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Paris, Porte de Versailles 1-5 February 2012

The 37th edition of the Classic Car Show took place on the first February week at the exhibition center at the Porte de Versailles. Traditionally one of the season openers the format of the trade fair was changed last year from the former 10 to a reduced 5 days show and just in its second year it proofed that this was the right decision. Even more exhibitors (approx.350) found their way to Paris so the Retromobile moved within the fairground to the halls 2/3 instead of the usual hall 7 to give even more space and a better arrangement of the different interests of the visitors as the range of exhibits is wide. Beside some special displays this includes classic car dealers of different price ranges (although the average is quit high compared to most of the other classic car shows), the more and more popular youngtimers, automotive art, books, spares and scale models.

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When opening the exhibition on Wednesday 11 o´clock people were already waiting in line to get in showing that the estimated 90.000 visitors might even be surpassed on the following days. Several announcements in the media and the internet prior to the Retromobile drew much attention especially the special display of the Mullin Automotive Museum . Collector Peter and Merle Mullin are known for their passion for French coachbuilt classics and they brought several of their museums highlights over the Atlantic to be shown in Europe for the first time including their both Best of Show winners at Pebble Beach. The collection came even more into focus last year when Mullin won the prestigious Concours for the first time with his Voisin C25 Aerodyne, this premium example of French automotive engineering before WWII graced the display aside the famous Bugatti Atlantic. Being one of just 2 surviving originals the Bugatti won BoS in Pebble Beach back in 2003 and is still considered being the most valuable car after its sale back in 2010. As the other example owned by Ralph Lauren was exhibited in the Musée Les Art Decoratifs at the louvre last year the Parisian could enjoy both cars just within one year. Beside the Voisin and the Bugatti a trio of Delahaye 145 V12 were displayed with interesting history. As the race period of the late 1930s was even more a question of national honour the French government set a prize money for the track record in Montlhery that was achieved be the first car of this trio making it “the million franc car”. Later these cars were entered in the 1938 GP season before two of them were rebodied by Chapron for road use as could be seen on the two examples at the front of the display. The Type 165 with Figoni&Falaschi in dark red was a development from the type 145 as well including the engine so this was the fourth V12 Delahaye visible, a number that can not be found elsewhere outside the museum. Another special car at the 10 car display was the Hispano Suiza Debonnet Xenia by Saoutchik that was very advanced in design back in 1938.

The Mullin Museum display was not the only special display on the Retromobile (whereas the most spectacular) as the visitors were expected by two Ferrari GTO right at the entrance, both in 3 and 4 Litre configuration to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this race icon.

When leaving the main hall 3 three smaller displays could be seen in hall 2, these included a display of the history of amphicars from their military usage to smaller commercial cars and a youngtimer gathering including the rally legends Audi Quatto, Lancia Monte Carlo or Peugeot 205.

Completely different from the French luxury cars of the pre-war era are the cars on the display for home-built cars, sports cars built by individuals during the 1960s and 70s, names like Piollet, Collet, Prab or Romer that are barely known.

Paris is also an important place for the large manufacturers and their works displays. Renault celebrated 110 years of engine development starting in 1902 when the own Renault engine replaced the earlier used De Dion-Bouton aggregates just to find its peak with several F1 world championships both in the own team or as supplier to the latest Red Bull racers.

Citroen theme this year was the conjunction of cars and arts in the companies history. The exhibition features some early advertisement posters, sculptures and two art cars, the Citroen GS painted by french artist Jean-Pieree Lihou in 1976 and the new concept Survolt.

Mercedes-Benz celebrates their history at Le Mans, the legendary 24 hours race they first won 60 years ago with the 300 SL. The car on display is one of the actual race entries restored back to former glory by the Mercedes classic center and features a huge spoiler to generate downforce while breaking. But the 300 SL is not the first attempt to win Le Mans as Mercedes was at La Sarthe before WWII with their 6-cylinder supercharged SS to fight the top dog of its time, Bentley. The third car on display was the Sauber C9 that was built by Mercedes in cooperation with the Sauber team back in 1989 to win the 24 hours for the second and last time in silver colours. But Le Mans and Mercedes-Benz was not always a successful story as the horrible accident of Pierre Levegh in 1955 comes to mind or the aerodynamic disaster of the CLR in 1999.

