When the first car you see at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles for Retromobile is a Citroen Mehari, you sense it’s going to be a pretty damn good show. Then, having been glared by another surly showgoer for standing right at the entrance, you’ll recall there’s another 60,000 square feet (apparently) to go and explore. This includes 550 exhibitors, more than 500 cars and over 100 car clubs too, it says here.
Seriously though, Retromobile is an absolute treat if you are into any aspect of classic cars. Before you’ve even reached anything beyond four wheels (bar the Mehari, that is) there are stands full of old service books, press pics and vehicle parts, the sort of fabulous collectible stuff that has people like us cooing and gawping in amazement.
Both modern and classic cars are on show at Retromobile, but with the emphasis of course on the latter. Unsurprisingly too it’s a big show for the French manufacturers, with Renault, Peugeot and Citroen wheeling out some spectacular stuff. Look at that 5 Turbo! See also the Porsche 928 Shooting Brake, Mercedes C111 (plus the 450SLC rally car) and Land Rover’s extensive display of both restored Range Rovers and those – how to put this politely – awaiting restoration. They’re worth more if you call them barn finds, right?
Then there are the cars on offer from the dealers, the collections and the auction house – way out of reach for most of us, but simply being able to admire an EB110, or the 250 Breadvan, or an early Countach, remains quite something. Those collections are mini car shows in themselves; imagine heading down to Paris with a view to actually buying something…
Of course the average showgoer can purchase a car at Retromobile too, just in 1:18 scale. Actually, given the quality of some of the models, make that 1:43. Or 1:64. There are cars for all budgets, from 10 euros to many hundreds (and some even without price tags), making it all the more difficult to return empty-handed. I will have a Corvette C7.R die-cast car one day…
There are also stands selling hats and gloves and tweed (a staggering amount of tweed, in fact), though really they are simply distractions from the main event at Retromobile 2017: the Group B exhibition. Marking 30 years since the formula’s demise (we make it 31; you wouldn’t grumble if you’d seen the cars) it features a sport Quattro, a BX 4TC, a pair of 037s, a Metro 6R4, a Delta S4, two 205 T16s, a 5 Maxi Turbo and an Opel Manta. There’s even a Mazda RX-7, showing how extensive the collection is. On our Friday visit it wasn’t tremendously busy either, meaning you really could stand there and ogle the beautiful brutality for quite a while. So I did.
On top of this there are bikes, books, and all manner of other motoring bits and bobs at Retromobile. It’s an autojumble crossed with a classic car concours crossed with a toy shop, and I loved it. An afternoon isn’t enough to fully appreciate it, so get yourself an early Eurotunnel and make a day of it in 2018 – latest opening is 10pm, and tickets were from 18 euros this year. Then of course when the show is finished, you’re left in one of Europe’s best cities. Retromobile may not be a show you’re all that aware of – on this brief visit however, it absolutely deserves to be.
Published at Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:11:56 +0000