Paris Rétromobile 2007
For 10 days or so in February every year, 27,000 sq mts of exhibition space in south west Paris is transformed into a Mecca for classic motoring enthusiasts. Returning after a two-year break, I thought it was one of the best yet, and on an opening day when pretty one anyone who was anyone in the collectors’ car industry was present, it soon became apparent that Paris Rétromobile cannot afford to be missed.
As ever, the exhibition had several ‘themes’, some set by the inevitable French motor industry presence, and some by the organisers who’d made a special central display showcasing the cars - and drum kit - of well-known collector and racer Nick Mason. On the stand were one of his pre-War ‘LM’ Aston Martin Ulsters, a 1970 Ferrari 512S, the immortal Ferrari 250 GTO, a Le Mans Porsche 962, a McLaren F1 GTR (that I last saw outside Alfred Dunhill’s flagship store in London) and other cars, too many to mention, that make up the Ten Tenths fleet. The man himself was on hand for interviews and judging by the crowds on Friday, it proved a popular spot.
Eat you heart out Aston Martin, French manufacturer Citroën had a James Bond car of its own on display - the 2CV driven by Roger Moore in ‘For Your Eyes Only’ – as well as other famous cars such as the one-off four-door SM built for George Pompidou in 1972. Peugeot was showing off its sporting credentials with a variety of streamlined Le Mans cars, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz had big stands with some fantastic ‘money-no-object’ restorations from their heritage divisions including the Alexander Calder ‘Art Car’ BMW CSL and 300SLs aplenty to remind enthusiasts of the 50th anniversary of the Roadster.
On the Italian front, both Alfa Romeo and Fiat had attractive stands with some stylish (Alfa Romeo T33 Stradale and 8C 2300) and cute (Fiat 500s , including the rare little Giardiniera estate) cars. But it was of course the expensive exotic classics we’d come to see, and Rétromobile 2007 did not disappoint, via a fine selection of trade stands from some of Europe’s finest dealers, many of them familiar to Classic Driver readers.
Speedmaster had a big display that included two fantastic GP cars, the Aston Martin DBR4 and Ferrari 312B, while Hall and Hall were definitely making a statement with a stand that featured an ex-Bira ERA, a Jaguar D-type, and the colourful 1954 Ferrari 250 Monza, complete with Carrera Panamericana sponsorship. German specialists E. Thiesen showcased cars such as the yellow Bizzarrini and Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, and Marseille-based dealers GTC had an ex-Le Mans Daytona Competizione and the Ferrari 250LM that future world champion Jochen Rindt steered to victory in his home grand prix in 1965.
And if they weren’t exhibiting, the lure of Paris, the show itself and the Christie’s sale (reviewed elsewhere on Classic Driver) brought many personalities from the upper-echelons of classic car consultancy, auctions and trading. Seen visiting on the Friday were David Clark, Adrian Hamilton, Simon Kidston, Gregor Fisken, Michael Brinkert and Simon Hope, Simon Khachadourian of London's The Pullman Gallery, and Richard Gauntlett.
RM Auctions were showing an early, highly desirable, entry to the Maranello sale (a 1970 Ferrari 512S), while Bonhams Europe had on their stand the ex-David Black 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 that will be auctioned at this year’s Goodwood Festival sale.
Needless to say, a significant proportion of the show was devoted to models, paintings, antique luggage and other collectibles that make a visit to Rétromobile so enjoyable.
Car of the show? The Martini-liveried 1971 Porsche 917 'Lang Heck' without a doubt. And to buy? You wouldn't go far wrong with GTC's racing Daytona...
Rétromobile 2007 will be open until the 25th February so there is still just enough time to hop on the train and make your way to the Porte de Versailles. I recommend it; do it in a day and have the rest of the weekend off.
Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Classic Driver - Strictly Copyright
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