Of all the makes in motoring history, most people would agree that French cars have the most dramatic and sculptural lines. Constructed with exquisite attention to detail, these cars boast the utmost craftsmanship. Right now, one of the most famous French car collections in the world is going up for auction. It’s one of those magnificent if-you-know-you-know secrets, except we can’t help but freak out. Selections from the Mullin Collection will be offered for sale at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island Auctions from February 29th to March 1st. This is one of the best arrays of French automobiles you could possibly put together, curated by one of the world’s most prominent collectors, all in one place. They are all also being offered without reserve, which is a big plus. Of course, you can also register to bid on them here, or peruse the rest of the auction catalogue as well. Here are a few of the standouts.
The Type 35 Bugatti is one of the most famous, gorgeous cars of all time. This one is a great example. Even though it achieved enormous success and a herculean reputation, it is believed that fewer than 350 Type T35s of all specifications were ever built, making it a rare bird. This particular example was is fitted with a 1,991 CC SOHC inline 8-cylinder engine, this car has power to match its beauty. The chassis design has unconventional reversed quarter-elliptical leaf springs, while the front has a hollow axle, making for genius, precise steering. With a detailed report conducted by Bugatti historian David Sewell, this car is more than just magnificent – it’s legendary.
Many contemporary car enthusiasts don’t know much about Delage at all, making the cars hidden gems to those who love them. The company opened its doors in 1905, quickly making a name as an engineering powerhouse. It quickly began winning Grand Prix prizes. This particular car, chassis 880004, was one of five postwar-built D6 GP racers. According to its accompanying historical file, it placed 2nd overall at Le Mans in 1949. The body has been restored to look just as it did in its racing heyday, a time capsule of French racing glory.
If you’re anything like us, you absolutely lose it when you see anything remotely art-deco. That’s what makes Avions Voisin so special. If you see this car and think, huh, that looks kind of architectural, you’ve got good instincts. The firm had a background in architecture, industrial design, engineering and aviation. Each Voisin was built with user experience (before there was such a thing in mind) - that means each engine and chassis were tailored to passenger needs. This resulted in beautiful craftsmanship, as is evidenced in the powerful 3.3-liter engine type C28. Since then, it has been exhibited at the 2001 Louis Vuitton Classic. The only other C28 Clairiére is on exhibit in the Musée National de l’Automobile in France. Dare we say, ooh la la.
So, this car is a bit of a departure from the French makes we’ve been discussing at length. Hispano-Suiza’s origins go back to Barcelona, where the head engineer had the unending support of the king of Spain, Alfonso XIII. In fact, this make was developed especially for the king, with a long-stroke, T-head, four-cylinder racing engine to be used in voiturette (or lightweight competitive car) racing. Naturally, this new technology led the car to victory at the 1910 Coupe de l’Auto race in Boulogne, France, where it was then produced as one of the earliest Hispano-Suizas and first purpose-built sports cars ever. Pretty chic, if you ask us.
Oooh, now this car is an unrestored gem. The Delahaye 135 model signaled the maker’s intent to make their cars extra sporty, a success underscored by a win at the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and 1st, 2nd, and 4th place finishes at the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans. Compared to the twin-cam straight eights favored by competitors Bugatti and Alfa Romeo, Delahaye’s overhead-valve inline-six engine was more straightforward and durable. With independent front suspension and a live rear axle, the car certainly lived up to racing expectations. Peter Mullin, the collector who acquired this car in 2000, was a true connoisseur of French and art deco craftsmanship – now it is primed for its next steward.
This highly remarkable collection of European automobiles will soon be available at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island Auctions. In the meantime, you can learn more through the Gooding & Company online catalogue or register to bid if you’re ready to sign for them already. If you’re fascinated by the Mullin collection and the upcoming Mullin auction in April, you can read more here!