Preview: Artcurial Auction at Le Mans Classic

Porsche 908 chassis 005

Racing cars and French eccentricity headline star at forthcoming sale

Once again French auction house Artcurial is staging an auction at the forthcoming Le Mans Classic  event. As you would expect from the event, the catalogue includes quite a number of cars with history at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but there also quite a number of consignments  that show some Gallic eccentricity.

There is a bit of a toss up for the pick of the racers with the 2007 Audi R10 TDI sure to attract a lot of attention as is the Peugeot 905.  It is however the  1968 Porsche 908 short tail that would find a place in my fantasy garage. The early 908s have always been rather overshadowed by their more famous 917 replacement, but it is arguably more attractive car.  The 908, in this form, is best known for coming a few hundred feet short of giving Porsche it's first outright win at Le Mans.  This particular example doesn't have the greatest competition history for the type, but would be ideal for events such as the Le Mans Classic and the Tour Auto.


A rather more unusual Le Mans racer included in the auction is the WM P88. WM was a small race team run by Peugeot engineer Gerard Welter.  WM ran for many years at Le Mans but was never really that interested in trying to win the race. Instead each year they would set out to set the highest speed on the Mulsanne straight. The P88 delivered this objective in 1988 with a speed of 407 km/h or 253mph. With the addition of the chicanes on the Mulsanne from 1990 it is unlikely that the speed recorded by this little prototype will ever be beaten.  Considering it's unique achievement the estimate of €150,000 - €250,000 (no reserve) seems quite reasonable.

The WM is being sold on behalf the Heuliez company, a specialist French vehicle manufacturer who were responsible for building the P88 for WM.  Heuliez were also responsible for building the rather quirky Citroen BX 4TC. Despite sister company Peugeot already having the 205T16, the 4TC was Citroen's entry into Group B.   Powered by a turbo charged 2.0 four cylinder engine, the front engined BX was never competitive against the mid-engined 205 or Lancia S4 and the project was abandoned after some twelve rally cars and 85 road cars of which only 40 are believed to have survived. This example uniquely finished in black has only covered 1,036 km and with an estimate of €40,000 - €60,000 (no reserve) it's competively priced against some of the more iconic Group B machinery.

A rather more expensive quirky Citroen is the SM Espace (estimate €200,000 - €400,00 no reserve), one of only two produced.  The SM Espace is a T topped version of the SM coupe with two independently retracting roof sections, and while T tops might conjure up images of Burt Reynolds moustache and a black Trans Am, this is an achingly cool car that would look the part at concours events such as Goodwood's Style e Luxe.



As will all recent high end car auctions there are a good selection of classic Ferraris consigned. The star of these is the 275GTC (estimate €1,300,000 - €1,600,000) that won it's class at the Nurburgring 1000km in 1966.  The current demand for barn find cars is satisfied by a one owner 1959 Ferrari 250PF coupe (estimate €100,000 - €150,000). Described as a one owner car from new and in time warp condition, the car will need recommissioning to make it roadworthy if not full restoration.

The auction takes place on the 7th July at the Le Mans circuit and the full catalogue can be viewed here.