With the history of the automobile now in its second century there are many renowned marques celebrating
decennials each year. After Ferrari and Porsche having dominated the scene with their 70th in previous years,
this year will see the centenary of two very different marques, Citroen and Bentley. Whereas the French
marque is known for their transportation for the masses the British marque is certainly more on the exclusive
end of the market. Founded by charismatic W. O. Bentley, the early history in Cricklewood is very much
linked to long distance racing and touring when the famous Bentley Boys won Le Mans no less than 5 times
in the late 1920s before the winged B found a new home with its former rival Rolls-Royce. Today Bentley is
part of the VW Group and the small stand on the Retromobile showed the oldest surviving 3 Litre Bentley next
to the latest Continental GT.
Even 10 years older is the history of Bugatti, today like Bentley an exclusive part of Volkswagen. Unlike the
British sister company Bugatti cannot look back at a continuous history. After the original company was
closed it took many years for the name to reappear with the Bugatti EB110 built in Italy rather than in
Molsheim, and although this is certainly not the period that is in the focus of today’s marketing the EB110
certainly is a great exhibit on the 110th anniversary. The Italian Bugatti certainly profits from the recent boom
of the more modern supercars and not only did RM sell one of the Supersport pretty well but also two more
could be bought at the Retromobile.
This also leads us to the commercial part of the show with the premium dealers always bringing their best
inventory to Paris for a very international clientele. The bridge between show and sale can be seen at the
booth of Lukas Hüni every year as his inventory is much more a show of clients’ cars than actual sales
inventory and so the Swiss dealer can concentrate on themes. This year Hüni devoted to Lancia with a great
selection of cars from Turin. Just at the front one could see a range of colors on one of the most iconic Lancia
models, the Stratos. Furthermore, the Aurelia and Flaminia models were very well represented but center
stage were a trio of rally cars from the Delta and 037 series in addition to the D23 brought over from the
A few prewar models could be seen inside including a wonderful Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet that was seen
in recent years at Chantilly and whose sister car won Pebble Beach a few years back.
Just across the red carpet another display looked very similar to Hünie’s former display, but this time it was
one of his clients who brought his collection of Citroen DS including all the rare Chapron special editions of
Further special displays showed a range of Minis and 14 of the remaining 19 Bedelia Cyclecars.
Simon Kidston was new to the show (as exhibitor). To promote his forthcoming book on the Lamborghini
Miura he brought several examples to Paris, including a rolling chassis and the hot SVJ with its numerous
Just around the corner Richard Mille had a great selection of McLaren F1 cars including the famous MP4/4 of
Ayrton Senna as sold last year by Bonhams.
Gregor Fisken once again was one of the highlights of the show with a superb selection from his inventory.
The range span from the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, a great set of Aston Martin DB4 GT including one of the original
19 Zagato versions, great open 1950s racing cars like the Jaguar C-Type and the Maserati A6 GCS, a set of
pre-war Bentleys from Cricklewood and Derby, three Ferrari including a 250 GT LWB California Spyder and
the 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione, a BMW Batmobile and a Shadow F1 car.
New this year in Hall 1 was Max Girardo who went big taking over the vacant space of JD Classics. After
smaller displays in recent years Girardo matched Fisken in space and also in quality. In addition to Fisken’s
example one had a choice of another two Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, furthermore a Jaguar Lightweight, two very nice
Touring Cabriolets from Alfa Romeo (1900) and Aston Martin (DB4) and a Ferrari Daytona Spyder could be
seen. Over the last months since his departure from RM Sotheby´s Girardo became known to have a soft spot
for the Lancia 037. Not only do his great Christmas videos feature this car regularly but also his inventory
always seems to include one of them, so it was only natural to have a full rally car here. The display also
featured some of the most popular recent supercars including a Jaguar XJ200, the Maserati MC12 Corsa as
well as a Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, one of three examples on show in Paris -- apart from a FIA race car
another example was brought by the Cultivated Collector from the US alongside the Schuppan 962 CR and a
As mentioned earlier, beyond the show there were also the auctions going on in Paris and the official auction
of the Retromobile once again was held by Artcurial. We will report separately on this sale but their selection
of car was a great addition for the visitors of the show. Their 42 Million Euros sale was headlined by the star
lot, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Touring Berlinetta achieving almost 17 Million alone. Since the sale of the Baillon
collection 4 years ago the flagship sale of the local auction company brought highlights every year and might
be considered as the most important European Auction in the calendar.
Once again, the record setting Retromobile was well worth a visit and not only does the trade fair offer some
highlights in cars but there also there are quite a few other sites charming any Paris traveler. And so for many
collectors the trip even from further away can be combined with a weekend in the French métropole for the
wife, something Essen has trouble matching in a few weeks’ time.
Report & images ... Peter Singhof