I caught up with Christian Philippsen, an auctioneer and motoring enthusiast with his own impact on the motoring world. He now aims to impact the online car trade with his new project LeBolide, an online auction platform for interesting cars.
J.Brodie : What is the principle of LeBolide?
C.Philippsen : LeBolide is a platform that connects vendors and buyers. We are not a traditional auction house, but we are following an auctioneer process. Meaning we put a car online and potential buyers bid online. We believe we offer the best of both worlds, actually, because we offer the auction process with a deadline so interested parties must commit if they want to buy one of our lots. On the other hand, for the vendors, they get to keep their cars with them as opposed to having to deliver them to an auction venue.
JB : How would a vendor go about listing a car and how much would it cost?
CP : It’s almost free of charge. What we expect from the vendor is quality photographs and details collected on our online questionnaire. The vendor is then assigned an editor to write a description of the car. For this we ask €99 but we are waiving that fee for the 100 first lots. A vendor has all of the benefits of an auction process for the price of a small ad!
JB : What makes LeBolide a safe place to buy cars?
CP : The last thing we want is for a buyer to discover something new upon collecting their purchase. So, we expect complete transparency from the vendor to avoid this. I believe it is important to do things right from the start.
JB : What would you say is the target audience for buyers on LeBolide?
CP : The English language has a very appropriate description. We sell cars to the discerning motorists. That’s almost untranslatable into French but it is that. We sell cars to people who love cars and really enjoy them. I think that calling them discerning motorists is absolutely perfect.
JB : It states on your website that you specialise in ‘interesting’ cars, classic or modern. What can we expect to see up for auction?
CP : We deal with a great variety of cars. Classic or modern, small or big. We would be happy to sell a Citroen 2CV and we would be happy to sell a Bugatti Veyron.
JB : What is the most interesting car you’ve had on auction so far?
CP: Amongst the most interesting classic cars we have a totally original Alfa Romeo 2600 by Bertone, On the other hand we have some interesting modern examples such as the 300hp+ Honda Civic Type R with spoilers everywhere.
JB : Plenty of range then. I understand that the current Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted your plan to launch auctions in May. When can we now expect the auctions to be launched?
CP : Yes, we were planning on launching auctions right now actually, at the beginning of May. We do have cars committed already. However, I want it to be a continued process, I don’t want any gaps where we are left without a car. That is what could have happened if we were to launch now. We expect these very complete photographic reports and vendors wouldn’t, in every case, be able to take their cars out to photograph them. We have to wait for new consignments that include these very comprehensive photographic reports. This will be possible from May 11 in France as I understand it. Then we need to market ourselves and the auction lots in the media. I think we will be ready by mid-June.
JB : I noticed a competition on your website with a total €20,000 in prize money. What inspired the decision to launch a competition of this nature?
CP : When we realised that we wouldn’t be able to launch auctions as planned we tried to think about how we could benefit from this ‘in-between period’, and how we could expand our community as well. Then we came up with the idea of a quiz. 29 questions, one a day from May 9 to June 6. The prize money will then be distributed among the competition winners and will contribute to their next bid.
JB : What are your thoughts on an electric future?
CP : I would say it is inevitable. It’s absolutely certain that the future of the motor car is electric. We’ll see whether it will be batteries or fuel cells for instance, but the electric motor is unavoidable. It’s a must! I will miss the music of the ICE though.
JB : Can we expect to see any electric cars amid your auction lot line-up in the future?
CP : Of course, of- ourse, we would be very happy to present an electric car. A Tesla would no doubt fit perfectly in our line-up.
JB : What inspired you to take on this project in the first place?
CP : I have always been involved in the auctioneering world but more recently I have been watching a US car auction website. They now list 50-60 new cars a day and sell three-quarters of those cars online and that inspired us, I thought it was a brilliant process. What we also provide is the ability to comment on every single lot. You would be surprised by how much knowledge you can find within a comment section that provides that extra bit of history and interest to a model.
JB : Finally, and this is a tricky one, what is your all time favourite automobile?
(Christian laughs) CP : Just one? I might give you a different answer tomorrow but I think fairly definitely one car that stands out to me is the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Uhlenhaut Coupé”. Daimler-Benz developed only two models for the 1956 season but withdrew from the motorsport season after the 1955 Le Mans tragedy. I’m not frustrating anyone by mentioning this car as the only models in existence belong to the Mercedes-Benz museum.
JB: The usual answer to that question is the Ferrari F40, but it’s nice to hear you go down a more historic route.
CP : I used to have one actually. I bought it from new and unlike most of the buyers in those days and many buyers today, I did not buy that car as an investment. They didn’t enjoy them as they didn’t use them. I kept the car for three years and did over 30,000km in the car so I drove the car on a daily basis. Its great fun on a track, at 1,000kg it’s not like the two tonne cars of today.
Daily driving and tracking the iconic F40? This petrolhead certainly can’t think of anything better than that!
To Discover more about Christian Philippsen head to his site here: https://christianphilippsen.com/en_US/