From a trio of Bugatti Royales to the only working Tiger II tank and one of the largest gatherings of Spanish Pegaso exotics, the diversity of special displays at Rétromobile from 4-8 February celebrated the show’s 40th anniversary in style.
But it was the 60-car barnfind hoard – dramatically presented in a separate hall prior to Artcurial’s auction – that was the talk of the week.
From the minute the gates opened to the prestigious Paris event, enthusiasts started queuing for the last chance to see the Baillon collection together before these challenging restoration projects were sold around the world. Enthusiasts even brought their own torches to examine the dark, atmospherically lit selection.
Other special displays included Milan architect Corrado Lopresto’s superb collection of Italian coachbuilt beauties and prototypes ranging from Aprile-bodied Alfa Romeo 6C 1760 GS to the cute Autobianchi A112 Giovani that Pininfarina showed just once at the 1973 Geneva Salon.
Manufacturers continue to support Rétromobile with impressive stands such as Mercedes-Benz, which featured a coupé theme headed by two experimental sensations, the newly recreated 540K Streamliner and the bold glassfibre-bodied Wankel-powered C111.
Not to be outdone by the Germans, Peugeot’s central theme celebrated the innovative retractable hood design (Décapotable) of Georges Paulin with a newly restored 1935 401 D Crouzier attracting big crowds.
Although American visitors were scarce this year, with many famous collectors staying at home, the dealers presented a dazzling range of greats. Fiskens’ stylish tartan-themed stand offered a spectacular set, starting with the 1923 Béquet Delage (in the latest issue of C&SC) to a timewarp 1973 Porsche 3.0 RSR R7 that finished fourth at Le Mans in 1973 driven by Gijs van Lennep and Herbie Müller.
Tucked away in a corner, Swiss dealer Lükas Huni AG gathered a stunning set of coachbuilt Bugattis and Talbot-Lago Le Mans cars.
Former Ligier GP ace Eric Comas had a busy show, chatting to fans about his passion for the Lancia Stratos while launching his new book on the rally wedge sensation. “As a boy I always wanted to be a rally driver but my parents stopped me,” said Comas. “I’ll never forget Sandro Munari winning the Tour de France in this amazing car.”
Clubs, museums, rally organisers and specialists all sourced attention-grabbing machines, and rarely seen highlights around the aisles included the sixth oldest Bugatti, an eight valve T13 from The Netherlands; the 1952 Socéma-Grégoire turbine prototype from the Le Mans museum, and the original factory body bucks for the Facel II.
An expansive model car village, a stylish automobilia area and an impressive art display offered everything from rare Supershell poster to a towering robot sculpture built from petrol cans.