Weirdies and exotics dazzle as Rétromobile opens its doors

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Glamorous Paris spectacular Rétromobile opened to the public this morning and was instantly swamped with enthusiasts drawn to the French capital's Porte de Versailles exhibition centre.

With the show now split into two halls and a link corridor, manufacturers and dealers dominate the larger while the clubs, automobilia and art pack the other.

As has become traditional, three dealers have the lion's share of the main hall — Lukas Hüni, Hall & Hall and Gregor Fisken — showing a fantastic raft of super-exotica.

As well as his usual line-up of road and racing greats (below), Hüni has an entire second stand paying homage to the Citroen DS.

Hall & Hall's display is focused on the legendary ex-Ickx, Bell and Mass 1982 Porsche 956 (chassis 001, main image), but a 1961 Vanwall (above) and ex-Paris-Nice Bugatti T57 (below) also stood out.

The stunning livery of the 1966 Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari 275GTB/C (below) drew bustling crowds to the Fiskens stand, but there was plenty more mouthwatering kit on there, including a genuine 250 Testa Rossa, Aston Martin DB3S and a brace of Vintage Bentleys.

As ever, the trio of major French manufacturers took huge space in the middle, but, lurid Citroen Xanthia aside, Renault's display of weirdies, including stretch Fregate, vintage street-sweeper and 12-wheeled truck stole the show.

It was other lesser-known cars that really piqued the interest, however.

Four cars from long-gone French manufacturer Germain Lambert were especially fascinating.

Ranging from 1931 to 1949 and from a racer to a pick-up, the Bugatti-cum-Voisinesque cars proved an education even for even diehard enthusiasts.

Quite apart from a Mirage jet fighter and recreation of France's oldest steam locomotive, there were plenty more oddities to admire.

With help from the Lane Museum in the US, there were no fewer than five propeller-driven cars (above), a Roland Garros record plane alongside the famous Bugatti T18 Black Bess (two above), a Colani Abarth-Alfa and a Conrero Alfa (below).

The Louwman Museum presented just three cars on its stand, but the single 1903 Spyker and pair of spectacular Benzes looked amazing on their raised platforms alongside another brace of racers from the Mercedes-Benz museum.

More pictures: 

Bugatti Type 57

Figoni-bodied Delahaye 135

French tribute to homegrown talent, ex-Prost single-seater

Philippe Losson display included impressively equipped DS Safari

Peugeot showed off its pioneering side as well as its bread and butter classics

Trio of greats from Ford, Lancia and Porsche

TD-based Arnolt-MG is always a welcome sight 

1952 Cisitalia 202SC Gran Sport on the Marreyt Classics stand

'Barnfind' Delahaye was nicely presented

Delahaye Club stand is always intriguing. This is a 1952 235 by Chapron.

1939 Hotchkiss 686 PN Monte-Carlo

Sweet Amilcar

Stunning line-up of Peugeot 205s kicked off with T16

Lotus 23 was sole exhibit for Club Lotus France

Lovely headlight detailing on Vedette V8 club's star exhibit

Unlikeliest couple on Vincennes en Anciennes stand — Isetta and Lambo GT

Trio of De Dion-Boutons showed breadth of production

Imposing 1937 Railton Fairmile MkIII dhc was tucked away in a far corner

1954 Salmson 2300S

D-B single-seater. Those are exhausts protruding from the front, not nudge bars

Cute Fiat-Stanguellini 1100 Nazionale from 1947

Alfa TZ on Classic Car Associates' stand

Autobianchi Abarth A112 

Comments

Mario Laguna

James, thank you very much for the wonderful preview. I'll be frustrated if the snow delays tomorrow the TGV to Paris. M,

Chris Martin

Mario is lucky he only has a train ride to get there, I am a bit further away, and every year the mix of classics at Rétromobile makes me envious I am not there. Ok, no excuses, I will start planning for next year now! Of the above, the F&F Delahaye and the later coupe would be my faves, equally I would give the vintage Renaults garage space, but it is the lesser known oddities like the Leyat and Lambert displays that make the show stand out from the rest. See y'all Feb '14 ! Chris M.

 

Mario Laguna

Chris, two-hour sharp each way and 40' commuting by tube from the railroad station to the show main entrance. The tribute to Germain Lambert was somehow moody in a dominant black and white atmosphere. Mario

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