The last time we visited Retromobile was in 2010 so we were overdue for a return visit. Our first treat was on arrival at the car park – a beautiful turquoise SM – we’ve no idea how the owner got it down the ramp without scraping it. We were ‘sensibly’ in a Smart Roadster. Top tip if driving to Paris – take a small car and check out OPnGO parking.
Our visit in 2010 was on a Thursday. This year Saturday was the only day we could make and boy was it busy. Top tip – visit on a weekday! Although it was busy we did get to see most of what the show had to offer.
Retromobile offers you the exclusive and exotic, alongside the quirky, the ancient, the retro, and concepts and prototypes galore. In fact we think you’d be hard pushed to find such a superb collection of original multiple-marque cars anywhere. The benefit of being in France is that the whole of Europe is easily accessible so there were displays from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and of course France, with Citroën and Renault obviously having a big influence. The two manufacturers were well represented with a number of their prototypes dotted around the show.
The Citroën DS X E-Tense was fantastic. In the world of mundane boxes, it is great to see car companies coming up with such stunning concepts and actually making them. This one came to fruition last summer for the show at Chantilly. Check it out here.
A Citroën SM converted into a car trailer was also pretty unusual – and the prototype it was carrying (which had more than a touch of Maserati about it) added to the novelty. In fact Maserati itself were very well represented – some beautiful Ghiblis and Boras caught our eye; with Lamborghini not far behind – Miuras were plentiful (with and without eyelashes), and there was even the odd Countach.
Electric cars could be found if you looked hard, but combustion was definitely king. Porsche’s latest offering (Taycan) was on display. The interior was quite under-stated and tasteful, and totally stripped back compared to the recent gadget laden, switch and knob-filled dashboards and centre consoles. It was also smaller than expected. You can find a test of the Porsche against the Tesla S if you fancy searching for them. It’s no 911 3.2 Carrera, but for a modern Porsche it wasn’t bad!
Two of the “never seen before” displays included the collection of ten Bertone concept cars including a V12 Lamborghini Minivan, and other cars that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond movie (think the Bond villain’s lair) or Thunderbirds. The Tatra display also attracted lots of attention. This Czech engineering company started up in the late 1800s, and produced some strangely beautiful cars (rear engine, air-cooled, which influenced none other than Ferdinand Porsche). Many of those on display were from the 1930s – the Tatra 77 with a vertical fin and curvaceous body, 3 litre rear-mounted V8 engine with… 60 bhp. Elegant and original but could probably do with some more horses!
Having been to more car shows than we care to mention, we are always pleasantly surprised when visiting shows in France at the number of original cars we see for the first time. We highly recommend Retromobile as an outing for all Petrolheads. You can stop off on your way down to see us!
All photos reproduced by kind permission of S. & S. Barlow