'Lost' Ferrari 250 GT Spider among Vintage Car Trove Up for Auction

Feb 05, 2015 08:00 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

The 60 classic cars recently discovered after being hidden away on a French farm for decades will be up for auction this Friday.

Curated more than 50 years ago, the find includes a Ferrari with a celebrity past that historians thought had been lost. 

The unique collection of vintage models bearing nameplates from Bugatti, Maserati and more is expected to bring in around $18 million, the AFP reported. The treasure trove was uncovered last year by Matthieu Lamoure, managing director at Artcurial auction house, and senior specialist Pierre Novikoff.

The vehicles are being auctioned off as is, and 50 years of sitting on a farm in western France has resulted in varying degrees of wear and tear.  

"The cars weren't stored in solid, purpose-built sheds, but completely makeshift constructions," Novikioff described their find in an Artcurial press release. "We came closer and realized that there were dozens of cars parked underneath. We soon realized that some of these had been put there 50 years earlier and left untouched."

One of the most noteworthy models is the Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, which is one of just 37 that were ever made.

French actor Gerard Blain bought the Spider new, and it was later sold to Alain Delon, another actor who was photographed with American stars Jane Fonda and Shirley McLaine in the Ferrari.

The California Spider is listed 13 times among the 100 most expensive cars ever sold. This particular model, which is completely original and has never been restored, was believed by historians to have been lost and illustrates how valuable the find was for car enthusiasts.

"We were overcome with emotion," Lamoure said of the moment when the cars were discovered. "Probably much like Lord Carrington and Howard Carter, on being the first for centuries to enter Tutankhamun's tomb."

Another fascinating find is the Talbot Lago T26 Cabriolet that was known as the "the Farouk car" due to reports that it was first owned by King Farouk of Egypt; however, contemporary accounts say that His Excellency Salah Bey Orabi of Cairo first acquired the vehicle.

He was married to Princess Nevine Abbas Halim, who was a member of the Egyptian Royal Family and daughter of Prince Abbas Halim as well as great-great-granddaughter of Mohamed Ali Pasha. 

"The couple lived a charmed life of privilege in the international jet set, but everything tumbled and they became social pariahs when King Farouk was overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution in July 1952 and forced to abdicate," reads the auction listing.

The princess is still living and divides her time between Egypt and France. 

The treasured cars found on the farm were left by Roger Baillon, a French transportation entrepreneur who badly needed money in the 1970s. While he had to sell around 50 models from his classic car collection, some of the cars stayed tucked away in the French barn until Novikioff and Lamoure found them.

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