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Barn-find Ferrari makes nearly £12 million at Artcurial Retromobile sale

One of only 37 made with covered headlights, the Ferrari was the Franco-Britannic 1961 Paris Motor Show car. Its first owner was French actor Gerard Blain, and its second was Alain Delon (pictured). 

Roger Baillon bought the 250 GT in 1971 and, although in need of restoration, it is totally original and retains its original engine. Bidding for the California at packed Artcurial saleroom was fast and furious at first, soon topping €10 million, it then slowed to two potential owners before the car went under the hammer for €14,200,000 - just under £12 million. 

The next highest price of the collection was achieved by another gorgeous Paris Motor Show car, the 1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport - one of only four bodied by Frua. The 1964 model was the first A6G tourer with an overhead twin-camshaft engine and dual spark plugs. With 150hp of power on tap it boasted a top speed of 125mph. 

Another important fact about this particular car is that it had been parked next to the 250 GT California for the past 55 years. Crowds cheered as it was pushed into the sale room at the Artcurial sale. It sold for almost £1.5 million. 

All 59 cars offered from the Baillon collection sold, many for more than 10 times their upper estimate. Historically important models included the 1936 Panhard et Levassor Dynamic X76 Coupé Junior. One of the first aerodynamically designed cars from this French marque, it boasted a monocoque body, torsion bar suspension and hydraulic brakes, which gave it better handing than many contemporaries. A representative of the French State bought it for just over £40,000. 

Another car that caused a stir in the auction room was the extremely rare and genuine SWB Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport with a fastback coupe body created by Saoutchik. Built to showcase his talents its bodywork featured chromed scallops on the bumpers, a sweep-spear on the body side, a three piece-grille and chunkier chromework. It sold for £1.2 million. 

The cars came from a collection of more than 140 cars amassed by French transport company owner Roger Baillon during the 1950s to 1970s. His aim was to create a pre-war classic car museum. However, his business suffered a downturn in the 1970s, so he sold off 50 cars and left the others in various outbuildings and under makeshift corrugated iron shelters for the past 55 years. 

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By Claire Evans

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