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2019 Retromobile
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Introduction
The annual Retromobile show in Paris is the most prestigious of all in-door classic car shows and each year draws a colourful mix of exhibitors and spectators to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. With space limited, the exhibitors are always forced to bring their very best. These exhibitors traditionally range from classic car dealers, manufacturers, enthusiast clubs and vendors of all sorts. Among the themes celebrated in 2019 were the centenaries of the likes of Bentley, CitroŽn and Lancia, while there was a special display of the rare French make Bedelia with 14 of the 19 surviving examples, and the show also featured the world's largest truck of its day; the 103 gross tonne Berliet T100. As always, local auctioneer Artcurial staged the official Retromobile sale. Elsewhere in the 'city of lights' RM Sotheby's and Bonhams also held auctions during the Retromobile week.
Having not missed a show since 2003, we were at Retromobile for a couple of days to capture all the highlights in this 210-shot gallery, which serves to illustrate a concise report.

Record breaking auctions
For French auctioneer Artcurial, Retromobile is the annual flagship sale and the lot list rarely disappoints. This year was certainly no exception as the sale was headed by one of just five Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Coupes. Offered from single ownership of over four decades, it sold for a record breaking Ä16.7 million. Exceeding all expectations was the Serenissima Spyder competition car that was sold directly by Count Volpi and found a new owner for Ä4.2 million.
A day earlier, Bonhams held their annual Les Grandes Marques du Monde sale in the fabulous Grand Palais. Topping this auction was the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A that was offered by the Jordan royal family and sold for close to Ä1.6 million.
Kicking off the action was RM Sotheby's, which had their most successful Paris sale to date. The headliner of this auction was the most successful Ferrari F40 LMs that changed hands for Ä4.8 million.

Manufacturers
Major manufacturers have been a set fixture at Retromobile. The most prominent this year was CitroŽn, who celebrated the company's 100th anniversary in great style. The French company's stand featured a fabulous selection of production, concept and competition cars. Across the aisle, Renault celebrated their pioneering work with turbos, showing turbocharged production and racing cars only. Bentley also marked their centenary by showcasing oldest surviving Bentley alongside the latest Continental GT Convertible. Aston Martin's restoration department showed a unique DB4 Convertible halfway through the restoration process. What made this example special is that it is the only one fitted by the factory with the 'hot' DB4 GT engine. A completed restoration was on display on the Lamborghini stand in the form of a Miura SV. The work was carried out by Lamborghini Polo Storico for none other than FIA President and former Ferrari CEO Jean Todt.

Lancia honoured and further highlights
One manufacturer that is still in alive but on the brink of extinction is Lancia. Showcasing what makes the Italian company so special was Swiss dealer Lukas HŁni, who filled his entire stand with great examples from the often ground-breaking manufacturer's great past. The most impressive was a line-up of new fewer than seven Stratos HFs; just about one in each colour available. The company's racing heritage was also celebrated elsewhere with a Group 5 Beta Montecarlo on the Tradex stand and an 037 Group B racer that was shown by Girardo. The latter also featured one of a startling three Mercedes-Benz CLK GTRs on display at Retromobile this year. The British company's biggest display to date also boasted a pair of Tipo 33 Alfa Romeos and across the aisle at Fiskens a third of these rare sports prototypes was shown.
We were also particularly taken by the pair of mid-engined BRM F1 cars put on prominent display by Will I'Anson. The earliest of the pair was a four-cylinder engined P48 that proudly wore its fresh magnesium body. Although just two years younger, the P578 shown alongside looked a generation apart. Fitted with a V8 engine, this car was raced in period by Richie Ginther.
One of the reasons Retromobile is so highly regarded is that it always brings out some rare and unusual machines. A great example was the Group 5 Ferrari 308 Carma FF displayed by Tradex. Designed by the great engineer turned racer Carlo Facetti, it features a unique body, bespoke four-valve heads and twin turbos. With close to 840bhp on tap, it proved to be the fastest car during the 1981 Daytona 24 Hours but after setting the fastest lap of the race was forced to retire with a pierced radiator.
Another great example of what makes Retromobile so special was the Prinetti-Stucchi Bugatti Type 1 on show by Fine Automobiles. This twin-engined three wheeler was built by Ettore Bugatti in 1899 when he was just 17 years old. Despite fitted with neither an accelerator or a clutch, it proved very fast and Bugatti drove it to four victories. Also displayed by Fine Automobiles was the trophy won by Bugatti a few years later at the Milanese inventor conference for the Type 2 he built from scratch a few years later.

Final thoughts
Now in its 44th year, the Retromobile show never fails to impress. Every edition, we are reminded why people travel from around the world to Paris in early February without exception. For some more reminders, do take the time to browse our 210-shot gallery.

Related Articles
 
2019 RM Sotheby's Paris  
Date: 02 / 06
Total result: €32,127,638 (77%)
 
 
2019 Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais  
Date: 02 / 07
Total result: €11,397,285 (67%)
 
 
2019 Artcurial Retromobile  
Date: 02 / 08
Total result: €39,203,552 (67%)
   
 

Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com