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.