A Treasure in Cars
Les Deux-Sèvres is our adjoining Departement, just a few minutes down the road. It is not particularly famous, very rural with a handful of large towns. However, it is very much favoured by ex-pats who enjoy living in the countryside and the reasonable property prices. Echiré is a village of around 3 200 on the edge of Niort, one of the largest towns in les Deux-Sévres. It is also the last place one would have expected to find …… ‘treasure’! Not, it is true, a cashe of medieval objects which you would perhaps expect to find in a country as historic as France, in fact something much more modern but extremely valuable nevertheless.
Roger Baillon was a haulier and also an avid collector of old vehicles. He died in the early 2000’s and his collection, stored in a ramshackle barn, was simply forgotten about by his family and, when his son died recently, the inheritors of the estate asked for the collection to be valued. I imagine that both the family and the valuer have still not recovered from the shock of the said valuation.
In fact, the collection, covered in dust, straw, old newspapers and old rubbish revealed some of the most valuable cars in the world. To name just a few:-
A Ferrari 250 California owned by the French film-star Alain Delon. Designed by Pinifarina, only 52 were ever made. All of which have now disappeared. The car behind the rubbish is now valued at a stunning 9 to 12 million Euros. Alongside it was a 1948 A6G Gran SportTalbot Lago T26 formerly owned by King Farouk of Egypt. Nearby was a Maserati A6G Grand Sport Frua dating from 1956 and now one of only three in existence and, behind a stack of empty oil drums a Hispano Suiza H6B dating from the 1930’s.
In all the collection included up to 300 vehicles and, despite the efforts of les Deux-Sévres to keep the collection in the Departement, it now looks as if it will be auctioned in Paris on the 6th February in Paris. The total value is expected to be over 16 million Euros.
So, there you go, have a look in your old out-buildings, you never know. I’ve had a look in mine and I’ve found an old bucket and a load of empty wine bottles. No treasure for me then!