Classics reclaim the streets for massed Paris celebration

| 12 Jan 2016

Just two months after the devastating terrorist attacks that stunned the world, more than 800 classic vehicles gathered in the French capital on Sunday for the 16th Traversée de Paris. The brilliant biannual massed drive, which this year honoured women drivers, featured everything from veteran bicycles and cars to tractors and commercial vehicles – such as the Renault Goélette breakdown pick-up of illustrator Thierry Dubois. The oldest car taking part was an 1899 Voiturelle Decauville.

 Vehicles converged around the Château de Vincennes start point from all over Europe, including Spain, Germany, Belgium and the UK for the event organised by the multi-marque Vincennes en Anciennes club. Joe Herbert had travelled down from Cambridge in the lovely Derby Bentley 4.25-litre that he bought about four years ago. “We’ve never done it before,” he enthused, “but it’s an amazing experience, with a fantastic range of cars. No problems at all on the way, either, at 18mpg.”

 Fellow first-timer David Bracey was in the superb ’65 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage that he bought “about two-thirds restored” seven years ago: “We were booked to come in August, but we live in Maidstone which was slap in the middle of Operation Stack so were weren’t going anywhere.” (thanks to Julian Parish for the photo)

 Optional stopping points on the loop around the city centre included Place Félix Eboué, Place d’Italie and Place du Panthéon – or wherever participants felt inclined, really, such as Place Vauban where the immaculate Renault 5 Turbo 2s (top photo) had paused for a coffee. The same group included mates with an early Land-Rover, a Cobra rep, a Triumph Herald and a BMW E21 3 Series.

 Les Invalides proved popular with many people including Jean and Marcelle Odoul with the gorgeous 1940 Hotchkiss Monte-Carlo S that Jean bought as a wreck in 2005. “It was taken apart a few after years after the war,” he explained, “which meant that various bits were missing, including the dashboard so I made a new one and rewired the car myself.”

 Cars lined both sides of the famous esplanade, too. A vast American-car contingent boasted dozens of Ford Mustangs – French singer Johnny Halliday did Rallye Monte-Carlo in one in ’67 – as well as this gleaming clap-door Lincoln Continental convertible, with a rare ’72 Ford Gran Torino Squire in the background.

 Many local cars – such as this lovely early Deux Chevaux – proudly flew the tricolour as part of a week-long commemoration of the Paris atrocities 12 months ago.

 Here are a few more of our favourites, reflecting the staggering range of machinery taking part… such as this typical cross-section, with a fabulous ’54 Chrysler Newport with a Lancia Fulvia and a Renault Frégate

 Charming 1923 Model T Ford tourer was one of the oldest cars

 This funky VW SP2 was spotted at Les Invalides, alongside a magnificent Austin Princess

 Nearby was this rare Ford Taunus 12M coupé, as a late Renault 12 drove past

 A nice pair of vinyl-roofed saloons: Mk2 Escort 1.3 Ghia with Simca 1301 Special

 This outstanding Ford Thunderbird pulled in for petrol at the garage where my Citroën was parked overnight…

 And here it is – probably the scruffiest car on the event – with an ex-Gendarmerie Renault in rather better condition. When was the last time you saw an R14?

 Find out more about the club and the next Traversée here