Known as the home of the most glamorous Grand Prix meeting on the Formula One calendar, Monaco is also a mecca for classic and vintage cars hosting the biennial Historic Grand Prix, with the 2021 edition taking place on 23-25 April.
This salute to the city’s motorsport heritage sees champion cars from the pre-war era to the 1970s doing battle on its street circuit.
Also battling for pole position at the rostrum during the same weekend will be an exclusive array of collector’s road and racing cars offered in the Bonhams Monaco Sale.
Hosted in the iconic Fairmont Monte Carlo, the sale will boast the famous hairpin bend of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit as its backdrop.
Here are our top six lots at the auction…
1936 Delahaye 135 S Compétition Court
Leading the Bonhams grid is a rare 1936 Delahaye 135 S Compétition Court racing car, which campaigned in 1930s endurance races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Known as ‘Buzz II’ the Delahaye was purchased new by Irish American heiress Lucy Schell, who was the first female motorsport team owner, and made its debut on track at the 1936 ‘Three Hours of Marseille’ endurance race 1936 as part of Écurie Bleu, her three-car semi-works team.
The cars’ sky-blue paintwork, the French national colour, together with the muffled ‘buzzing’ sound of their engines earned them the nickname Blue Buzz’.
This Delahaye competed in pre-war Grand Prix races at Donington, Pau and Commiges and endurance races such as the Belfast Tourist-Trophy before its greatest challenge, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1939.
That same year, the Delahaye was rebodied in a more aerodynamic style by the respected coachbuilders Chappes Frères.
Following two subsequent ‘face lifts’ in the intervening years, the 135 S is now offered with coachwork in the style of the Chappes Frères bodyshell, retaining its original period running gear, engine and, most importantly, the original chassis – which is a rarity for a racing car of this period.
It is eligible for the 2021 Le Mans Classic (1 – 4 July) among a host of world-class vintage racing and concours events.
1949 Simca Deho Barquette, Coachwork by Motto
Also eligible for the Le Mans Classic is this 1949 Simca Deho Barquette (barchetta), the creation of racing driver Jean Estager. He decided to transform a Simca Eight classic into a race car with a 1086cc engine prepared by Simca specialist Roger Deho and a hand-shaped aluminium body by renowned Milan based coachbuilder Motto.
The car was sold in 1951 with its new owner wasting no time in entering it into the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Despite being entered with number 74 and drivers Dblon-Daguet, the car failed to make the start line, but redeemed itself participating in various sporting events in the early 1950s, notably at Montlhéry in 1953.
The barchetta was rediscovered in the early 2000s as a barn find, but still retaining its original chassis and engine. Its next owner, an important Delahaye collector, embarked on a full restoration of the car, although keeping the interior of the driver’s door in its original condition as a reminder of how it was found. Estimate €190,000-240,000 (£ 160,000 - 210,000).
1991 Isdera Imperator 108i
Leading the charge of exclusive and exotic road cars which would surely be at home parked in front of the Casino de Monte-Carlo is a gullwinged supercar rarity – a 1991 Isdera Imperator 108i, estimate €500,000 – 700,000 (£ 430,000 - 600,000).
The Imperator was the realisation of the Mercedes-Benz design experiment of the late 1970s. Engineer Eberhard Schulz, who headed the original concept design team, formed Isdera to build his own supercars.
The 30 examples produced over nine years remained true to the original simple concept. Super-lightweight striking gullwing coachwork on a tubular steel chassis married with outrageous power from the highly regarded Mercedes-Benz 5-litre M119 V8 engine, resulted in unrivalled performance for its time, with a top speed of 275km/h and an acceleration from 0 to 100km/h in five seconds.
The Isdera offered is finished in traditional Silver Arrows paintwork, emphasising the wedge-shaped lines, with contrasting black leather interior.
1983 Ferrari 400GTI 2+2 Coupé
When your name is Ferrari, it is not surprising that your motor car of choice would sport the famous prancing horse badge.
In 1983, Piero Lardi Ferrari, the younger and only surviving son of founder Enzo, took delivery of a new 400GTi 2+2 Coupé, produced to his own specification, which is now offered in the Monaco Sale with an estimate of €65,000-95,000 (£ 56,000 - 82,000) with no reserve.
Piero inherited his father’s passion for motor cars and mechanics, gaining a degree in mechanical engineering at the Fermo Corni Institute in Modena in 1964.
A year later, he was working for the family firm on the production of the Dino 206 Competizione racing car, where he is now vice chairman.
One of just 422 GTIs produced, the Ferrari of Signor Ferrari is the only one to feature a third seat on the rear bench and also included a desirable manual gearbox.
Former Belgian Formula 1 and sportscar racing driver Jacques Swaters and friend of the Ferrari family, was the second custodian of the 400 GTI in the 1980s. The GTI has been in the ownership of its third and current owner for more than 30 years.
1968 Citroën DS21 Décapotable
Perfect for cruising along the Corniches between Monaco and the French Riviera is the iconic DS or ‘goddess’, offered by Bonhams in its rarest and most sought-after variant, the décapotable, built by the renowned Parisian coachbuilder Henri Chapron.
Featuring the famous futuristic styling of the celebrated Citroen and the era’s most advanced technology including semi-automatic transmission, power steering and of course the hyropneumatic self-levelling suspension, this 1968 example is powered by the more potent 2-litre engine and has the most luxurious spec with full leather interior and metallic paintwork. Its estimate is €160,000 – 200,000 (£140,000 - 170,000).
1947 Cisitalia D46 Monoposto
Italy’s pioneering post-war competition car constructor Piero Dusio established his renowned Cisitalia company in Turin in 1946 – encouraged and abetted by dynamic racing driver Piero Taruffi.
The resulting Cisitalia D46 was a revelation – introducing what would become the modern form of multi-tubular ‘spaceframe’ chassis construction to maximise rigidity while minimising weight – thereby to obtain the best performance possible from its mildly tuned Fiat 1,100cc four-cylinder engine.
Learn more about Bonhams' Monaco Sale 'Les Grandes Marques à Monaco'.