June 15, 2012

Monaco Royal Family Cars


Long story, but I used to live in Monaco. Way early Internet startup days. Anyway, as the monarchs of tiny states are wont to do--the Sultan of Brunei comes to mind here--SAS le Prince Rainier liked to collect cars. It was kind of a thing in Monaco; there was a museum or something, a tourist attraction in line with the antique doll and automaton museum and the oceanographic museum that previous generations of Grimaldis had created. Something for everyone to visit during the daytime, I guess. I never saw it, but times change, and here it is, being sold at auction next month.

And random doesn't begin to describe it. There's a US-spec VW Bug the Prince bought from an ex-pat Canadian in London; there's a 1968 NSU Sport Prinz Coupe [no relation] which entered the collection, droit du seigneur-style, after it was "discovered in a parking at Monaco where it was stored for many years." And so in terms of Sultan of Brunei-ish high performance family trucksters or custom royal station wagon treasures, this is about as close as it gets:


If nothing else, buying a former royal car assures you high-quality maintenance and low kilometrage. This 1981 Citroen CX Reflex D Break has just 37,000 km on it, and is reported to be in "superb" and "immaculate" condition. It's only listed, however, as "Achetée neuve par le Palais de Monaco," which sounds like a company car-type situation. No documentation that S.A.S. ever actually S.A.T. in it. [Lot 11: Est. 10,000 - 20,000 €, no reserve]


Contrast that with Lot 26, this rather homely 1980 Citroen CX 2400 Pallas which is described as both, "Achetée neuve par" and "Voiture personnelle de SAS le Prince Rainier." And it has the km to show for it: 53,000. I'd guess that if it was registered with diplomatic plates, the car was used to go between the Principality and the Grimaldis' country place in France. Which means that Princess Grace probably rode in this car as well, which, well. [Lot 26: est. 6,000 - 10,000 €, also no reserve]


Mais, qu'est ce que c'est ca? Lot 23, a 1983 Mercedes 500 SEC AMG, which the Prince purchased himself from the local dealer, and which he customized to his own specifications, with all blue-black exterior and interior? And it only has 8400km on it? Princess Grace died in September 1982. This car went in for its first and only scheduled service, at 1693km, in March 1983. But the Prince's final insurance card for the car covers 1996-97.


The pathos and provenance are strong with this one. As is the appeal to my high school self--and my dad self; those are real back seats there, you know, and these pillarless coupes have this hilarious extender arm that delivers the seat belt to you when you turn on the car. The kid'd love it. [Lot 23, est. 15,000-25,000 €, no reserve.]

July 25-6, Les Réserves de la Collection de Voitures de SAS le Prince de Monaco [artcurial.fr]

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