Rétromobile is firmly established as one of our favourite shows on the classic car calendar, and, as ever, this year’s promises to be a cracker.
That 2019 is Citroën’s centenary will be an undoubted highlight at the event, which takes place in Paris from 6-10 February, but there’s much more in store at the 44th edition, including a classic behemoth, a diminutive Brit, a unique Lambo and more.
In all, a total of 650 exhibitors, plus car manufacturers, dealers, traders, over 100 clubs, artists and more will be vying for your attention across the show’s three halls – that’s 72,000sq m of classics to enjoy!
Of course, there are world-class auctions taking place in Paris at the same time, but it’s not all about priceless classics, with an area at Rétromobile dedicated to classic cars for sale at under €25,000 (£21,600).
With around 600 cars on show, there’s going to be lots to see. Read on for our preview. And if you fancy heading to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles and seeing it all for yourself, click here for tickets.
100 years of Citroën
So let’s start with the big one: Citroën’s centenary.
In a country so loyal to its homegrown brands, it’s little surprise that the French marque is taking centre stage and we’re sure Rétromobile will do the brand justice.
Did you know, for example, that André Citroën was a pioneer in the field of advertising, too, and that his company was promoted in 250,000 electric lightbulbs on three sides of the Eiffel Tower between 1925 and 1934? No, us neither!
Expect a mouth-watering, 100th-birthday display featuring 30 cars spanning the marque’s history, taking showgoers from the dawn of the brand right up to the present day.
Citroën’s display will be split into three categories – icons, racing cars and concept cars – each showcasing 10 models.
Under the ‘icons’ banner, exhibits will include a Type A 10hp, a DS 21 Pallas and a Méhari, while 1956’s C10, the Camargue from ’72 and the wedge-tastic Karin of 1980 are among the concepts set to return to the bright lights of a motor show.
In addition, some of the evocative competition classics heading to Paris are a 2CV, DS21 and SM rally cars. And as Citroën has just celebrated its 100th World Rally Championship win – neatly in its centenary year – with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia at this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, the marque is sure to be flying high in Paris.
See these and lots more at stand 1F018.
60 years of Mini
The French don’t have the party all to themselves, even in their nation’s capital! That’s right, the Mini’s 60th anniversary will also be celebrated at Rétromobile.
The exhibit has been created in partnership with Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum and the Haynes International Motor Museum, and we fully expect the British classic to charm in Paris.
This could hardly be further removed from the Mini – and if visitors to Rétromobile don’t know the name ‘Berliet’, they will swiftly become acquainted with this unmissable exhibit.
Why? Because it’s a 5m-tall, 5m-wide, 15m-long, 50-tonne steel colossus. Michelin even designed bespoke, 1m-wide tyres for it. We’re talking about the Berliet T100, known as ‘The Giant of the Desert’.
It’s a vehicle that needs to be photographed with people to appreciate just how massive it is; simply getting it into the Rétromobile show space will be a feat in itself.
The Rétromobile appearance actually marks a homecoming for the Berliet T100, which was first revealed at the 1957 Paris motor show that also took place at Porte de Versailles. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, when new it was the world’s largest truck.
Four T100s were built, but just two survive, each powered by a diesel-fuelled, 24.25-litre Cummins V12 generating 700hp.
This is one not to miss at Rétromobile, which is a good thing as you’re unlikely to do so.
And if you want to check out its journey to the Porte de Versailles, you should follow #GeantDuDesert on Twitter.
Staying with unusual, low-volume vehicles, 14 of the remaining 18 Bédélia cars are coming to next month’s show.
The brainchild of Robert Bourbeau and Henri Devaux, the Bédélia cyclecar wasn’t conceived as a commercial product, but being lightweight and inexpensive, soon proved popular – and a race winner.
Simplicity, it seems, was key to this manufacturer’s success; in all, around 3000 Bédélias were produced.
Abarth is 70
Want another anniversary? You’ve got it. And this time we’re off to Italy to celebrate Abarth, which was established in Turin in 1949.
At Rétromobile, this will be marked with a collection of cars that all benefited from the specialist’s know-how: which likely means models such as the 1955 Alfa Romeo 750 Competizione and Lancia’s 037 of 1982.
There’s no news yet on exactly which models will star on the Abarth (FCA Heritage) stand, number 1G062, but rest assured that they’ll be on the special side.
