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2008 Bonhams Gstaad Auction
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Click here to open the slideshowIntroduction
In the first years of its existence the annual Bonhams auction in Gstaad was the exclusive domain of Ferrari. More recently the lack of headline grabbing 'prancing horses' forced the auctioneer to broaden its scope; first by including Maseratis and later by allowing any Italian built car of interest in. This was also the setup in 2008 but there were remarkably few non-Ferraris present in the luxurious five-star Palace Hotel. In spite of the ever growing financial crisis Bonhams' European department managed to get their 'hands' on several seven figure Ferraris.

Non-Ferraris
Maserati 3500 GT SpyderAmong the non-Ferraris entered in the auction, particularly the Maseratis stood out. Included was arguably one of the finest examples of a 3500 GT Spyder. Meticulously restored with a focus on originality, it won various awards in recent years. The owner managed to keep the car in superb condition despite driving it for many miles on the road every year. The new, and most fortunate owner paid a good CHF 305,000 for the Vignale built Spyder. One of our favourites in the auction was a Fissore bodied OSCA 1600 GT. One of only 24 it was one of the very last cars built by the Maserati brothers. The unusually styled coupe changed hands for CHF 65,000.

Ferrari 275 GTB/4A Ferrari for everyone
Supporting the 'big money' cars, Bonhams always secures a broad range of Ferrari road cars. This year there was again a good selection of six, eight and twelve cylinder road cars. Offered with no reserve a Mondial QV Cabriolet in average condition was the 'cheapest' car in the auction at CHF 18,000. At the other end of the spectrum was a quad-cam Ferrari 275 GTB/4. Restored with no expense spared, it is arguably one of the best examples of this highly coveted Ferrari Grand Tourer. During the auction bids did not reach the reserve set but after some negotiating the car was sold the next day for CHF 964,979. Also included in the sale was an example of the drop-top version of the 275, the GTS. It swapped owners for CHF 550,000.

Anthoine Midy
Ferrari 212 Export Motto SpyderTwo of the most interesting cars in the sale, a Ferrari 121 LM and a Ferrari 212 Export Motto Spyder came from the estate of the late Anthoine Midy. He owned both cars for over twenty years and raced them in historic events all over Europe. The 121 LM was one of only a handful of straight six Ferraris built and was raced at Le Mans by Phil Hill. The 212 Export is equally rare and believed to be one of only two Ferraris of this type bodied by Rocco Motto's small 'carrozzeria.' Both cars were estimated to sell for over CHF 4.7 and 2.8 million respectively, which to our knowledge are good targets. Sadly the ballroom of the Palace Hotel was not very responsive when the two machines crossed the block. The two were offered early in the sale and firmly set the tone.

Nice cars, few takers
The results of recent auctions may have suggested that the classic car market was immune to the financial crisis. The auction in Gstaad has firmly ended that belief. The uncertainties in the market make these multi-million machines a risky investment at the moment. However, a crash of the magnitude of the late 1980s, early 1990s does not seem likely yet. Now that the effects of the crisis have become painfully clear, the upcoming auctions will become very interesting. Among then is Bonhams' own Retromobile sale to be held in February, where again some top dollar cars will be offered. For now the only consolation we can offer is our 90-shot gallery, which includes every car entered in the Gstaad auction.

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com.