By Fabrizio Panico
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Once again February brings us back to Paris, both for Retromobile, and for the traditional auctions of Artcurial, RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams, a visual overdose enriched by a certain elegance, even if you start to perceive some slight fogging due to the changing tastes of the public. On the other hand it is for the market to dictate the show and not our personal interests.
This year Paris greeted us with windy days, but fortunately without the snow of last year. Alas the defections of the big automakers continue from their previous showcase of the Champs Elysées. First Citroen, Mercedes and Toyota left, now Peugeot has left its showroom too, leaving only Renault in the place that was a symbol of French motoring. How much longer before there are no showrooms on the Champs Elysées?
As usual, the Parisian show has attracted fans from all over the world. It is rich in novelties, celebrations of anniversaries, and exhibitions dedicated to specific brands. Even here there were alternate presences and absences: FCA is back, the absence of Mercedes-Benz is alas confirmed. Brand and/or model clubs attend in abundance, although their grouping together in Hall 3 reduces their presence a little.
Big celebrations took place of the centenary of Citroen with a great review of cars and prototypes, unfortunately narrow corridors meant the exhibits were difficult to walk around. Peugeot was a little poorly represented , maybe we had become used to better shows in previous years, whilst Renault chose to devote itself entirely to the ‘Turbo Years’, with the result of a series of cars of relative ‘aesthetic’ interest.
The general impression was of a reduced presence of real “vintage” cars in flavor of newer ‘classics’, which are evidently the most requested by the public today. This is the market! Fortunately the Teuf Teuf Club and the Compiègne Museum exhibited a rich collection of De Dion Bouton vehicles, while a specific exhibition was dedicated to the Bédélia, a classic of French cyclecars.
Another ‘gem’ on show was the monstrous Berliet T100, a giant destined for the African deserts and whose journey from Lyon to Paris constituted an adventure, considering its dimensions are ‘out of the norm’.
A rich collection of motorcycles from Gnome & Rhone was on show, as well as a display of the Citroen DS Chapron, in all their variants. Honda was celebrating the twenty years of the S2000 (too new in the Author’s opinion to be at such a show). The long suspension bridge between Hall 1 and 2 housed the Mini exhibition, celebrating their 60 years. There was an interesting cutaway Mini, but perhaps they could have included more variants : the Moke and the Mini Marcos appeared a bit lonely. As usual, the Saumur museum presented two tanks, a Sherman and a Panzer IV.
After lookinmg at all the displays there were plenty of opportunities to spend your money. There were many Dealers with their “jewels” and of course scale models, spare parts, books, and accessories. Add to that the wide range of goods from the many artists and artisans.
Again a show not to be missed where there is so much on offer that everyone can find lots of interest. The photographs below show some of the highlights of the show.
Citroën – 100 Years Display
Citroen GS Camargue Bertone 1972
Renault 1000kg Voltigeur 1956
Delahaye 135 M Figoni Falaschi 1946
BMW 320 Group 5 Junior Team 1977
Alfa Romeo 750 Competizione 1955
Lancia Rally 037 1982
Abarth 1000 monoposto record 1960
Jensen CV8 Mark III 1965
Classic early Léon Bollée advertising material
Wolseley Hornet Mark III 1969
Gnome Rhone motorcycle and side car outfit
Bédélia BD2 1912
Tiffany Golden Spirit 1986
Alfa Romeo 8c 2900 B Berlinetta Touring 1939
Scale Models Club display on the theme – Peugeot