Last Wednesday I left with automobile enthousiast Bastiaan van den Berg of the Cinecars team and two journalist friends for Retromobile in Paris. Just a few weeks after the Interclassics in Maastricht, this is the second important Classic car exhibition, though much larger than Interclassics.
This event welcomes 180.000 visitors in just a few days. Because of their 40th anniversary, this year’s event was extra special, moreover because special attention was given to Bugatti and the auction of the Baillon collection. We made our trip to Paris in two parts, allowing us to have a first time ever experience: a stay in a F1 chain hotel. An experience to remember, making it possible to arrive quite relaxed at the Retromobile after e hard days work.
This exhibition shows the rich automotive past of France. I always thought that it was especially the UK that had numerous car manufacturers, but France is not far behind. Hundreds of small car manufacturers and many contributed to the development of the automobile. Peugeot, Renault, Bugatti and Citroen are known to us all. Simca, Matra, Talbot are already less well known. But what to say of marks like Amilcar, Société Anonyme des Anciens Etablissements Chernard et Walker, Automobiles Dangel, De Dion Bouton, Emile Delahaye, Société Anonyme Française des Automobiles Delage, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure et Loire, Jean Daninos (Facel), René Panhard en Emile Levassor?
So the photo’s are about well known and less well known car brands. Another thing I like about the French is that most of them really use their old classic cars. Many cars have a nice patina. The Frenchman doesn’t need a mint car, he wants to use it. So the looks are sometimes a bit shabby, the technics are perfect. Though there are some exeptions: car’s well polished and in mint condition, as you can see.
As mentioned before, Bugatti was one of the specials at this exhibition. For that purpose the organization had a first-ever: three Bugatti’s of the Schlumpf collection for the first time together outside the museum. We were able to see the Coupé Napoleon, a berline Park Ward and a replica of the Esders roadster. Still I‘m more fond of the Bugatti type 35, of which some examples were also present.
In the category normal cars I saw a Renault cabriolet with hardtop. I had to take some time to get used to the idea, because I know the car formost of the standard Hatchback form which was quite modern in those days. Also Skoda had some old beauties exhibited at their stand. More beautiful than the cars from the Volkswagen era. I saw a Skoda popular sport, which took part in the Monte Carlo rally of 1936. It was an example with hydraulic brakes. There was also a roadster version of the Skoda. Mercedes had the great Mercedes 540K Streamliner in their stand.
Another item in the exhibition was a show of the creations of Italian masters of cardesign: Bertone, Pinin Farina, Zagato…. A beautiful rare black Alfa Romeo 6C 2500SS Bertone was exhibited. There was also a very nice Lancia Florida Pinin Farina berlina with pillarless suicide doors. And a stunning Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato Aprile.
The stands of the guys offering parts for pre-war cars made me very happy. Especially those parts for forgotten makes. Older French gentlemen were chatting about their restoration of maintenance projects. It is not the largest show on the continent, but certainly one of high quality.