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2018 Retromobile
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Braving the weather
Traditionally organised going into the second weekend of February, the Retromobile show in Paris is a set fixture on the enthusiast's calendar. There was a surprise for seasoned visitors this year as Paris was draped in a fresh layer of snow on the opening day. Although it had ground most of the traffic to a halt, few enthusiasts were deterred as the crowd lined up en masse to get into the Parc des Expositions in the south of Paris. The 43rd edition of the ever highly anticipated show featured many of the regular fixtures like the impressive displays from the major European dealers and French manufacturers but also one-off showcases, one with Abarths and another with cars raced and/or designed by Jean-Pierre Wimille. In addition to the regular show, French auctioneer Artcurial hosted the official Retromobile sale, while both RM Sotheby's and Bonhams held sales elsewhere in Paris during the week.
We beat the snow to Paris and captured all of Retromobile's highlights in this 260-shot gallery, complemented by separate galleries for the RM Sotheby's, Bonhams and Artcurial auctions.

The auctions
In front of the famous Les Invalides palace, RM Sotheby's kicked off the four-day auction marathon. While some of the headlining lots struggled to find new owners, the sale was topped by a brand new Bugatti Chiron, which changed hands for a hefty Euro 3.3 million. Also doing very well at Euro 1.8 million was a two-owner BMW 507. Eventually 83% of the lots were sold for close to Euro 24 million.
On the other side of the river Seine, in the fabulous Grand Palais, Bonhams hosted their annual sale the following day. Close to 140 cars were offered and the top seller of the Euro 15 million sale was an ex-works Bugatti Type 57 racer. Bonhams also revealed two of the star lots of the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in the form of the famous '1 VEV' Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and an Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix car.
It turned out to be a Bugatti hat-trick in Paris this week as the official Retromobile sale, hosted by Artcurial was also topped by a model from the legendary French marque. In this case, it was a Type 57 C fitted with the factory Atalante body. Of the cars offered 81% sold for a total of just under Euro 30 million.

The manufacturers
The 2018 Retromobile show saw very different approaches from manufacturers to their respective histories. Renault stole the show with their celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Alpine Renault Le Mans win by lining up all four of the V6-engined machines that were entered in the 24 Hours that year. Additionally, the French manufacturer also celebrated the company's 120th anniversary with a whole host of important Renault cars lined up on a vast display. Porsche on the other tried to show how the design has evolved from the original 356 built 70 years ago to the latest Panamera Sport Turismo shooting brake. Around the corner, Citroën marked 70 years of the 2CV and also highlighted the tradition of French presidents using DS vehicles from Charles de Gaulle's lengthened DS 23 to Emanuel Macron's DS7. Land Rover Jaguar Heritage on the other hand, looked very much ahead, marketing the company's in-house restoration programs and more importantly also announced a run of 25 brand new D-Types due to be built. The rationale is that of the 100 originally planned to be produced during the 1950s only 75 were built, leaving room for an additional 25 examples. The D-Type revealed in Paris, in the presence of legendary test driver Norman Dewis, was the prototype and did not count towards the 25 destined for customers.

The dealers
For the major European dealers, the Retromobile show is the stage to showcase their wares. Rarely outdone and certainly not this year, was Swiss dealer Lukas Hüni, whose display this year featured now fewer than ten Ferrari 250 GT SWBs, including the unique Bertone-styled 'sharknose'. To put these in proper perspective, the SWBs were joined by an example of the 250 GT TdF they had replaced and a slightly later 275 GTB. Among the other cars also on display were an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and a Bugatti Type 59 that had just been re-restored to its period livery of green with a French Racing Blue tail.
London-based dealer Fiskens are also always out in force and this year did not disappoint with cars ranging from an early Mercer to one of just two privately owned Brabham BT49s. Also on offer were a beautifully prepared ex-Jean Behra Maserati 250F and a genuine Lightweight Jaguar E-Type with a unique low drag body. Across the isle Jaguar specialist JD Classics showed the XJ220 that had won its class at Le Mans in the early 1990s only to be disqualified for a technical infringement two weeks after the race.
Fellow British company Will I'Anson showcased an eclectic mix of British competition cars with a French cherry on the top in the form of the only surviving short-tail Alpine A220. Also on display was the very Lotus 16 in which Jim Clark made his debut with for the marque with which he would be forever associated. One of the most interesting cars brought by I'Anson, certainly from a historian's perspective, was the ex-Sidney Taylor Lola T70 Mk3B. It was shown for the first in over three decades with the original tub back in place.
Fans of Group C racing cars in particular and ground effect machinery in general were in for a treat with the Ascott Collection display. This included a very rare Toyota Group C car and also one of the very first ground effect sports cars; the Lola T600.
With so many cars on show in three separate halls, it is hard to pick a favourite but we have a soft spot for designs by Franco Scaglione, so we were particularly taken by the appearance of the only Alfa Romeo Sportiva in private hands. It was shown by French dealer Galerie des Damiers, who also wheeled out one of the fabulous Delage 15 S8s. Visitors were given a rare opportunity to compare the car with its Talbot arch-rival that was shown by Austrian Egon Zweimüller Jr.

Abarths and further highlights
One of several special features this year was a display that featured a selection of 20 cars from the 45-strong Engelbert M´┐Żll Abarth Collection. Not that there was an occasion needed to show these machines, the 'Saga Abarth' display celebrated what would have been the 110th birthday of company founder Carlo Abarth. Each of the 20 cars was meticulously presented and included rarities like the V8-engined 3000 Sport and a single seater record breaker. In addition to the cars, the feature also included several engines with the sole surviving Abarth V12 as the absolute highlight.
In the same hall Retromobile also paid tribute to Jean-Pierre Wimille, who was an all-round hero. He started as a racing driver, served his country in the French Resistance and also built ground-breaking cars bearing his own name. The display featured both cars that Wimille had raced and designed before he sadly fatally crashed at 1948 Buenos Aires Grand Prix.
French enthusiast and high-end watch manufacturer Richard Mille pulled out all the stops with his celebration of 55 years of McLaren. The vast display featured both cars from his private collection like the very first McLaren Grand Prix car but also machinery from McLaren's own stable like the 1995 Le Mans winning F1 GTR.

Final thoughts
Over the years, little has changed at Retromobile and that is a good thing. It remains the traditional kick off of the season and a great place to meet old friends and make new ones. As can be seen in our 260-shot gallery, the 43rd edition of Retromobile was another vintage one.

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2018 RM Sotheby's Paris  
Date: 02 / 07
Total result: €23,745,725 (83%)
2018 Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais  
Date: 02 / 08
Total result: €15,111,073 (76%)
2018 Artcurial Automobiles d'Exception a Retromobile  
Date: 02 / 09
Total result: €29,358,854 (81%)
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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com