British brands wow guests at Paris' biggest classic car show, Salon Rétromobile
Tempus steps inside Paris' record breaking Salon Rétromobile
In the 12 years I have visited French classic car show Salon Rétromobile, the recipe and format has, in the most unapologetically French fashion, remained unchanged. The culmination of Paris Classic Car Week, Rétromobile ran from 5-9 February and saw a record number of 132,000 enthusiasts over the 5 days of the exhibition. There are no fancy champagne bars, no caviar. It is purely about the cars, with 620 exhibitors displaying the very best in classic automobiles. The Parisian classic car event has been hosted every February since 1976 and, as traditionally the first major classic car show of the calendar, always leaves big shoes to be filled.
This year was certainly no exception. There was a sense of euphoria as fans and connoisseurs flooded the avenues between big name stands, an atmosphere usually reserved for true concours affairs such as Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este. Every corner turned revealed an ensemble of vehicles otherwise only dreamt of. Citroën dominated the manufacturers’ displays, boldly marking their centenary year on home soil with an eclectic mix of prototypes and concepts from yesteryear. Retromobile has become increasingly well attended by manufacturers, especially as many develop and expand their own classic and heritage departments.
Bias aside, it was the British traders who stole the show this year. Fiskens’ array of metal on the centre stage stand showcased an original Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, which was perhaps the star of the week. Giarado & Co really stepped things up this year, raising the game from last year's four car display to take over 13 stands, offering something for petrolheads of all orientations. It is not often a Mercedes CLK GTR and Maserati MC12 Corsa are presented alongside a 1950 Alfa Romeo 6C. >>
Simon Kidston’s Retromobile debut this year was never going to be tame. Kidston's purple-carpeted stand featured seven of the most significant Lamborghini Miuras (and a 2+1 350GT for good measure). I was particularly enticed by his one of one Miura Roadster – finished in an as-yet-unnamed original Metal Flake Baby Blue with white leather interiors.
Once the delight of experiencing such calibre and quantity under one roof became manageable, guests were able to lose days in the Autojumble, perusing hundreds of stands selling everything from original 19th century Brass Carriage Lamps and foot pumps to new old stock Corgi model cars, pristinely parked in their original boxes. It is the juxtaposition of the hundreds of millions of pounds worth of notable cars alongside independent antique automobilia collectors and dealers alike that really contribute to the Retromobile’s unique aura.
Retromobile can be enjoyed in a day but we found ourselves popping back as often as we could during our four days in Paris with Bentley’s V8 Bentayga, discovering more gems with each and every visit. I already look forward to how the show and the exhibitors manage to raise their game again next year.