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It would probably be fair to say, that the annual Salon Rétromobile in Paris is effectively a summit for the best of the best within the classic car world. Here’s why you should go:

Well, because it’s a summit of the best of the best. It is in fact as simple as that. Where else will you experience everything from Amilcar to Zagato, from Berliot trucks to Bizzarrini racecars – or from humble family containers to the rarest of the rare road cars? Formula One, Le Mans, Group B-rally. Luxury, sport, economy. Okay, maybe not so much of the latter, to be honest – but it IS there if you look for it: Super Renault 5, anyone? It was up for auction with no reserve.

It’s of course the other categories which draw the headlines anyway, and it’s also here that the most reputed classic car dealers try their upmost to outshine each other. For the innocent bystander, this has an almost overwhelming effect on one’s senses: I can’t recall to have ever seen one of the super rare Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR in real life before, which is no wonder as only around 25 were built. In Hall 1 there were 3. Three! Their combined value would be around 15-18 million Euros. Or – eeh – a bit less than the Mclaren F1 GTR LM which was also present somewhere in that same hall, between the three Mercedes-Benz.

So you think that’s too modern? Then forget them, and dwell instead by the many, many magnificent pre-war machines which dealers, collectors, clubs and not least auction house Bonham’s brought to Paris for the occasion: On the Thursday’s auction, which seemed to be a never-ending affair proceeding well into the evening, several of the star cars achieved prices over one million Euros. And if you are not interested in the prices as such, then let me assure you that no one pays prices like that unless the cars are pretty significant. I’d also never seen a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540 Cabriolet A either, and this one was nothing short of amazing.

RM Sotheby’s star car was a Ferrari F40 which competed twice a Le Mans 24 Hours – amongst other venues. We often forget that even though the F40 has the fiercest look of all the Eighties supercars, it was actually not meant to be a racecar and very few were – making this a rather rare beast. I’d give it bonus points for not being red, and someone found the combination to be worth 4.8 million Euros including premium.

Truth be told, I actually thought it more significant that the sole Bugatti EB 110 Super Sport sold for 2 million Euros. Might it have something to do with the fact that Bugatti is celebrating 110 years as a marque? I actually doubt it, and think it is more a sign of the EB110 finally coming of age: It always was my favourite from the hoard of Nineties supercars, and it seems it has other and wealthier fans than just me.

My favourite one-upmanship was at the stand of Lukas Hüni: It was dedicated solely to Lancia, and basically featured everything of the very best that the famed Italian company had ever manufactured for the road. Amongst that of course the Stratos – my favourite (except the Maserati A6G Zagato…) car of all times. This car is pure genious on so many levels that I could barely contain myself. Only there was not just one Stratos, but seven. Yes, Seven! It was as if I had dies and gone to heaven…

That was just the Wednesday and Thursday round up in very short, and as you dear ViaRETRO reader are taking in these words, I will be back for more this lovely Friday. Friday is dedicated to finishing off Hall 1, venturing into the other halls, as well as attending the third and last auction of the weekend held by Artcurial. Somewhere there is even supposed to be an area dedicated to affordable cars – amazing span, isn’t it? For now, I’ll let the picture gallery tell the tales of what is on display and what I’ve gawked at in amazement – so far.


10 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk

    I have to get to this show sometime! Seven Stratoses in a row – and in such a fabulous range of colours – what a line up! And a 507…even a dodgy colour scheme can’t spoil the beauty of that car. Looking forward to seeing the report on the rest of your visit, Claus!

  2. Claus Ebberfeld

    That’s my point, @tony-wawryk : Everyone has to go there at least once. Besides the seven Stratos in a row there were three others around the halls. One so very, very special that it should and probably will get its own article.

  3. Anders Bilidt

    Like you @tony-wawryk, I too have yet to experience Rétromobile. An absolute must-do!! Desperately need to go next year…
    The array of Stratos is indeed fab.
    But then there’s that stripey MVS Venturi 400GT!! So 90’s and so awesome!! :-)
    Oh, and could some one help me identify that silver or champagne convertible which is vaguely visible to the right of the BMW 507?? Just can’t pinpoint what it is, but looks very neat…

  4. Claus Ebberfeld

    @anders-bilidt , the silver car is an AC Ace Bristol – see below. Lovely, lovely car, that.

    The Venturi 400 GT is also one of my favourites, and although I in many ways would prefer the standard car this custom painted one was just so far out that it actually worked. In the halls was a real race version of the 400 GT as well.

  5. Claus Ebberfeld

    Aaah, THAT: Well, no wonder you didn’t recognize that – personally I did not even know about if before I saw it in real life. It is a 1964 OSCA 1600 GT Spider Maina Cabriolet with bodywork by Fissore – around three were built.

    So I’d say you’re excused! Besides that it was in fact a really interesting car, of course with the lovely twin cam also found in the OSCA-variant of the Fiat 1500 Spider.

  6. Tony Wawryk

    @claus-ebberfeld that OSCA is lovely, as indeed is their version of the Fiat 1500 Spider that you mention.
    With regard to this car, the rear seems to have echoes of the Karmann Ghia “Razor-edge”, would you agree?

  7. Anders Bilidt

    WAUW…!! What a fabulously good looking little convertible! I knew that Fissore had designed at least a couple of different coupé’s for OSCA, but I had never heard of the OSCA Maina Spider before. But I really, really do like it.
    @claus-ebberfeld, thx for the picture and for educating me… ;-)

  8. Claus Ebberfeld

    It didn’t sell, @anders-bilidt , so the chance is still there :-)

    However I think its biggest competitor is the standard Osca 1600 Spider, which I’ve always found rather nice as well.


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