For the 41th time The Retromobile in Paris opened the European classic car season and visitors came from all over the world. The first classics could be seen in the Parisian streets, while the big rarities are flaunting in the halls 1 and 2 of the fair grounds at the Port de Versailles. Almost 120,000 visitors stolled through the corridors of the fair – passing dealers, spare parts, automobilia and books. A few years ago the Retromobile considered more or less as a fair for classic thoroughbred cars. Dedicated to the clubs of major French brands and coach build masterpieces and a accordingly alinged spare parts market. The focus has changed in the last few years. The fair became international and the presentations of higher quality. Many lovingly prepared special theme displays pleased the visitors this year. And last but not least, the quality of the traded classic cars rose. Never before one could see as many high-quality Ferraris and racing vehicles from different brands, as at years edition of the the Retromobile. But also a clear trend can be recognized: classic sports cars are in demand. If ever a sedan could be encountered, then please with a lot of horsepower under the hood.
This trend is even reflected in the auction houses. Truly spoken , there was the one or the other sedan at Artcurial, but all of them had a sporty or luxurious gene: Facel Vega, Ford Comet or sporty variants of Delahaye from the 50s. Pre-war models remained almost unnoticed, except the cars where a Bugatti or Aston Martin badge graces the radiator grille.
This development pleases the visitors. Awesome, with glazed eyes, they stand in front of the cars and marveling at the beauty of legendary sports cars, known only from Coffetable books. Children’s dreams are waking up.
Also the international collector elite is found on the Retromobile. Paris is in these days “The Place to be”. Here, it´s during these days trading and buying in a big way. The prices scare even insiders and one wonders whether the called prices are probably the trend barometer for 2016.
The stands of the dealer offered some real rarities. Of course a racing legend of French automotive history may not be missing at a trade show of the Grand Nation: a Ferrari 275 GTB/2 adorned with a Tricolore, or the Porsche 356 GTL Abarth 1962 at the booth of Fiskens. On the same booth, the Bizarrini Competition or the elegant Alfa Romeo Competizione Coupé and the marvelous Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Daytona Coupe. The market speaks a clear language, everything is bought, which is fast. Right next to it, the Eskuderia Montjuich Ferrari 512 M, in very original condition. Terms like originality and patina were heard more this year than the last previous years and more and more dealers show appropriate vehicles at their booth this year. For example, a BMW 700 RS with two-cylinder Boxer engine, the pre-war Aston Martin Roadster, a Mercedes Benz 28/95 Phaeton from 1914 with a wooden body, the Porsche 904 at the booth of Axel Schütte, or the very original Mercedes Benz 300SL at Movendi.
HK engineering presented a wonderful Black Gullwing pre-owned from New York with patina. Next to it the prototype of Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster from 1955. Only five of the pre-series prototypes were ever biult and they significantly differed from the series vehicles. All were painted in this light blue metallic color.
A course over the Retromobile brings new surprises arround every corner. The exhibition of the 110 anniversary of the birth of the ACO about the history of LeMans cars was one of them. There was a rare Deutsch Bonnet, the Ferrari Dino Berlinetta prototype, or a solid acting Chenard & Walker From 1925.
A highlight of this year’s Retromobile was certainly the auction by Artcurial, where the Ferrari 335s factory race car was auctioned with the incredible record price of 32,075 million euro. He was of course putting some of the other highlights in the shade. As for example the Facel Vegas Prototype “V” from 1954. This elegant icon of French automotive art scored after all just right 500,000 euros. Also the Ferrari Testarossa Spider Valeo from 1986 scored a record price. 1.02 million euro were bid for him. Also at Artcurial, a clear tendency towards sporty vehicles was to recognized. Pre war vehicles could be found only on the edge. While many vehicles remained far behind the estimate price or were not sold, as also at the auction by Bonhams at the Grand Palais or RM Sotherbys at the Champs D ´ Elysee, the strong need of restoration worthy and original vehicles was astonishing. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA with significant traces of an accident from 1955 achieved about twice the estimated price of more than 440 thousand euros. This was also a record sale – Artcurial estimated even a world record. Over 45,000 euro were offered for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint and for the Lancia Flaminia Sport with a Zagato body even 175,000 euros, but the seller withdrew the sale because the price raised was not enough for him. A 1958 Fiat Abarth 750 GT Zagato barn find scored scarce 47,000 euro.
Even lovers of automotive art shouldn´t miss to come to the Retromobile. Through two long corridors, many artists and art galleries presented artistic photographs, sculptures, lithographs and graphics with a focus on present classic cars. And who even couldn´t find anything here, might be home with a small classic car from one of the booths with miniature models.
Conclusion: The Retromobile opened the season with a bang.