Back on Retromobile 2024 – part 1

February 2024, Paris, France

Rétromobile 2024 was a great popular success with more than 130,000 visitors welcomed by 550 exhibitors, approaching the pre-Covid attendance record. Once again, manufacturers, dealers, prop makers, publishers, artists, museums, clubs and associations offered visitors an exceptional line-up, covering almost the entire history of the automobile. Before going back in more details and pictures on this edition, I have noted some impressions and trends, which are necessarily subjective opinions. More and more car manufacturers are exhibiting, with the aim of capitalising on their heritage to promote their current models or services. Some might regret seeing today’s cars here, but if manufacturers play the game by exhibiting mainly old cars, it is also a way to perpetuate the show. Renault had released a few nuggets from its collection, Škoda presented several Superbs from the 1930s, or MG which was in the spotlight for its 100th anniversary through its iconic models and several record-breaking machines.

We are also finding more and more racing cars (available for sale), Formula 1 or sport-prototypes that have raced on the major racetracks or rally cars. In just a few dozen meters, you can observe the considerable evolution of these cars, from the 1950s to the 2000s, not to mention the 1930s and before. There is also a growing presence of supercars, hypercars and other hyper sports cars (we are running out of words to classify ever more powerful and extreme cars), Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, Mercedes, Porsche and even rarer, a unique opportunity for the enthusiast to get close to these cars.

Rétromobile is also a great market, to be seen by all the visitors who shop for spare parts, accessories, books, magazines, scale models, but also for “real” cars, whether through auctions or by noting the number of labels “sold” on the stands of the major dealers of classic and exceptional cars. And so much the better, since it’s the opportunity to admire these jewels between 2 owners! As a final impression, Ferraris are in very large numbers on all the merchant stands (except those that specialize in other niches), allowing you to discover almost all the models produced by the Maranello firm, touring and racing.

And now, we can’t wait to discover the 2025 program of the show which will take place from February 5 to 9.

As every year, Rétromobile is an opportunity for auctions house, either on site such as Artcurial, or during the period of the show, or for other houses to present their upcoming sales. Artcurial was present in force on its territory, with more than 130 cars for sale on 1 very large stand. From 1897 to 2022, we revisit automotive history with the most iconic makes and models, from the Citroën 2 CV (popular but no longer so affordable) to Aston Martin, Bugatti, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce.

Let’s mention a few brands, in alphabetical order so as not to have to classify them, Alfa Romeo 33 TT12 from 1975 having raced in the World Sport Championship, BMW 327 convertibles (1938 and 1939) and M1 Procar (1980), several Bugattis including a Type 57 Galibier (1934) and a Type 57 Stelvio (1936), Citroën DS 21 ie convertible (rare because only 15 units were produced with the electronic injection engine), DS3 WRC (2009), a development model for a future World Rally Champion, Delahaye 135 M, Ferrari 250 GT, including the 250 California Spyder LWB, star of the catalogue (but which did not find a buyer, notice to wealthy enthusiasts) or a 275 GTB Berlinetta, ISO Rivolta (a Grifo series 2), Jaguar including an XK 150, Lamborghini with a 400GT bodied as a spyder (2 examples only) and a Sian (special series based on Aventador but hybrid, 63 units), Maserati with a unique model bodied by Touring in 2018 based on Gran Turismo, McLaren Senna, Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and roadster, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Talbot Lago T14 America from 1955…

While Osenat held its Rétromobile sale in its Parisian auction room, the cars were exhibited at the show. Nine French cars, Delahaye 235 and 135 in different body styles, Talbot-Lago T150 and T23 represented prestigious brands that have now disappeared. 2 original Alfa Romeo from 1959 and 1963 announced an upcoming sale around the Milanese brand. At Aguttes, there were 3 Pegasos, a rare opportunity since less than a hundred cars were built in the early 1950s by the Spanish brand. One of them was rebodied as a “Le Mans” spyder, reminiscent of Pegaso’s attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Also worth mentioning is a Porsche 910 with a nice track record, and a 1949 Delahaye 175 S Roadster. These cars will be part of the Spring Aguttes sale on March 10, 2024 in Paris.

