Could you think of a grander setting to showcase some of the world’s most desired automobiles than Grand Palais? Absolutely not! The Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées, at the heart of Paris continues its century-old legacy of exhibiting beautiful art, opens its doors to the Bonhams Grandes Marques au Grand Palais 2017 Auction today, February 9, 2017. We got a unique opportunity to get behind the scenes thanks to our friend with incredible photography talent Antoine Dellenbach, a resident Parisian who brings us these incredible images from the Bonhams Grand Palais 2017 press event that took place on February 8, a day before the auction.
As expected, the floor of the Grand Palais 2017 is lined up with some of the most beautiful and highly desired automobiles that spread across a full century of motoring culture.
Presented for the first time at the 1934 Milan automobile show, the Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 was the true design genius of Vittorio Jano. While getting a competition inauguration at the Giro d’Italia – Coppa d’Oro del Littorio’, a race was held in three stages over a total of 5687km, the Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 got its first success at the Targa Abruzzo – 24 Ore di Pescara on August 12/13 1934 when three touring-bodied coupes finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
Bentley S1 Continental Cabriolet in 1957 was described as the evolution of the post-war Bentley. The S1 Continental was the last in the Bentley S-type line that had defined grand-high-speed-cruising, starting from the R-Type chassis in 1952. This particular vintage car is one of the 31 left-hand drive drophead coupes left in the world.
You can call it the most world’s most successful rally car or the first ever car purpose-built for rally, the Lancia Stratos was the ultimate mid-engined, rear wheel drive package on offer during the 1970s. This particular example bearing its patina proudly is one of the 400 cars ever made, first registered in 1977 in Austria.
In 1991 Porsche introduced the Type 964 Carrera RS that relived the legacy of its forebears, the 2.7 and 3.0-litre RS and RSR ‘Homologation specials’ from the 70s. The 1991 Carrera RS were not only lighter in every possible but also included a larger 3.6-litre turbocharged engine that boosted the power up to 260bhp. These cars came with the G50/10 five-speed transmission that featured closer ratios as well as an asymmetrical limited slip differential, along with lowered and stiffened suspensions.
The N-GT took performance to a whole new level as they were further stripped out of all carpets and soundproofing. The leather seats were replaced with Nomex and to make the Carrera N-GT more competition ready, they came fitted with a long-range fuel tank, fire extinguisher and external cut-off. This particular 1991 911 Carrera RS N-GT is one of the 270 cars that were ever made.
While every Ferrari is a ‘Landmark’, there’s no doubt that the Ferrari 365 GTB came screaming out of Maranello to capture hearts like no other. Launched in 1968 at the Paris Salon, the 365 soon gained the unofficial name “Daytona” in honour of the sweeping 1-2-3 finish by the Ferrari 330P4 at the circuit in 1967.
Lamborghini had to present something truly breathtaking after 17-years of producing the Countach, and thankfully what arrive was absolutely stunning. The Lamborghini Diablo VT (Viscous Traction) was shown to the world for the first time in 1990 at Monaco and it immediately went on to set a new benchmark in supercar design. Its all-wheel drive system borrowed from the LM 002 directed 25% of the torque to front wheels further giving traction and avoiding wheel-slip during intense acceleration. Everything about the Diablo was larger-than-life; 48-valve 5.7-litre v12, 492bhp and a top speed of 322kmph. This here is a 1997 example Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster that has clocked 33,000km.
The design roots of the BMW Z8 way back to the post-war times, taking reference from Albrecht von Goetz designed BMW 507. Based on the 507, BMW showcased the Z07 Concept back in 1997 at the Tokyo Motor Show and was swarmed with enthusiastic remarks about its beautiful flowing design. The German manufacturer immediately decided to press on with a production car, resulting in the iconic BMW Z8 that in most part remained faithful to the design of the concept car.
The Audi Sport Quattro is synonymous to Group B rallying as the car that brought four-wheel drive to the sport, quickly changing the order of domination. Launched in 1983 as a ‘Homologation Special’, the Audi Quattro Sport Coupe quickly took the motoring world by storm. Out in the rallying world, it took other years before they could catch up with the Quattro’s superior grip from the four-wheel drive system, bringing Audi the Manufacturer’s Championship in 1983 and 1984 and the Driver’s Championship in 1983 and 1984. This particular example is a 1985 Sport Quattro Couple that originally comes from a Swiss owner.
High door sills, gullwing doors and a coupe body… The Mercedes-Benz 300SL communicates pure desire, automotive design perfection no matter which angle you want to admire it from. One of the 867 examples build in 1955, this particular car was delivered new to Mercedes-Benz Distributors Inc. of New York, USA in November that same year.
With Aston Martin switching over to six-cylinder ‘DB’ badged cars, some had lost hope if the British brand would return to making supercars. Thankfully they did, and with the return of the V8 came back a marque that was synonymous to Aston’s 8-cylinder fire-breathers – The Vantage. Re-introduced in 1977, the V8 Vantage put Aston Martin back in the supercar league with a tuned 5,240cc V8 that produced 375bhp. This particular example is a later much later 1988 V8 Volante Convertible which is a good thing, considering that the power of the V8 had increased to 400bhp by then.
This particular Lancia Stratos is the actual rally car was campaigned, completing the Tour Auto in 1992 and 1993; the Coupe des Alpes on nine different occasions between 1993 and 2014; Rally Corsica in 2012, 2013, 2014 and the Gstaad Classic in 2006. According to the documentation, the car has never seen a crash ever and has its engine rebuilt recently with only 4,000kms covered since.
At a time when most cars came with drum brakes, live rear axles and mediocre to good performance, the Jaguar E-Type showcased incredible number such as a 150mph top speed, a sub 7-second 0-60 time, monocoque construction, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering and independent front and rear suspension… plus that unrivalled look that petrolistas find attractive 56-years from when it was launched. This particular example is a series 1′ E-Type coupe supplied to New York in 1963.
Before Ferdinand Porsche’s name was immortalised on the greatest sportscar of all time – the Porsche 911, he had already created a masterpiece loved and admired by all. The Porsche 356 employed a rear-mounted air-cooled engine, something that has become integral to Porsche’s engine layout up till present day. This particular Porsche 356 is the Speedster; the lightest of all 356s ever made.
More cars at Bonhams Grand Palais 2017
Images by – Antoine Dellenbach