Fewer than 60 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyders were ever built, making it one of the most prized and pricey classic cars in the world. The lineage of each surviving example is as obsessively researched as the bloodline of a world-class race horse. Which is why the discovery of a previously unknown California Spyder among a secret French collection of 100 classic cars has the automotive world in an uproar. Talk about a barn find.
The jaw-dropping Ferrari is just one of 100 cars in the Baillon Collection, hoarded away by shipping magnate Roger Baillon throughout the 1950s and 60s. Baillon’s dream was to preserve the finest pre-war automobiles for display in a museum, and by the late 1960s he’d amassed a collection of 200 cars.
The collection featured names like Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot-Lago, Panhard-Levassor, Delahaye, and Delage, along with achingly beautiful coachbuilt one-offs and more modern vehicles from Ferrari, Maserati, and Porsche.
Unfortunately, Baillon was never able to build his dream museum. Hard times befell his company, forcing him to sell off a number of the vehicles he’d gathered. The rest were left to languish under ramshackle corrugated tin roofs, strewn about a property in western France to succumb to rust and dereliction. Thankfully, the California Spyder was stored somewhat more permanently, inside a brick garage–next to a1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport Frua, one of just three ever built.
Inexplicably, as the market for world-class vintage cars skyrocketed, the collection went entirely unnoticed for decades. It was just three months ago that Pierre Novikoff and Matthieu Lamoure of the auction house Artcurial came across the massive barn find. “When they mentioned a Ferrari California SWB I thought it was a joke,” Novikoff told The Telegraph.
The auctioneers examined the full collection and determined that 60 of the cars are solid enough to sell at auction. The remaining 40 will likely be sold for parts by the family. In a press release announcing the Artcurial auction, Lamoure compared the discovery of the Baillon collection to the moment when Lord Carrington and Howard Carter entered Tutankhamen’s tomb. “Never again, anywhere in the world, will such a treasure be unearthed,” Novikoff adds.
The total collection is estimated to be worth up to 15 million euros, or just over $18 million. Expect a huge portion of that to come from the sale of the Ferrari California Spyder, a model which regularly fetches $10-15 million. The auction takes place on February 6, 2015. If your accountant won’t be able to wire the money from your Swiss bank account by then, perhaps this gorgeously-crafted video tour of the collection in as-discovered condition will slake your thirst.