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2023 Retromobile
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Back to normal
The 2020 edition of the annual Retromobile show in Paris was one of the last major events to go ahead before the world went into a Covid-19-induced lockdown. The 2021 edition was skipped altogether and a slimmed down Retromobile was held in 2022. With the pandemic now under control, it was finally back to normal for the world's most significant classic car fair in 2023. Almost all of the major exhibitors were back and so were the visitors from the around the world. As always, the Retromobile show had something on offer for all car enthusiasts including anything from rare books to model cars and multi-million Euro collector cars. In addition to the five-day event in the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition centre, there were also three major auctions; one that was part of the show and two that were staged elsewhere in Paris during the week.
A set fixture for us for two decades now, we travelled to Paris to capture all the highlights of the 2023 Retromobile in this 180-shot gallery.

Three major players in the auction market staged sales in Paris during the Retromobile week. First up was RM Sotheby's, who had found a new venue right next to the Louvre museum. The 98-lot auction was a resounding success with a 77% sell through rate and a gross result of €50 million. Topping the sale was the unique Bugatti Chiron Profilée that found its first private owner for just under €10 million, setting a record for a new car sold at auction.
All eyes were on Bonhams the next day. With the majestic Grand Palais receiving a complete restoration, a similar but temporary structure housed the sale. With the Eiffel Tower visible in the background, the British auctioneer saw €28.6 million worth of cars change hands. The highest bid was shared by a Ferrari F40 and an ex-Le Mans Talbot Lago that both sold for €2.2 million.
Rounding out the sales was local company Artcurial, who held the official Retromobile auction. Over €35 million worth of machinery crossed the block with the Ferrari 340 America from the Bart Rosman collection topping the bill at €5.7 million.
Gooding and RM Sotheby's also had displays on the show floor with lots that were consigned to upcoming auctions or available as private treaty sales.

Le Mans Centenary
One of the major themes at this year's Retromobile show was the upcoming Le Mans Centenary. First held in 1923, the twice-around-the-clock race is one of the great motorsports institution and organiser Automobile Club de l'Ouest has ensured that the 100th anniversary celebrations will not go by unnoticed. A special trophy was made for the upcoming race and it has been shown at many events and was also proudly displayed at Retromobile. Additionally there were special displays for French cars that raced at Le Mans and innovative Le Mans racers like the front-wheel-drive Tracta and the turbine-engined Howmet. The theme also carried over to displays of other exhibitors. Le Mans was a major theme on the stand of Fiskens, headlined by the very Porsche 917 K that starred in the legendary movie 'Le Mans'. Across the aisle, the Ascott Collection proudly displayed the 'art car' Morgan LMP2 that was designed specifically for and raced in the 90th anniversary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Dealers
One of the reasons that Retromobile has become a must-visit event is the rivalry between classic car dealers, most of whom go to great lengths to outdo their rivals. This year, the bright and well stocked displays of Fiskens, Girardo and Kidston no doubt grabbed the attention of many visitors, and rightly so. In addition to the 'Le Mans' Porsche 917, the Fiskens stand also included a great selection of interesting competition cars like an ex-Le Mans Shelby Cobra and the very first Porsche 956. At Girardo, there was a Ferrari-only theme and somewhat inconspicuously tucked into a corner was the Le Mans class winning Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello. Rarely seen since, it was brought by the man behind the project, Frédéric Dor, to launch the highly anticipated book on the Prodrive 550s. Literally taking centre stage on the Kidston stand was a mighty Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta that won best of show at Pebble Beach and Villa d'Este a few years ago. Traditionally a little more understated is the display of Lukas Hüni but it rarely disappoints. This time round, there was no particular theme other than cars of a certain interest that included a freshly restored Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, the mighty Bucciali TAV8-32 and the Bentley 8-Litre Vandenplas Tourer that had originally been commissioned by Woolf Barnato.

Further highlights
Many other exhibitors also brought out cars that captured our imagination. None properly more so than high-end watch manufacturer and long-time motorsports backer Richard Mille. The Ferrari-themed display included some iconic Grand Prix cars including the very 500 F2 that was used for most of the all-conquering 1952 and 1953 seasons by Alberto Ascari. Also on display was the second Ferrari 250 GTO built and an ex-Ecurie Francorchamps 275 GTB/C that are today part of the same collection.
There were also displays curated by major manufacturers and Citroën showcased a 2CV-inspired cart that had featured in a recent Asterix movie. Porsche is also a regular at Retromobile and used the opportunity to showcase the new 911 Dakar and the hugely impressive 911 GT3 RS. Over at Renault, the fiftieth anniversary of the '5' was celebrated while there also was a spot dedicated to slightly more recent models that have been retro-fitted with electric motors. We also had the first opportunity to get a closer look at the Morgan Super 3, which should be as much fun as it looks.

Final thoughts
It was already great to be back at Retromobile and the many great displays quickly made us forget that we had not been to Paris for three years. We already have next year's dates (January 31 - February 4) marked down with pen in our schedule. If you are not convinced yet that you should do the same, our 180-shot gallery will make sure that you will be.

Related Articles
2023 RM Sotheby's Paris  
Date: 02 / 01
Total result: €50,342,080 (81%)
2023 Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde a Paris  
Date: 02 / 01 - 02 / 02
Total result: €28,575,425 (77%)
2023 Artcurial Retromobile  
Date: 02 / 03
Total result: €35,507,566 (72%)
Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello 230 Number of shots
Years of production: 2001 - 2004
Last updated: 12 / 14 / 2018

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