Retromobile: Diverse R4 display among star attractions

| 28 Feb 2011

The halls were packed for a shortened Retromobile from 2-6 February.

Star attractions included a replica of the 1769 Fardier a Vapeur, the first self-propelled vehicle. The huge 2.5-ton tricycle was regularly steamed up for demos throughout the five-day show.

"It’s pretty easy to drive but the light steering has a lot of turns due to the tall ratio,” said driver David Falvey. “Reverse is the biggest challenge: you have to stop and push down a large pin to switch drive."

Renault's celebration of the R4's half-century took centre stage with 13 Quatr’elles, among them the prototype, Parisienne, Plein Air, Rodeo, Safari and pink Miss Sixty.

There were also some 4CV specials, all with Le Mans history, to mark 50 years since production ceased.

Paying tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio were an Alfa Romeo Tipo 159, Lancia D50, Mercedes-Benz W196, and Maserati 250F.

The Duncan Hamilton ROFGO Collection brought 14 Gulf-liveried racers. '83 Le Mans winner Vern Schuppan, who raced the Porsche 917 '026' at the Le Mans Classic, said: "I'd love another go as they've rebuilt the engine."

Fiskens presented a remarkable Ford GT40P. First owned by Peter Sutcliffe, Chassis 1009 was one of the fastest privateer GT40s. Having been in hiding for 35 years, it now looked stunning after Mark Allin's Precision Automotive restoration.

On the Hall & Hall stand was the Eric Broadley-penned Lola Mk6 GT that initiated Ford's Le Mans programme. Now Mecom team-liveried, the Lola has inspired historic ace Rob Hall: "It could run a 6-litre Chevy motor and is 100kg lighter than a Ford, so I'd love to show what it could do."

One of the most talked about cars was a cute 1926 Amilcar CGSS with Duval coupé coachwork. Its German owner spent 20 years restoring it.

Another talking point was the European post-restoration debut of the fabulous grey Bugatti Type 57S Atlantic '57473' on Swiss dealer Lukas Huni's stand.