could have gone undiscovered for such a long time. They weren’t left in a locked, boarded up garage, everything was wide open for anyone to see.

  2. Matt,
    I think Matthieu and Pierre hinted at the reason when they mentioned that the Collection Baillon had been dispersed at auction decades ago to satisfy creditors. No one had any reason to think there might be others, so no one looked.
    Furthermore they were located on family property well away from prying eyes. In France you don’t go poking around behind someone’s chateau on a lark.
    Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the dispersal of this collection coincides with the expiration of a statute of limitations on the debts that led to the public dispersal years ago and puts the proceeds out of reach of any creditors.
    In any event it is pretty wonderful, even if many of the cars are in sad, neglected condition. I hope I can make it to Retromobile to see it.

    1. Couldn’t the Chateau owners afford a thousand dollars worth of plywood and nails to enclose the bloody garages. Terrible shame that these cars were left to rot like they did.

  3. The first sale alluded to took place near Niort on june 23 and 24, 1979, with 58 cars sold at no reserve.

    There is a full report in “Le Fanatique de l’Automobile” N° 130 dated July 1979. There were no really great cars then, apart from another 5 Talbots, and the report finishes with “The second sale, of which the date is not yet known, will surely be even more interesting”.

    So this should be the second sale then …. 35 years after the first one!

  4. I visited this collection in September 1981 when I was touring France following attendance at the Vincenzo Lancia Centenary Rally in Torino.The cars were accessible and in much the same condition as shown now, although there were indeed fewer cars and some of the exotic Delahaye were not visual. I will try to find the photos I took at that time.

  5. There have been people trying to buy the Ferrari in the past but with no result.
    The owners probably told the auctioneers that the could do an auction if they remove all the cars from the property and not just one. Not a real forgotten treassure in my mind but still some nice cars.

  6. I think it’s a manipulation of the public opinion to present this story as a barn find. Whoever the owner is, cannot be stupid enough not to estimate the value of these cars or at least try to find out all these years.

    This leaves us with “expiration of a statute of limitations on the debts” as the only plausable reason for them suddenly being discovered -again-.

  7. I am truly amazed that this collection exists and aghast at the people that have kept its secrets. My only hope is that the automotive historians will find worthy patrons to bring most of these pieces of art and craftsmanship back to there glory so that future generations of of our hobby can enjoy these pieces of an era automotive art.

  8. “We need to take as much care as if we were moving the Mona Lisa.”

    Oh please.

    “For the Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe Saoutchik, caved in at the rear, I think it should be left in this condition. It is a sculpture.”

    Yes. A ruined sculpture. “Should be left in this condition.” ? Why. Because it is so bad off that it’s not worth restoring?

    I don’t care that the “snarky comments” come from “anonymous”.