Bonhams also presented upcoming operations, with a 1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type Sport-Tourer, a Jaguar D-Type “Continuation”, an identical reproduction by Jaguar Classic of the 1955 D-Type (25 units), and a one-of-a-kind car based on the Ferrari F12, a spectacular Touring Superleggera Aero3 presented in 2015, including a sharktail rear wing like on current F1 and endurance prototypes. RM Sotheby’s held its Rétromobile sale on January 31 at the Carrousel du Louvre. Its stand announced upcoming sales, including a magnificent 1954 Ferrari F1 car, a Ferrari 400 Superamerica convertible, and a 2004 Maserati MC12 supercar.

Much older, a Mercedes Simplex 60HP bodied “King of the Belgians” from 1903 was advertised at more than $10M at Gooding!

Every year, the major international dealers of exceptional cars meet at Rétromobile, and above all give an appointment to their customers! Germans, British, Belgians, Dutch, Swiss and of course French offer stands that rival each other in terms of size, quality of presentation and of course the level of the cars on offer. 2 Ferrari GTOs, 250s and 275s in number, Mercedes 300SL, Jaguar E-Type, Ford GT40, Formula 1 cars and endurance sports prototypes, old cars restored or in their original condition, recreations, there was something for all tastes and styles, if not for all budgets! With nearly fifty dealers, it’s difficult to give an exhaustive account, so I’ll “content” myself with picking at some of the rarest, original, spectacular ones…

At Aaldering, in addition to a Ferrari Testarossa and Lamborghini Countach duo reminiscent of the competition between the 2 rivals, a Ferrari 250GT SWB and a 278GTB, a Bizzarini 5300 GT (a real one) represented the 1960s, alongside a much more recent (2007) Bugatti Veyron 16.4. Another rivalry for Axel Schuette is a BMW 507 Roadster (1958) and a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster (1961), both as beautiful and desirable as each other, unless you prefer a more vintage Bentley 4.5L “Le Mans” from 1929, an original model built by Bentley for the road but with the specifications of the cars that raced and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

At Fiskens, the star of the show was certainly the “Ecurie Ecosse” package, transporter truck and 3 Jaguars. This famous team raced Jaguar in the 1950s and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The truck offered a small living area, and could carry 3 cars, 2 of which were on the roof. It is shown on the stand with a 1952 C-Type, a 1956 D-Type on the roof and a 1951 XK120 LT2 Light Weight inside! Still in the 24 Hours of Le Mans theme, we admired a Porsche 911 GT1 EVO (1997) and a Peugeot 908 HDI (2011), next to a 1969 Brabham Cosworth Formula 1 car, driven in its time by Jack Brabham and Jacky Ickx. On display but not (yet) for sale, an extremely rare Aston Martin Valkyrie, the last Aston Martin Hypercar designed in cooperation with the Red Bull F1 team, revealed its curves.

At Girardi, the stand is dedicated to the Prancing Horse, featuring a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO. It is surrounded by some gems from the racetrack, such as a 375MM (1953), a 512M (1970), a 333SP (1994) or a 550 Maranello “Prodrive” (2002), or more refined road cars such as the 275GTB coupé or the spyder 365GTB/4 Daytona.

Joe Macari is a Ferrari specialist based near London, and therefore logically also offers a few Ferraris, 250GT SWB (1961), 250GT Lusso (1963) or a splendid blue Daytona Spyder. We stay in Italy with a black Lamborghini Miura S, or a Maserati MC12 GT1. To take on the tracks, let’s mention a 1959 Lister Jaguar, a 1971 Porsche 917K or a 1995 McLaren F1 GTR. But the top of the stand is the pair of Formula 1 cars offered for sale, a 1997 Ferrari 310B (Schumacher) and a 2006 McLaren Mercedes MP4/21. You can immediately see the huge progress made in aerodynamics in less than 10 years. There’s also a significant gap between the Ferrari’s simple steering wheel and the McLaren’s electronics-filled one.