Former opponent Bentley and their sister brand Bugatti had a small two car display with a reconstruction of the 1922 TT 3 Litre Bentley and a nicely restored Bugatti T55.

An important part of the Retromobile are the premium dealers who choose Paris as their main appearance every year. Beside the annual repeaters like Gregor Fisken, Lukas Hüni or Hall&Hall this year saw a few new names or some who were absent for some years.

Spectacular new entrant was the booth of Ferrari and Maserati restorer Methusalem and dealer Franco Meiners who brought a superb selection of racing Ferrari and Maserati to Paris, these included a Maserati 300S and two Ferrari Dino who are regular guests at race meeting looked after by the Cologne based experts. But talk of the show was the unrestored Ferrari 250 Monza (0466M). The car was found back in 1977 in Uruguay but it was never brought back to running condition what is rather unusual when looking back at the value especially during the peak early in 1990. Today it is on the market after all those years and the next owner will have to restore it back to running condition without destroying the remaining originality. This should be quit a challenge and the classic Ferrari fan community will follow this with a lot of interest until the car might appear at the Cavallino Classic or in Pebble Beach one day.

Another highlight is always the booth of Swiss classic car dealer Lukas Hüni who brought no less than a doozen blue chip cars to Paris, some of them for sale and some of them from private collections to show his scope. Two Alfa Romeo racers with a lot of history and beautifully patinated by the time attracted a lot of attention, both of them former factory works cars built for the Mille Miglia. The 6C 1750 SS with Zagato coachwork is even believed to be the 1929 MM winner with Campari/Ramponi at the wheel, the 8C 2300 was entered in the 1931 season with drivers including Tazio Nuvolari before becoming part of the Scuderia Ferrari racing program in 1932.

One had the impression that this was a Maserati year as almost ever dealer featured a racer from Bologna, most of them in 2 litre configuration. The car on Hüni´s booth was a A6GCS/53 (2072) with the typical Fantuzzi-spider body and had only 3 owners from new.

The Maserati was flanked by two Ferrari 250 GT, both in LWB (1141GT) and SWB (3005GT) configuration, the second in the desirable SEFAC competition version. Less sportive but with great body-style was the Lancia Astura Cabriolet by Boneschi and one of just three Jaguar XK120 Supersonic, but as this is a French car show the center piece of the display were the two GP cars from Delage and Delahaye.

Not less interesting was the display of British classic dealer Gregor Fisken. The cars on display ranged form a double chain driven Panhard et Levassor from 1908 to a 1978 Ligier JS11/15 showing the development of the race car within these 70 years. To round up the center platform the Ford GT40 displayed was delivered to Ford France and was driven by no less than Guy Ligier to its first victory, the constructor of the Formula 1 cars. Ferrari was represented by a 275 GTB/C (07437), one of just 11 first series competition alloy cars and a Dino 206SP (032) that was repainted red after being yellow with green nose during the last decade.

No less than 3 Bentley from the Cricklewood era were displayed with the 1925 Le Mans Team Car (1138) leading the way. 1925 was the first factory works entry at Le Mans but one of the few tactical mistakes of WO Bentley took these favoured cars out of the race at an early stage. Back then the cars had to proof a functional hood by driving the first 20 laps with the hood up before they were allowed to enter the pits to take them down for the rest of the race. In the calculation of the fuel required for these 20 laps the Bentley team forgot the additional consumption due to the raised hood and both team cars were out of the race and the lesson was learned.

Another 2 Litre Maserati was shown at Fiskens, this time a 4-cylinder 200SI (2427) that followed the 6-cylinder A6GCS/53 to compete with the even 4-cylinder Ferrari of this era, the 500 Mondial and the 500 TR.

