The world comes to Monte Carlo to celebrate old race cars during the Monaco GP Historique. It runs once in even-numbered years over the well-known Monaco GP circuit: Same track layout, same famed corners, same impeccable organization, same cadre of experienced and dedicated course workers.
The GP Historique is a bit more laid back than the Formula One Grand Prix which runs two weeks later. The participants are a generation or two older, many of them driving their own cars and doing so with talent, verve and intensity. GP Historique vehicles span the Monaco GP history from its inception in 1929. It even includes a class for Fifties sports cars since the GP was run for envelope body, road-equipped cars in 1952 during a dispute with the international governing body.
Many auctions have appeared at Monaco: Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Brooks, Orion, Poulain-Sotheby’s, Barrett-Jackson/Coys, Coys, Bonhams, Artcurial and, since 2010, RM Auctions, now RM Sotheby’s. Some have been epic, like RM in 2014 where the sale totaled $56,775,229.
Such range and diversity make it particularly appropriate for collector car auctions like RM Sotheby’s which since 2018 has been presented at the Principality’s foremost exhibition space, the sea-front Grimaldi Forum. It’s a block from the GP circuit’s Portier corner and easily serenaded by the sounds of Bugattis, Maseratis, Matras, Coventry-Climax V-8s and an assortment of others heading out of Portier and into the sea-front tunnel.
Led by two original, unrestored F1 cars from Nigel Mansell’s collection which were introduced on the auction block by Mansell, a 1989 Ferrari 640 (the first paddle-shift F1 car) and a 1991 Williams FW14 (both sold for €3,605,000/$3,752,805 and €4,055,000/$4,220,255 respectively), race and rally cars punctuated the auction’s docket while leaving plenty of room for succulent performance cars like the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight.
Thirteen of the 68 lots were bid to $1M or more. Ten of them sold bringing a total with commission of $23,769,935, 71.25 percent of the total sale of $33,359,251 from 53 sold lots. In all 77.9 percent of the lots offered were hammered sold, including one lot not sold on the block but closed later at an undisclosed final price.
The auction cars were well spread out across the Forum’s generous floor space making it easy to view them even with a good-sized crowd during the preview. A filling jambon et fromage baguette was a mere €8, a bargain compared with other Monaco meals. On a budget, it’s worth coming to the Grimaldi Forum just for the modestly-priced lunch.
A selection of the most interesting and significant cars from Monaco can be viewed in the pages below.