On January 23, British auction house Bonhams will be putting a suite of classic automobiles and other associated “automobilia” on the block at its Automobiles d'Exception à Rétromobile auction in Paris.
So what the hell does that have to do with professional cycling? If we’re going to rattle on about pretty metal things on display, accessible for purchase only by the fabulously wealthy, shouldn’t we at least be talking about the upcoming North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Richmond, Virginia, and not cars?
But in the course of looking for something else (cycling related, I assure you), I came across this blog post from Hemmings Motor News, which features seven Tour de France publicity caravan vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s sold at last year's auction. In it, Hemmings manages to capture some of the flavor of the Tour’s vaunted "pastis and accordion" era through photos, some pretty good snarky commentary, and plenty of auto-gearhead details and historical notes from the auction brochure. And there's not even the obligatory lycra joke that car publications are required to make when bicycling is mentioned. Who'd have thought?
Final selling prices ran a fairly modest gamut, from under €6,000 for a 1959 Hoover vacuum-mobile, since made over as a circus promo, to just over €40,000 for a creepy 1951 candy-mobile straight out of Beetlejuice. I don’t see any Tour caravan vehicles listed for this year's auction though, which is unfortunate, since I was just starting to picture myself driving a 1973 giant sausage on a Citroen chassis down I-95 to the handbuilt bike show.