This also leads to the third dealer booth that competed with Fisken and Hüni during the last years for the best dealer display: Hall&Hall, the British specialist in race preparation of historic single seaters and sports cars. Hall&Hall had also a Maserati 200 SI (2419) on display together with other 1950S sports cars included a Ferrari 212/225 Inter Vignale Coupe (0237EU) and a Jaguar D-Type (XKD530). Beside further sports race cars like the Mirage M2 and a Porsche 962 the display featured several single seaters, the oldest one a 1927 Delage with straight-eight supercharged 1.5 Litre engine. From the 1970s the De Tomaso F1, a Brabham BT37 and especially a Ferrari 312T3 (034) drew attention.

But centerpiece of the display was the Auto Union Type D, exactly the same car that was announced 5 years earlier at the same venue at the Christie´s auction just to be withdrawn due to further investigations on its history.

Just after Christie´s in 2007 Bonhams took over the annual Retromobile sale for three years just to pass the torch to the Paris based auction house Artcurial. After their debut last year the overall quality of cars could be further raised showing that there is a good future for this sale especially when concentrating on cars either with French provenance or at least French history. Highlight and most expensive car during this years auction was the Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder (1283GT) once owned by French director, actor and author Roger Vadim. Prior to its sale the car was also the darling of the media due to Vadims lifestyle and the fact that it was driven in Paris in period. The Ferrari sold for about 4.5 million Euros and made this the most successful collectors car auction in France.

But the Retromobile is not just famed for the high valued cars but also for automotive art, automobilia and especially scale models.
These sectors might be present at other trade fairs as well but at the Retromobile they have their own space called the “Gallerie des Artistes”. Several artists from all over Europe show their work to their very international clients and when asked most of them consider the Retromobile as their most important show. One of these artists is Martin Otto Lambert Heukeshoven whose technical sculptures made from aged materials show the low point of the car life just as the above mentioned Ferrari 250 Monza. Paris is the place to show the sculptures like this years Ferrari 250 GT California or to get commissions for future work.
An important part is the scale model market as Paris attracts some of the best scale model builders from all over the world and not few visitors make the trip purely to see them rather than the full-sized cars. The range of models starts from simple kits to scratch built one-offs in different sizes. Of special interest are the wooden and wired body bucks as seen in 1/43 for the Ferrari 250 GTO by Pierre Laugier of LPCreation or the larger sized models of Patrice de Conto. But most spectacular was the 1/8 scratch built Porsche 936 by Built Up Models whose detailed chassis could be seen in Paris.

So this was another superb Retromobile ending this Sunday and we are already looking forward to next year´s edition. An old saw says “Paris is always worth a visit” and there are few weekends where this is more true than in the first week of February so mark the date in your calender for the next edition in 2013.

Text & images Peter & Wolfgang Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de

