A £12million treasure trove of vintage classics found on a French farm

Auctioneers have struck a £12million treasure trove of 60 rusting classic cars that have been gathering dust under piles of newspapers in garages and barns in a farm in western France for 50 years.

The haul includes dozens of vintage sports cars, a Ferrari once used by Jane Fonda and a Talbot-Lago previously owned by extravagant Egyptian King Farouk. They also found a 1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sports with coachwork by prominent designer Frua, one of just three in the world, which is estimated to fetch nearly £1million.

The star attraction, however, is the 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider with covered headlights, which was hidden beneath piles of newspapers.

The car was previously owned by French actors Gerard Blain and Alain Delon, who was photographed in it with Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine, and is expected to attract attention from Ferrari collectors with an estimate of £9.5million.
Only 36 of the particular model of Ferrari were ever made, including the one in the barn and another bought by Chris Evans in 2008 for an estimated £5.5million.

The collection, which will be auctioned at the Artcurial sale in Paris on 6 February during the annual Retromobile classic car show, will give collectors perhaps the best opportunity to acquire and restore some of the finest cars from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Other models include Chapron, Saoutchick and Million-Guiet, besides a Ferrari California SWB found partly hidden under bundles of old magazines.

Pierre Novikoff, motor car specialist at auction house Artcurial, and his colleague Matthieu Lamoure, the managing director of Artcurial Motorcars, are hoping to make it big at the auctions.

According to Novikoff, the collection originally belonged to a French haulier who had a passion for cars and whose dream was to conserve the heritage of pre-war automobiles in museum surroundings. He even designed his own truck in the late forties and then in 1951 he exhibited a roadster that he had designed and built at the Paris motor show, says Novikoff.

The haulier-designer collected over 200 rare cars between 1953 and 1966, which included a 1912 Renault four-cylinder and a Ferrari Mondial the then latest model.

A friend of the family made possible the discovery of these cars, which was unknown by motor car specialists.

After the mid-60s the collector added other vehicles, and even trains. But, during the 1970s, his business suffered a setback and he had to sell about 100 cars. And, in 1978, his firm went bankrupt and he was forced to sell about half of his remaining collection.

The remaining 100 were left in barns and makeshift shelters with corrugated iron roofs and sides. Artcurial has picked the best 60 of the 100 cars to be sold at the Retromobile, while retiring 40 of them.