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Hidden treasures of the motoring world – 60 classic cars found in French barn

Published: 9th Feb 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Hidden treasures of the motoring world – 60 classic cars found in French barn
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In the 1950s, Roger Baillon undertook a mission to collect as many pre-war era cars as he could, in order to ensure that some would survive. He amassed a collection of over a hundred, but when his business failed in the 1970s, he had no choice but to give up his restorations and sell just less than half of the cars he owned. The remaining 100 were shut up in barns and outbuildings, and left alone. Until now.

It was Roger’s grandchildren who called in auctioneers, curious to find out whether the vehicles were worth anything. What they discovered was almost beyond belief, for tucked away in the various outbuildings were cars that bore marques such as Bugati, Hispano-Suiza, Pauhardt et Levassor, Delage, Maserati, and Ferrari; none of which has seen daylight in decades.

While the cars are in varying conditions, some are very well preserved – and some have a colourful past of their own. Of several Talbot-Lago T26s, one is an incredibly rare Grand Sport Aérodynamique, one of the fastest cars on the track in the 1960s. There was a cabriolet once owned by King Farouk, one of the last kings of Egypt and Sudan. And also, hidden in the darkness, was one of only 37 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyders, which belonged to both Gerard Blain and Alain Delon; both Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine were photographed in the car with Delon, making it one of the most famous classic cars out there.

The truly remarkable find came to its conclusion on the 6th of February 2015, when the cars went under the hammer at the world famous classic car auctioneers Artcurial Motorcars in France. 3,500 people were present in the auction room - with 1,600 registered bidders and another 1,000 online, all anticipating this unique collection of once forgotten cars. Various world records were broken with 5 cars selling over the €1million mark but unsurprisingly it was the much anticipated 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider which stole the show, with the final bid coming in at a record €16.3million. 

This discovery historically important simply because of the rarity of the cars, and because they are among the last ‘living’ examples of the coachbuilder’s craft. Many of the vehicles were created by French firms such as Chapron, Saoutchick and Million-Guet, some of the finest coachbuilders in the country.

While such a discovery is incredibly rare, investments in classic cars have actually become more popular in recent years. A report by Carmony in 2011 revealed that classic cars were on the increase as an investment opportunity and figures from the Historical Automobile Group Index reaffirmed this last year by revealing that classic cars have been one of the top performing investments in the last decade, with an average ROI of 456%; a worthwhile investment indeed if you know what to look out for.

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