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What not to miss at Rétromobile 2016 in Paris

Over 120,000 enthusiasts and collectors are expected to descend on the City of Light this week, to kick off the European events season in quintessential French style at Rétromobile. Here’s what not to miss…

With more than 500 exhibitors displaying their wares – be it classic cars, restoration services or collectables – in the charming Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles in Paris later this week, getting the most from Rétromobile takes some careful thought. Hence we’ve compiled the most important things to see during your visit to what will become the temporary collectors’ car capital of the world. 

Exciting exhibitions

Rétromobile’s scale and grandeur has always been impressive, but it’s the carefully curated exhibitions that are where the event’s really made its name over the last several years. The 41st running looks to be no different, with exhibitions dedicated to, among other things, the chic photography of Jacques Henri Lartigue (much of which was automobile-related), 110 years of the Automobile Club de L’Ouest and the extraordinary 60-year career of 'modern age' designer Philippe Charbonneaux.

Also gracing the show floor will be a collection of cars owned by a female collector in a predominantly male world identified only as 'Julia', who also competes in historic racing. Her collection fittingly includes a number of cars raced or owned by famous females in period, such as the ex-Patsy Burt McLaren M3A and the Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupé originally owned by Kitty Maurice. As usual, a host of manufacturers will also present important heritage cars, often alongside their current contemporaries – Maserati, Bugatti, Porsche, Aston Martin and Renault are just a few of those in attendance. 

Chequebooks at the ready... 

Whether you’re in the market for a multi-million-euro blue-chip classic or simply want to wander the endless stands daydreaming, you’ll be catered for at Rétromobile. In fact, the event offers the chance to see more Classic Driver dealers in one place than anywhere else, collectively offering a truly world-class selection of cars.

Always a significant presence at the show, Fiskens will return to Paris with a typically eclectic collection that includes a beautiful ex-Derek Bell Ferrari 166/246 Dino single seaterWilliam I’Anson will surely pique the interest of Porsche enthusiasts with the 1973 Sebring 12 Hours-winning 911 2.8 RSR, while JD Classics will also enthral visitors with 12 of its immaculately prepared machines, including a Ferrari F40LM and a stunning burgundy Ferrari 365 GTB4 ‘Daytona’.

From the European contingent, we’ve already sneaked a peek at the three Porsche 911 Carrera RSs that FA Automobile will be exhibiting. The Gallery Brummen will show 12 exquisite cars including the first production Maserati Bora, and HK-Engineering will display two very special Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwings’ associated with David Douglas Duncan, one of the fathers of modern photojournalism, whose 100th birthday would have fallen this year. One is the car Duncan used almost daily for over 40 years, and the other is the ‘secret SLS’ prototype that he covertly captured for Life magazine in November 1955 on the picturesque Alpine roads of Germany and Switzerland.

Head to the stand of Parisian dealer Mécaniques Modernes & Classiques, meanwhile, and a stunning Ferrari 275 GTB with French competition history and a Tricolore paint scheme will greet you. Elsewhere, you’ll also find cars from Thiesen, Eleven Cars, Serge Heitz, Jean Lain Vintage, Movendi, Monaco Legend Motors and De Widehem Automobiles

Going, going, gone

A focal point of the week for collectors in particular will be the now-traditional auctions from Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s and Artcurial. Following the hysteria surrounding the sale of the Baillon Collection last year, Artcurial returns to Rétromobile with a trump card arguably just as special – the 1957 Ferrari 335 S, raced in period by such legends as Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips and Stirling Moss and later owned by the famed collector Pierre Bardinon.

Highlights elsewhere in the catalogues include Coda Ronda and Coda Tronca (round- and kamm-tail) versions of the Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagatos, and the 1955 ex-Frankfurt Motor Show Porsche 550 Spyder. You can read our dedicated previews for each auction elsewhere in the magazine and, as ever, check back on Classic Driver later in the week for the latest news from the salerooms. 

Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2016

You can find all our Rétromobile 2016-related stories collated here