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Retromobile Star displays was courtesy of British restoration shop Hall & Hall

Paris, France, 8 – 17 February 2008

All the Threes – The sun shone brightly on the snaking queues at the Porte de Versailles in Paris, for the 33rd running of the annual Retromobile classic show. This year the show moved to two new halls in the exhibition complex, with the majority of the exhibits being in Hall 4, with further stands in the adjacent Hall 3.1, which included the Bonhams auction area. In previous years the auction has been the province of Christies, but with the closure of their motor auction division late last year, and the move of many of the key staff to the Bonhams camp, it was logical that they would take over this aspect of the show.

Novelties, Themes & Anniversaries – A new venture this year was a procession of classic cars running from beneath the Eiffel Tower through some of Paris’ major boulevards on a 30km route to the show on the opening Saturday morning, with models ranging from a 1931 Ford Model A through British classics like the MGA, to a Corvette and Facel Vega. One of the major themes of this year’s show was “Les Femmes et l’Automobile” (Women and the Car) with examples of women’s motoring fashion over the years, cars driven by well known female celebrities, plus period photographs and accessories. “60 Ans de Jeunesse” was the phrase which heralded the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Citroen 2CV on the French market, the corrugated “shed” with its small flat twin engine, that took motoring to the masses, which has become a classless classic. There was also a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the BMW “M” series, which started with the M1 model presented at the 1978 Paris Salon. Today the Peugeot marque is associated with mainstream models, but over the years they have produced a number of luxury cars, and they presented a selection of these just inside the main entrance, to illustrate their rich and varied history.

L’Aérotrain – Fifteen years before the French TVG (high speed train) system came into being, the talented engineer Jean Bertin brought his ambitious Aérotrain project to the attention of the French Government. The then President, Georges Pompidou, was enthusiastic about his proposal, and provided financial backing to the project, and work was started on a track between Paris and Orléans, the first stretch being 18km in length, on which the jet propelled Aérotrain ran at 300kph on its cushion of air. The Aérotrain that made this run was destroyed by fire in 1992, but visitors were able to admire the prototype “Aérotrain 02” along with archive models, photos and film.

Bonhams Auction – The Bonhams auction presented around seventy cars along with a small but select array of automobilia. The latter included a beautiful René Lalique “Vitesse” opalescent glass radiator mascot, whilst the automobiles included a “barn find” ex- fire service Cottin & Desgouttes four door tourer from the late twenties, an even earlier magnificent example of a 1905 Panhard & Levassor 10.6 litres Model Q, a 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic Coupé, and an ex-Nubar Gulbenkain 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith with a highly stylised Hooper body featuring a full Perspex roof. Mercedes Benz was represented by seven examples, including a 1928 26/120/180 S-Type supercharged 6.8 litre Roadster with Saoutchik coachwork and a 1936 500 K Cabriolet A which has been owned by the French artist Georges Mathieu for 50 years. At the sporting end of the spectrum amongst the offerings there was a 1989 Sauber Mercedes C9, a V8 Cosworth powered ALD C2 sports prototype from the same year and from an earlier era a 1927 Salmson Grand Prix car.

And the rest! - It is not only a number of major manufacturers like Citroen, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot and Renault together with the numerous single marque car clubs, that provide attractive displays, but also the numerous vendors who bring some superb vehicles to delight the enthusiast. Perhaps one of the star displays in the latter category was courtesy of the renowned British restoration shop Hall & Hall, their display included an Aston Martin DB3S, chassis # DP101/30, a 1926 Bugatti Type 39A, chassis # 4802, a Ferrari 330 P, chassis # 0820, a 1971 Ferrari 312 B2 F1 car, chassis # 007, and a Dino 206 S, chassis # 022. La Gallerie Des Damiers display included a pale blue “barn find” Cisitalia roadster, whilst across the aisle Carrosserie Lecoq showed a pair of Lamborghini Muiras, a P400 and the unique P400 SVJ Spider, chassis # 4808, presented at the 1981 Geneva Salon. E. Thiessen from Hamburg showed a Maserati 350 GT Vignale Spider, chassis # 1011017, a Ghia G230S Prototype amongst their offerings, and an Iso Grifo with a targa roof, chassis # GL 950 289, the 1970 Turin Show car.

... Hall & Hall Inventory >>>

Open you wallet! - Apart from the main displays, the widely diverse selection of goods available from the vendors in the trade, art and autojumble areas that surround the main displays, provide a great attraction. These groups come from a number of European countries, which makes for a rich diversity of goods on offer. The scale model area is always a popular attraction, as not only is there an abundance of mainstream die-cast examples, but you can admire some of the amazing creations amongst the artisan work of the handbuilt masters, and pay accordingly! Another area always worth a visit is the art gallery, which always has a fine display by some of the best artists in the motoring field. Retromobile offers something for every classic car enthusiast, whatever the thickness of their wallet!

Keith Bluemel

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