HOW about this for an investment: A car bought by a Dutch enthusiast 43 years ago for $US 12,000, fetched almost $19 million last week at a Paris auction.

Classiccars.com reports that Artcurial Motorcars completed its three-day Retromobile auction with total sales of $47.8m, plus small change, reflecting a 31 percent boost compared with the 2018 sale.

Ten vehicles sold for record prices.

More than 80 per cent of the sales went to buyers outside France.

American collectors made four of the six most expensive purchases at the sale, including the top two vehicles, the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta that sold for more than $18.9 million, the third-highest amount ever paid at auction for a pre-war vehicle, and the 1966 Serenissima Spyder that brought an auction-record price of more than $4.7 million.

The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900, had been owned by the same Dutch family for 43 years.

It was bought by the seller’s dad for less than $12,000.

The ’66 Serenissima Spyder was one of three Serenissimas consigned to the sale by Count Volpi di Misurata, who in 1965 established the brand and its racing team.

Only two Spyders were produced and only one of them survives.

It also is the only Serenissima to have raced at Le Mans, driven in the 24-hour competition in 1966 by Jean-Claude Sauer and Jean de Mortemart.

Artcurial Motorcars said several collectors — both in the room and on the phone — were competing for the car, which had a pre-sale estimated value of less than $2 million.

The auction also featured a quartet of pre-war cars discovered in a barn in Belgium.

Among them, a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet by Graber brought $565,700, a 1932 Bugatti Type 49 Vanvooren sold for $222,300, a 1929 Bugatti Type 40 sold for $215,500, and a 1925 Citroen 5HP went for $24,300.

A collection of nearly 90 MV Agusta motorbikes collected in the past half century by a family of enthusiasts in Italy, was also sold.

One of them was ridden onto the auction block by the legendary Giacomo Agostini, the 15-time world championship rider who made his name racing for MV Agusta.

The highest price paid for a motorcycle at the sale was $108,800 for the ex-Arturo Merzario 1972 MV Agusta 750 S.

The three-day auction included a full-scale Renault Formula 1 racing car built from Lego blocks.

It sold for $107,700 with proceeds donated to Unicef.

A racing suit previously worn by Ayron Senna sold for $110,200 and a helmet worn by Alain Prost brought $61,700.

Top 10 sales, with prices in $US were:

  • 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta, $18,922,528
  • 1966 Serenissima Spyder, $4,767,244
  • 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss Edition, $2,957,436
  • 1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L “Lusso,” $1,104,462
  • 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport roadster Corsica, $1,104,462
  • 1971 Porsche 916 prototype “Brutus,” $1,077,568
  • 1936 Bugatti 57 Atlantic Erik Koux, $963,777
  • 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet by Graber, $565,678
  • 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC, $606,132
  • 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 S cabriolet, $538,784

Moral: Don’t sell your Alfa. Leave it to the grandkids, with instructions to keep it for at least 80 years.

Much better than putting your hard-earned into one of Australia’s a shonky banks.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.