Keywords assgined to the RetroMobile images = Show Index
Retromobile (2012-02-04)
Abarth-Osella PA1
Alfa Romeo 1900 C SS Ghia Roadster
Alfa Romeo 1900C Super
Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS MM Spider s/n 0312867
Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Works Zagato Spyder s/n 2111006
Amphicars-Display: GMC DUKW military amphibious truck 1942
Amphicars-display: La Ford GPA 1942
Amphicars-display: La Trippel tye SG6/38 1941
Amphicars-display: L´Hydromobile 1942
Art Deco cabinet
Artcurial Retromobile 2012
Aston Martin DBR4-250-3
Audi 14/35 Alpen-Wanderpreis Sieger 1912
Auto Union Type D s/n 19
Automobile Art
Bentley 3 Litre Team Car s/n 1138
Bentley 3 Litre TT s/n 22
Bentley 3-4.5 Litre s/n AH1493
Bentley 4.25 Litre Malcolm Campbell Design VdP s/n B119GP
Bentley Speed Six s/n FR2630
Brabham BMW BT7
Brabham BT37 s/n BT37/02
Bugatti engine
Bugatti T43 Grand Sport s/n 43305
Bugatti T46 Cabriolet De Villars s/n 46360
Bugatti T50 C Torpedo s/n 50138
Bugatti T55 s/n 55206
Bugatti T57 C Galibier s/n 57806
Bugatti T57 SC Atlantic s/n 57374
Bugatti Type 28 Prototype s/n 5001
Chenard&Walcker T24 C
Chenard&Walcker Tank Z1
Chenard&Walcker Type U
Citroen 8A conduite interierue
Citroen GS X2 "Aux Fleches"
Cooper Bristol T20
De Dion Type K1 Monocylindre 8 HP Tonneau
De Tomaso F1 s/n 308/505/01
Delage 2LCV V12 2-litre GP s/n 3
Delage D8-120 Cabriolet
Delage DMS Cabriolet
Delage GP
Delage GP s/n 1848
Delahaye 135 M Chapron Cabriolet
Delahaye 135 M Short Chassis Roadster
Delahaye 135 Saoutchik
Delahaye Type 145 V12 Chapron Coupé s/n 48772
Delahaye Type 145 V12 Chapron Coupé s/n 48773
Delahaye Type 145 V12 Grand Prix s/n 48771
Delahaye Type 165 Figoni&Falaschi Cabriolet s/n 60744
Ferrari 212/225 s/n 0237EU
Ferrari 246SP/196SP s/n 0790
Ferrari 250 GT LWB TdF s/n 0909GT
Ferrari 250 GT LWB TdF s/n 1141GT
Ferrari 250 GT SWB SEFAC Competition s/n 3005GT
Ferrari 250 GTO s/n 4219GT
Ferrari 250 Monza s/n 0466M
Ferrari 275 GTB/C s/n 07437
Ferrari 312 B3 "Spazzaneve" s/n 009
Ferrari 312T3 s/n 034
Ferrari 330 GTO s/n 4561SA
Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Gr.IV s/n 13367
Ferrari 512 BB s/n 37351
Ferrari 712 CanAM s/n 1010
Ferrari Dino 196S s/n 0776
Ferrari Dino 206SP s/n 032
Ferrari Dino 246 GT s/n 02618
Ferrari Dino 246 GT s/n 07198
Ferrari related memorabilia
Ferrari Sculpture by Martin Otto Lambert Heukeshoven
Fiat 1100 Zagato Coupé s/n 331252
Fiat 1500 6 cylinder
Ford GT40 s/n GT40P/1003
Georges Irat MDU
Gregor Fisken Display
Gérin Aerodyne 1923
HH 49 Formula 2
Hispano Suiza Debonnet Xenia Saoutchik s/n 103
Hispano-Suiza Skiff-Torpedo s/n 12198
Hispano-Suiza T24-8/10 HP Victoria
Hotchkiss AM80
Jaguar D-Type s/n XKD530
Jaguar Lister Costin s/n BHL122
Jaguar XK 120 Ghia Supersonic 1952 s/n 679768
Lancia Aprilia Pininfarina Cabriolet prototype s/n 439-11844
Lancia Astura 4th Series Cabriolet Boneschi s/n 41-3125
Lancia Aurelia B24 Cabriolet s/n B24-1424
Lancia Fulvia Coupé 1600 HF Groupe 4
Lancia Lambda 8th Series Zagato Spider
Lancia Monte Carlo
Ligier JS11/15 s/n 004
Lola T280 s/n HU1
Lot 306 - 1971 Porsche 911 2.2L T Targa s/n 9111113151
Lot 311 - 1968 Aston Martin DB6 Coupé s/n DB6/2517/L
Lot 312 - 1968 Maserati Ghibli 4.7 Litre s/n AM.115.216
Lot 313 - 1989 Ferrari F40 s/n 80022
Lot 317 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE Cabriolet s/n 111.027.12000193
Lot 318 Lorraine Dietrich 12 HP s/n 16707
Lot 319 - 1933 Rosengart LR4 Torpedo s/n 52182
Lot 322 - 1913 Delauney Belleville Type O6 8L
Lot 323 - 1912 Clement - Bayard Type 4M3B Cabriolet s/n 19801
