It’s not quite a British invasion on the scale of the Le Mans 24 Hours, but there was a strong contingent of Brit dealers and visitors to this year’s Rétromobile at the Paris Expo.
Under new management, and back to its old five-day slot in early February – rather than last year’s over-long ten-day event and 2009’s relationship-unfriendly Valentine’s weekend – the 2011 Rétromobile was a great success, packing the single hall with enough exhibits to keep visitors satisfied for at least a full day, many for two or more days of the five day show.
British dealers Duncan Hamilton provided the most photogenic display of all, with the previously unseen (and only recently assembled) ‘ROFGO’ collection of 14 Gulf-liveried race cars. London-based Fiskens and Lincolnshire-based Hall & Hall went head-to-head with equally impressive stands, only rivalled by Zürich-based Lukas Hüni’s stand, the centrepiece of which was the infamous ‘number 3’ Bugatti Atlantic – chassis number 57473, hit by a train in 1955 killing the owner and one of his mistresses, before eventually being resurrected by restorer Paul Russell with help from Lukas Hüni himself.
Rétromobile has always been well-supported by Citroen, Peugeot and Renault, and this year was no different, with lavish stands featuring staple models, but fewer of the concept cars and one-offs that we’ve seen in the past. Surprisingly, Mazda had bagged prime spot at the entrance to the hall with a display of its competition cars.
As ever, the automobilia and motoring art sections were packed with the highest quality fare, while Artcurial put on a strong auction of solid classics, though without the star cars that Bonhams – just down the road at the Grand Palais, benefited from.