Report and photos by Csaba Kiss
The Salon Retromobile 2015 was held 4-8 February at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center in Paris, France. Retromobile celebrated the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest indoor classic car events in the world in a truly royal way. The Parisian show and trade is the traditional season opener of the European classic automotive scene and the nearly 100,000 visitors of the anniversary edition admired the three Bugatti Royale cars from the Cité de l’Automobile in Mulhouse.
Known as the biggest, the most beautiful and the most extraordinary model in the world, the large luxury car with a 4.3 meter (169.3 in) wheelbase and 6.4 meter (21 ft) overall length was built in only six examples. Two of them – the Coupé Napoléon, Ettore Bugatti’s own car and the Limousine fitted with bodywork by Park Ward – have been purchased by the Schlumpf brothers, whose collection later was transformed into a car museum in Mulhouse. They also commissioned a replica of the Esders Roadster, which was assembled using original Bugatti parts. The dramatic two-seater open body was built initially on the chassis no. 41.111, but that later has been rebodied into a Coupé de ville.
Another highlight of the anniversary show was an exquisite selection from the world renowned Lopresto Collection. Milanese architect and property developer Corrado Lopresto spent his life tracking down and collecting prototypes and cars with unique coachwork. His passion for Italian auto design has enabled him to build up the only collection of its kind in the world – that has earned over 180 awards in the most prestigious Concours d’Elegance (Pebble Beach, Villa d’Este, Amelia Island, Goodwood and Chantilly). Six Alfa Romeos, three Lancias, OSCA and Autobianchi were presented in Paris, all of them unique creations of the greatest Italian coachbuilders – Bertone, Pininfarina, Zagato, Vignale or Carrozzeria Touring.
Style was one of the main attributes of the Pegaso as well – as well as power and speed. Every year from 1951 to 1956, Pegaso cars were presented at the Salon de Paris. Production ceased in late 1956: a total of 84 cars had been produced. The special exhibition at the Retromobile aligned eleven of them – bodied by Touring, Saoutchik or Serra, the biggest prides of Spanish automotive industry have been equipped with 2.8 and 3.2 liter V8 engines. The fastest Pegasos could reach 155 mph (249 km/h), exceeding Ferrari autos, thus making it the world’s fastest production car at the time. Visitors could admire two other Pegaso cars at the 2015 Salon Retromobile, one at Fiskens stand, and another exposed by the Spanish classic car restaurateur and dealer Pueche – the Z-102 ENASA from 1951 was the second prototype and now is the oldest existing Pegaso.
As usual, the French manufacturers sat at the center of the show – literally and figuratively. Citroën celebrated the 60th anniversary of the iconic DS, presenting every version – Saloon, Cabriolet and Estate – while Renault commemorated the 50th anniversary of the type 16 (produced between 1965 and 1980 and voted European Car of the Year in 1966). But the ‘biggest party’ was thrown at the Peugeot stand, with no less than four different anniversaries: 40 years for the 604, 50 years for the 204, 60 years for the 403 and 80 years for the 402.
Even though Mercedes-Benz and Skoda don’t compete in the same category on the new car market, the two manufacturers with quite remarkable historic heritage usually have their small but impressive stands sitting next to each other at the Retromobile. Alongside the unique 300 SL from 1953 with its magnesium-alloy bodywork and the C-111 concept car from 1969, Mercedes-Benz caused a sensation by presenting the amazing 540 K Stromlinienwagen. Designed just before the Second World War for a race that was ultimately cancelled, hidden away during the war and forgotten in the ensuing turmoil, this aerodynamic silver arrow has just been restored to its former glory.
Skoda brought some vehicles with great historic significance as well, like the Laurin and Klement Voiturette A, the first ever Czech car from 1905, or the Skoda 966 Supersport. This racing car is the only example that survives of the three produced in 1950. It was the fastest of its day in Czechoslovakia (197.8 km/h), and struck fear into the hearts of its rivals on the Czech circuits.
Photographer Csaba Kiss documented Salon Retromobile 2015. We split up Csaba’s pictures into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view of Sports Car Digest, while the second gallery can be found by clicking here and gives a comprehensive view of all the 180 photographs.
Salon Retromobile 2015 – Featured Photo Gallery
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