A 2nd Ferrari 250 GTO was on display at Kidston. Remembering that the 250 GTO is estimated at more than 50 million Euros gives an idea of the value of the line-up gathered on Rétromobile! Kidston also exhibited 2 Ferrari 275 GTB (coupe and spyder), as well as a Ferrari Daytona Spyder. When you consider that there were about 120 Daytona Spyders produced, we can consider that this model was well represented! The 1955 Aston Martin DB3S raced in endurance events in the 1950s with some success. The 1992 Schuppan-Porsche 962 CR was built in 7 units by former driver Vern Shuppan based on the Porsche 962 in memory of his victories on Porsches at Le Mans and in Japan.

Lukas Huni exhibited one of the most mythical cars in car production, all periods combined, an extremely rare Bugatti 57 Atlantic (recognizable by its “crest” riveted to the top of the car), only 4 models produced, 1 of which has mysteriously disappeared. The history of the model on display is a bit chaotic, but it is still a masterpiece of automotive design. The 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 is also an exceptional car, as it is the winner of the 1932 24 Hours of Le Mans! The Aston Martin DB3S also has a good track record, including a 2nd in the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans with Stirling Moss and Peter Collins. Other motorsport icons linked to this event are also on display, a Ford GT40 and a Ferrari 375 MM Spider identical to the model that won the 1954 24 Hours. Another icon with the Maserati 250F, Formula 1 of the years 1955-1960.

We had to go to the end of Hall 1 to find 2 smaller stands, less luxurious in appearance, but which reflected one of the trends of this Rétromobile 2024. Messina Classics and Car Collector exhibited a selection of the rarest recent or current super/hyper cars. A trio of Porsches at Messina presented the Stuttgart supercar saga, with a 959 (1986), a Carrera GT (2005) and finally the 918 Spyder (2015). The 959 has the particularity of having been the test car of the 959, and therefore of having been driven in the 4 corners of the world, and therefore also of having been used by Dr. Ferdinand Piech himself. Even more recent, a 2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG Project ONE, so for the moment not available for sale (on these extremely rare series, manufacturers prohibit resale for a certain time to try to stem the tide of speculation). And in the middle of this horde of German horses, a McLaren Senna!

On the Car Collector’s stand, we go up another level, with 2 Bugattis, an EB 110GT from 1994 from the time when Romano Artioli tried to revive the brand, and a Centodieci from 2022. This model, based on the Chiron platform, pays homage to both the EB 110 and the 110th anniversary of Bugatti (hence the name), and is the first in the series of 10 examples. The 2009 Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster is an even more limited series, 5 units hence the name. The Koenigsegg are produced individually in Sweden, and only 7 examples of the Agera were built, the one proposed being the prototype presented in Geneva in 2010 and then used by the manufacturer for tests.

As I said above, it’s hard to be exhaustive, so let’s quote pell-mell. There were quite a few Bugattis in the pits, Type 37 (Fine Automobiles, Ivan Dutton), Type 44 (Ivan Dutton), Type 51 (Arts and Cars), Type 57 (Vintage & Prestige, Volante). Vintage & Prestige also presented a recreation of the monumental 1932 Royale Esders coupe. We are also witnessing more and more the recreation of these extremely rare models, in the best case with original mechanical elements. JD Classics has made a specialty of these recreations, such as “True Spirit of XJ13”, a unique replica of the Jaguar XJ13 that was to compete in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, powered by a V12 designed for this car. In a similar spirit, the Bentley Continental La Sarthe pays homage to the Bentleys of the 1950s and the links between Bentley and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but with modern mechanics and equipment.

There were also Alfa Romeo 6C and 8C, famous in racing in the 1930s (AVC Prague, British Sport Cars, Fine Automobiles, Lukas Huni). In addition to the models already mentioned, the glories of the 1950s and 1960s, Aston Martin DB4, DB5 or DB6, Jaguar XK 120 and XK 150, E-Type coupes and convertibles, Ferrari 250 and 275, Mercedes 190 and 300SL made you salivate!

The photos on this page belong to Automobile Museums, no right of reproduction without the express permission of the museum.