Mini isn’t the only British star at this year’s Rétromobile. Thanks to Beaulieu National Motor Museum, a fresh-from-restoration 1950 BRM Type 15 will be wowing showgoers, too.
It was driven by the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Reg Parnell, and has been in the museum’s collection since August 1983.
UK specialist Hall & Hall’s meticulous restoration was no mean feat. For example, it involved checking, and in some case rebuilding, 2380 engine parts – and we can’t wait to see the result of all their hard work.
A unique Lamborghini
Any Lamborghini is sure to turn heads, but there’s one at Rétromobile that will do more than that, as many will never have seen it before.
So, what is it? It’s the Lamborghini Flying Star II concept which broke cover at the ’66 Turin motor show. Maintained in its original condition, this is a very special one-off. It’s also the last car designed by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera before the company’s closure.
See it in Paris on the Compiègne National Car Museum stand – and if you miss it there, it’s part of the museum’s concept car exhibition that’s running until March 2020.
Love Lambos? The firm’s classic department – Polo Storico – will be highlighting the work of its restoration specialists at Rétromobile and displaying a 1966 400 GT that’s currently being restored, as well as a completed Miura.
Another major manufacturer with a Rétromobile display this year is BMW, and it looks like marque fans will have a great variety of exhibits to enjoy.
The manufacturer is set to mark the 40th anniversary of its evocative Group 4 M1 Procar series, or if you fancy something a little older, a one-of-262 507 roadster is another model that’s been confirmed for Paris.
Find BMW’s stand at 1J063.
Renault revs up
Another French brand going big at this year’s event is Renault.
How big? We’re talking an 11-car display celebrating its turbocharged models, and one which shouldn’t be short on variety, either.
Precise models heading to Rétromobile haven’t been confirmed – which makes us all the more eager to head to stand 1F072 and take a look.
JLR turns heads
Let’s face it, it’s not hard for products from Jaguar Land Rover to turn heads and there will be plenty doing just that in the French capital next week.
How about an XJ220? Yes, that will do it. Once the fastest production car in the world approved for road use, only 271 were ever built, so this one is sure to attract attention.
Representing the manufacturer’s restoration work in its Classic division will be a Continuation D-type and a Range Rover Classic Reborn – while a Jaguar XE SV Project 8 will bring the stand bang up to date.
Eyeball-popping auctions – and classics you can afford
Be prepared to scrimp, save and maybe sell an organ or five once you see the many magnificent lots that will go under the hammer at the three Rétromobile auctions.
Between Artcurial, RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams, 29 cars are expected to sell for more than £1m each and if the Alfa above is anything to go by, many will far exceed this.
A beautiful 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B, it’s been consigned to Artcurial’s sale and it’s estimated it will find a new home for €16-22m – that’s £14-19.2m.
But before you remortgage your house or slope off, sobbing into your croissant, not every car for sale at Rétromobile has an eye-watering price-tag.
Make tracks for the section exclusively for classics for sale for less than €25,000 – and if previous years are anything to go by, you’ll find some very tempting propositions.
There’s so much to see at Rétromobile that we had to draw the line somewhere, but here are a few other highlights that might tempt you to make a trip across the Channel…
Peugeot is bringing seven cars including a 1930 201; a stunning Type 55 roadster will help Bugatti celebrate its 110th birthday; Bentley is kicking off its centenary celebrations by bringing its oldest remaining and first racing model, EXP 2, to Paris; Aston Martin will showcase the work of its classic specialists at Newport Pagnell by displaying a unique DB4 Convertible that’s part-way through restoration; and Honda’s paying tribute to the S2000 in its 20th-anniversary year.
Still want more? Well, if classic tanks are your thing, you’ll want to check out the Panzer IV and Sherman which will be at the Porte de Versailles. Love classic ’bikes? Head to hall 2/3 where, for the first time, there’s a dedicated show space for the show’s two-wheeled stars.
In short, there’s absolutely tons to see and enjoy, and we’re very much looking forward to our trip there. We’ll have full coverage of the show as it takes place, so keep your browser set to classicandsportscar.com for the latest news.
Images: Rétromobile/Citroën/Motorsport Images/Fondation Berliet/Friends of Bédélia/National Motor Museum of Beaulieu/Compiègne National Car Museum