Lot 324 - 1948 Delahaye 135 M Cabriolet "Malmaison"
Lot 328 - 1912 Gobron-Brillie Torpedo Skiff Rothschild s/n 920
Lot 330 - 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Cabriolet s/n 486231090
Lot 333 - 1964 Facel Vega Excellence Serie 2 Berline s/n C105
Lot 334 - 1947 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet Franay s/n 800932
Lot 335 - 1035 Bentley 3.5 Litre Sport s/n B172 CR
Lot 339 - 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B s/n 154105
Lot 340 - 1938 Horch 853 Cabriolet s/n 853400
Lot 346 - 1961 Face Vega HK500 s/n BL13
Lot 347 - 1935 Lagonda M45 Tourer s/n Z10812
Lot 348 - 1970 Citroen D Super Berline decouvrable Chapron s/n 3850217
Lot 350 - 1947 Armstrong-Sideley Hurricane 16 HP
Lot 352 - 1934 Delage D6-11 Coupe s Brandone s/n 39909
Lot 353 - 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE SII s/n 4177GT
Lot 354 - 1968 Maserati Mistral 4000 s/n AM.109.A1.1584
Lot 355 - 1954 Cisitalia 33 DF Voloradente Coupé s/n 00510
Lot 356 - 1981 Ferrari 512 BB s/n 34517
Lot 358 - 1977 Maserati Merak SS
Lot 359 - 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Boano s/n 0543GT
Lot 361 - 1964 Porsche 356 SC
Lot 362 - 1954 Porsche 356 Pre-A Coupé
Lot 365 - 1984 Lancia Rallye 037
Lot 368 - 1971 Porsche 911 S/T Coupé Competition Gr.4
Lot 371 - 1955 Imperial Coupé Hardtop Newport C69
Lot 372 - 1964 Maserati 3500 GTi Sebring Coupé Vignale
Lot 373 - 1964 Lancia Flaminia Sport Coupé Zagato
Lot 374 - 1958 Lancia Aurelia B24 Convertible
Lot 375 - 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder Vignale s/n AM.101.997
Lot 376 - 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona s/n 12943
Lot 377 - 1967 Bizzarrini 5300 GT Berlinetta Strada Aluminium
Lot 378 - 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder s/n 1283GT
Lot 383 - 1947 Fiat 1100 S MM Berlinetta
Lot 393 - 1934 Panhard X72 Panoramique Berline
Lot 395 - 1951 Salmson S4 61 L Berline
Lot 396 - 1952 Hotchkiss 2050 GS Cabriolet Chapron
Lot 397 - 1937 Panhard X77 Dynamic Berline
Lot 400 - 1931 Talbot K74 Coach
Lot 401 - 1953 Talbot-Lago T15 Baby Berline
Lot 402 - 1939 Hotchkiss 686 Limousine Chantilly
March 793 Formula 3 s/n 12
Maserati 200 SI s/n 2419
Maserati 200 SI s/n 2427
Maserati A6G 1500 Zagato
Maserati A6GCS/53 Fantuzzi s/n 2072
Maserati A6GCS/53 s/n 2082
Maserati Mistral Spider 4000 s/n AM.109/SA1.733
Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage s/n 2454
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Air-Brake
Mirage M2/BRM s/n 02
Panhard-Levassor 12.5 Litre Double Chain Drive GP
Peugeot 201 Cabriolet
Peugeot 203 limousine commerciale
Peugeot 205
Peugeot BH Berline decouvrable
Peugeot Darl´mat Roadster
Porsche 550 A s/n 550A-0131
Porsche 910 s/n 910005
Porsche 911 S 2.4 L
Porsche 917-021
Porsche 962 s/n 962C-161
Renault 5
Renault 5 Turbo
Renault Alpine A443
Renault Display
Renault F1
Renault Type K 1902
Retromobile 2012
Sacle 1/43 Bugattis
Sauber-Mercedes C9
Scale 1/43 body bucks by Pierre Laugier, LP Creation
Scale 1/43 Chrono43 LeMans Scene
Scale 1/6, 1956 Ferrari D50 #0007 by Patrice de Conto
Scale 1/8 Porsche 936 Turbo fully scratch build by Built Up Models, France
Siata 208S s/n BS525
Skoda Felicia
Skoda Popular Sport Monte-Carlo
Talbot Lago Monoplace Décalée s/n 90130
Talbot Lago s/n 108
Talbot Lago T150 C s/n 82930
Talbot Lago T23 Chapron Cabriolet
Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Barchetta Motto s/n 110152
Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupé by Saoutchik s/n 110101
Talbot-Lago T120 Roadster
Voisin C25 Aerodyne s/n 50010
W.E.Ayrton&John Perry Electric Tricylce 1881