Report and photos by Csaba Kiss
On the first weekend of February, classic car fans and collectors took again with assault the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center from Paris, which hosted the 36th edition of the Salon Retromobile. The interest showed was quite easy to understand: almost 400 vehicles could be seen on stands belonging to more than 300 exhibitors that included manufacturers, marque clubs, dealers, insurance companies, as well as books, parts and accessory vendors.
Traditionally, one of the most important classic car events in Europe, Retromobile annually features various special anniversary exhibitions, and this year, the motorsport jubilees were the ones truly in the spotlight. The four racing cars from the fifties, wherewith the legendary argentine Formula One pilot, the hundred years ago born Juan Manuel Fangio won five World Championships title, attracted a huge crowd. Besides the three blood-red Italian stallions (Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159, Maserati 250F, Lancia-Ferrari D50) the odd one standing out was the German Silver Arrow, the Mercedes W196.
Another spectacular exhibition celebrated the 45 years of Gulf racing adventures. One of the most titled teams in endurance racing presented 14 racing cars from 8 different car builders, amongst which a McLaren M20 that won the Watkins Glen Can-Am in 1972, or a Porsche 917 that finished second at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1971. But the visitors of the Retromobile 2011 also had the occasion to admire a Le Mans winner: the Mazda 787B, powered with a rotary Wankel engine. The Japanese manufacturer (so far the only one which won at Le Mans) celebrated the 20th anniversary of this success with a motorsports-related exhibition.
Naturally, the most important local automakers (Citroën, Peugeot and Renault) had a strong presence in Paris, but, although the Lion brand exhibited some of its speed and endurance records achiever prototypes from the past, the most fascinating manufacturer stand belonged to Mercedes-Benz. The German brand is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and on this occasion, the Retromobile-public had the opportunity to see the first automobile ever, the Benz Patent. Surprisingly, the Mercedes-Benz 37/90 PS with a wooden body dating back to 1910, which clearly showcased the skills of the brand’s own restoration facilities, benefited from an even bigger interest of the car enthusiasts.
As expected, some of the fascinating French pre-war cars could not be absent from a classic car event organized in Paris. Three delightful vehicles were there to represent the amazing Bugatti 57 Type. An 57 Atlantic Spider from 1934 was offered for 450,000 euro, whilst a 57C Atalante from 1937 was sold for 580,000 euros at the official auction of the show, held by Artcurial. However, one of the absolute stars of the Retromobile 2011 was the third of what is now believed to have been four 57S Atlantic coupes.
The high quality of Salon Retromobile 2011 was also emphasized by the presence of two Talbot-Lago T150C-SS coupes with coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi: the winner of the Louis Vuitton Classic Award for 2010/2011, as well as the winner of the Best of Show award in 2010 at Meadow Brook. The latest will also be the star of the RM Auctions sale at the Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este to be held in May 2011.
Salon Retromobile 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger photo and description)
[Source: Csaba Kiss]