French automobile couture at Osenat in Fontainebleau

Osenat's upcoming auction catalogue for its Fontainebleau sale on 23 March is a reminder to us all that France once cultivated a tremendously diverse automotive culture…

Not only was Parisian fashion once considered the ultimate in beauty and elegance, but so were French automobiles. Once glorious but now almost forgotten brands such as Delage, Delahaye and Talbot — as well as Citroën, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year — produced many ground-breaking new models in the pre-war years. A look at the latest Osenat catalogue reveals the splendour of this bygone era once again, from Gardener's turn-of-the-century “carriages” and Amilcar and Ballot's amazingly modern examples from the 1920s to the big icons, such as the Talbot Lago T120 Baby Sport and the Delahaye 125 M as either coupé or cabriolet, wearing bodywork by Chapron ,Dubos and Labourdette. The diverse, if only short, flowering of the French automotive industry in the post-war period is also represented by such examples as a wonderful Simca 8 Sport, a Panhard Dyna Z1, a Salmson Coupé and (a bit more bizarre) a Mochet CM-125.

But that's not all! After the tutorial in French car culture, Osenat takes us through the many decades of international automotive history. The 1960s are represented by a Fiat 600 Multipla, a Bentley S3 and a Ford Thunderbird, whilst the diversity of the 1970s is represented by an Alfa Romeo Montreal, a Land Rover Lightweight and a Pontiac Firebird. From the 1980s, the spectrum ranges from a BMW AC Schnitzer S5 to a Ferrari Testarossa. And if you like it more modern, you can also raise your paddle for a Porsche 964 Carrera 4 30th Anniversary model or a Jaguar XK8from the late 1990s. All 72 lots of the Osenat’s Fontainebleau auction on 23 March can be found in the Classic Driver Market.