Rétromobile kicked off last night in a snowy Paris – and we were there for all the action.
All three halls at the first big international classic car show of the season were packed with classic stands that lacked none of the savoir faire that we’ve come to expect from this superb French exhibition.
Leading the way was Renault, with a large stand encompassing cars from throughout its long history. It showcased an impressively diverse selection of vehicles, including a set of Alpine A442 and A443 sports cars which raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the late-1970s and a jewel of a 1900 Type B featuring a 450cc De Dion-Bouton single-cylinder engine.
Citroën had also pulled out some great presidential vehicles, including the open, stretched SM Présidentielle which regularly played host to Georges Pompidou and the extraordinary high-roofed DS Limousine built for General De Gaulle.
Another highlight was a special display celebrating the life of French motor racing ace (and French Resistance hero) Jean-Pierre Wimille, featuring a Bugatti Type 59/50B, Alfa Romeo 308 and three prototypes bearing his name.
There was also a strong British presence, with dealers JD Classics and Fiskens leading the way. The JD stand featured everything from a Fiat 8V to an ex-Bruce McLaren E-type, while Fiskens' had a 1912 Stutz, Brabham BT 49D and Maserati 250F driven by Jean Behra.
William I’Anson also had a great selection of vehicles on his stand, with a stunning 1968 Renault Alpine A220 that had raced at Le Mans twice, while restorer Jim Stokes brought a beautiful Alfa Romeo Alfetta restoration that they are undertaking to show off their superb craftsmanship.
McLarens were prominent throughout the show, with the ex-Senna F1 car on the Unique and Limited stand and a fantastic spread of cars on the Richard Mille stand, including M8, M7 and Le Mans-winning F1.
As ever, there were some quirky gems that haven’t been seen before, such as the 1922 aircraft-inspired Maratuech three-wheeler and an excellent display of WWI and WWII tanks and armoured vehicles from the Musée des Blindés in Saumurs.
Another French museum, the Palais de Compiègne, brought an impressive display of unrestored veteran and vintage French cars which is not to be missed.