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2024 Retromobile
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Classic car capital of the world
During the first week of February, Paris is the classic car capital of the world. The occasion is the Retromobile show, which was held for the 48th time in 2024. The annual event bucks the trend and is one of very few major in-door motor shows that is still going strong. Attracting visitors from all over the world, the prestige of the show inspires all exhibitors to bring their very best. These exhibitors range from major manufacturers, enthusiast clubs, spare part specialists, model car vendors, book sellers and prominent classic car dealers. There were also special displays marking 100 years of MG and the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry and also one dedicated to the Dakar Rally. In the wake of the Retromobile Show, there are also three major auctions during the week with RM Sotheby's and Bonhams hosting their sale off site and Artcurial staging the official Retromobile sale.
As always, our photographers explored the Portes de Versailles exhibition centre in an attempt to capture all the highlights. The result is this 190-shot gallery.

The auctions around town
Anglo-Canadian auctioneer RM Sotheby's kicked off a three-day run of sales in the basement of the Louvre museum. The 76-strong lot list featured a remarkably large array of modern supercars and one of the two viewing rooms was filled with Porsches and Ferraris only. Topping the €38.8 million auction was a very yellow Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competitizione, which found a new owner for €10.2 million.
In lieu of the fabulous Grand Palais, which is currently being restored to its original splendour for the upcoming Summer Olympics, the Bonhams Grandes Marques du Monde a Paris sale was held the following day in the temporary Grand Palais Éphémère. With an 84% sell through rate, the British company had a reasonably good day. Just over €15 million worth of cars found a new custodian with the sale topped by a single owner Ferrari Enzo at €3.9 million.
Rounding out the three days of auctions was local company Artcurial, whose sale was held inside the Retromobile show. For most of the recent editions, two or three really special cars were consigned but this year's Retromobile Sale was a bit more run of the mill. The headlining Ferrari 250 GT California Spider failed to sell and instead a €1.4 million Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing lead the way. The 93 car lots that did sell brought the total for Artcurial to €16.3 million.

Anniversary celebrations
Although situated quite a distance away from the main hall, the centenary celebration of the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry was very interesting. The vast display featured a fascinating array of early French racing cars, most of which combined a small displacement engine with a slippery body. To underline just how recently the high-speed circuit was still in use, a McLaren F1 GTR was also included. Our attention was grabbed in particular by a tiny Salmson from 1927 that featured a 1.1-litre straight eight engine that boasted twin overhead camshafts and a pair of superchargers. In its ultimate specification, the tiny engine produced a mesmerising 170 bhp. The Salmson was displayed alongside the freshly restored S.E.F.A.C. Grand Prix car, which was raced in period from 1934 through to 1948. On the way to the Montlhéry display, we came across a line-up dedicated to the Dakar Rally. This featured famous cars like the Porsche 959, the Peugeot 405 Grand Raid and a recent Audi, but also an early Mitsubishi, a Lada Niva and the six-wheel drive Jules. Also 100 years old this year, is the British sports car company MG. Recently revived under Chinese ownership, MG has a rich history and the special showcase included an MG B sliced in half, the famous EX181 record breaker and the striking MG-Lola EX257 Le Mans racer.

The dealers
Over the last few years, competition between the various major classic car dealers has resulted in ever impressive displays. The likes of Fiskens, Girardo and Kidston all try to outdo each other with ever bigger displays and more impressive line-ups. This year certainly did not disappoint with Fiskens fittingly showcasing a filled Ecurie Ecosse transporter and also Gregor Fisken's personal Aston Martin Valkyrie. Across the road, Girardo continued last year's all-Ferrari theme with a display that was headlined by a 1964-style 250 GTO but also featured a great example of the achingly beautiful 206 S Dino and the mighty 512 M. One GTO clearly is not enough these days as Kidston showed another on his stand, which also included the only Aston Martin DB3S that was never raced in period and the truly insane Porsche 962C-inspired Schuppan 962CR. On the Lukas Hüni stand our eye was caught by a very original looking Ford GT40 that had not been seen in public for many decades. New to the show was London-based dealer Joe Macari, who had brought over the only road-legal Mercedes-Benz CLK-LM, a McLaren F1 GTR and the ex-Count Rossi and road-registered Porsche 917K. Local dealer, Ascott Collection proudly showed the freshly restored Dome S101 Le Mans racer. Blisteringly fast in period, this Judd V10 engined machine has many interesting design details, which makes the Dome competition cars so fascinating.

Further highlights
Watch manufacturer and Ferrari sponsor Richard Mille had also reserved the company's complete stand for some of the finest sports cars to be produced in Maranello. Placed side-by-side were the very 499P that won Le Mans last year and also the Prodrive-built 550 GTS Maranello, which won the GT1 class at Le Mans two decades earlier. Perhaps the most beautiful cars on display of all was the Ferrari 412 P also on display with Richard Mille. Having spent many years in North America, the Maranello Concessionaires liveried machine was the most expensive car sold at auction last year and has since joined a prominent French collection. Somewhat tucked away in a corner but also definitely a highlight was a tribute to Sebastien Loeb with a selection of his Citroën rally cars, which included machines he used early in his career like the Xsara T4 and Saxo Kit Car. British specialists JD Classics revealed their XJ13 continuation, which has been many years in the making and crucially features one of six twin-cam V12s built specifically for the mid-engined Jaguar back in 1966. Another impressive sight, by the sheer size of it alone, was the Centurion tank that was displayed towards the end of the main hall.

Final thoughts
Attracting over 130,000 spectators spread over five days, the 48th annual Retromobile has been billed as record edition by the organisers. All these visitors will certainly have left the Portes de Versailles exhibition centre satisfied thanks to both the quality and quantity of the machines and wares brought out by all the exhibitors. It was definitely another vintage year but it is somewhat worrying that the individual stands seem to increase in size with the absolute number of exhibitors decreasing. No doubt this is a minor detail and we can not wait how the organisation and the exhibitors will make the 2025 edition of Retromobile even better. For now, all we can do is refer to our 190-shot gallery with all the highlights from this year.

Related Articles
2024 RM Sotheby's Paris  
Date: 01 / 31
Total result: €38,718,900 (86%)
2024 Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde a Paris  
Date: 02 / 01
Total result: €15,435,625 (84%)
2024 Artcurial Retromobile  
Date: 02 / 02
Total result: €16,284,448 (71%)

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