Just as January in Arizona signals the start of a new year for classic car enthusiasts in the United States, the first week of February kicks off the season in Europe with Retromobile, which is the largest show of its kind worldwide.
Held in the exposition parcs of downtown Paris, Retromobile is the place to see and to be seen, and the number of languages you’ll hear as you visit the displays and auctions is astonishing.
Of auctions there are three — by RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Artcurial, the hometown house which shocked the world last year with the barn-found Baillon Collection.
The heart of the show are the classic car displays from automobile manufacturers eager to showcase their heritage, from classic car dealers showing their wares, and from others as well, including a series of specially themed displays.
Modern manufacturers try to steal the spotlight each year. This year, to my mind, Renault did just that with its rich heritage of racing cars. The display is so impressive I actually read all the plaques sharing the details of each of the cars.
The top dealers also try to outdo each other, and often supplement cars they have for sale with the most rare street and racing cars borrowed from some of their best clients.
There also are car-club stands. They might not have the best locations or lighting, but they also are worth a visit and sometimes feature exceptional vehicles.
The show also includes a huge selection of automobilia including art, books and parts.
Oh, and there’s at least one other thing that makes Retromobila such an important destination. When you leave the exhibition halls, you are in Paris and are free to wander the amazing City of Lights.
Photography by Dirk de Jager