For 3 days, the Eurexpo exhibition center in Lyon was transformed with the époqu’auto show into a real ephemeral museum, bringing together several hundred cars. On the one hand, there were several manufacturer or thematic platforms, with Cadillac, Peugeot and Talbot in the spotlight, nearly 180 car clubs also exhibiting cars, many local or national dealers, a few auction houses, not to mention museums and institutions. The show also welcomed many craftsmen and sellers of parts, accessories, books, magazines and scale models, as well as many artists offering works obviously around the automobile.
A few favorites are necessarily very subjective in all the wonders exhibited…
époqu'auto has the particularity of being organized by an association, and there are no less than 300 volunteers who work all year round to prepare the event, and of course to welcome the public during the show. For its 44th edition, époqu'auto was set up in 6 complete halls, plus the Eurexpo reception area, i.e. approximately 80,000m². Over the 3 days of the show, 95,000 visitors were recorded, an increase of 12%! The passion for cars is alive and well! The date is already set for the 45th edition, from November 8 to November 10, 2024. Some themes are already known, with a Hotchkiss retrospective, the 100th anniversary of MG and again a set dedicated to rally cars.
Peugeot was one of the manufacturers in the spotlight at this 2023 époqu’auto. The organisers and the Aventure Peugeot museum had brought together 50 striking models, divided into 3 sets. A first set near the entry dome exhibited 4 models, 2 concepts and 2 record cars. The e-LEGEND presented in 2018 wanted to express a desirable electric car with a body reminiscent of the 504 coupe, while the 505 convertible had been studied with a view to the American market. In 1932, Peugeot presented the 301, and to promote it developed the 301 Miramas on the same mechanical basis but intended to break an endurance record (24 hours at an average speed of 110 km/h). More recent (1965), the record-breaking 404 diesel is a convertible rebodied as a single-seater to break endurance records, in order to demonstrate the brand’s know-how on these engines.
The second stage was dedicated to competition and shows the variety of terrains where the brand has achieved its successes. In rallies, from the 404 that won multiple times in the 1960s in Africa and in particular on the East African Safari, then the 504 V6 coupé that succeeded it in the 1970s and 80s to the 205 and 206 WRC, via the 306 Maxi and the 104 ZS. There were also the 205 T16 and 405 T16 that won the Paris Dakar, and the more recent 3008 DKR Maxi that won in 2018 in South America.
Very spectacular, the 2 cars prepared for the Pikes Peak hill climb in the United States, the 405 T16 victorious in 1987 (Ari Vatanen) and 1988 (Robby Unser), and the 208 T16 driven to victory by Sébastien Loeb in 2013. Peugeot Sport, it is also Le Mans with the 905 Evo 2.2 from 1993 and the 908 HDI FAP from 2009.
In the heart of Hall 5, a 3rd platform exhibited 31 cars dating from 1891 to 1985, including many convertibles that were often the most desirable and rare models. The oldest was a Type 3 from 1891. A limousine from 1909 gives an idea of the luxury car of the time with its upholstered interior. Other curiosities include the Baby Lion from 1913 based on a concept by Ettore Bugatti and the electric VLV built during the war.
Then there were the pre-war 201, 202, 301, 401 and 402, in different body styles. Several convertibles, including a 401 Eclipse, the first production convertible with a retractable hardtop with power control, and a rare and splendid 402 Darl’Mat Special Sport roadster from 1937.
The post-war period began with an original 202 Commercial Limousine with a wooden body. Then there was the 203, with a Darl’Mat convertible built in only 3 units, this being the only one still known, a 203 convertible sedan, and the 403, 404, 204 and 504 convertibles. A few coupes like the 204 and 104 Z had slipped into this family reunion.
While Talbot had a rather chaotic existence with many owners, the brand enjoyed years of glory between the 1920s and 1950s. The manufacturer offered sporty and luxurious models, dressed by the best coachbuilders, especially after the purchase by Anthony Lago in 1934. These cars have kept an aura in the world of classic cars. Talbot also won many races, in Grand Prix and endurance racing such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Unsurprisingly, it was this rich period between 1923 and 1954 that was represented by about twenty cars. Suffice to say that on this set, we are mainly dealing with rare, even unique models. The oldest is a 1923 DC Sport, and the newest is a 1955 America, equipped with a BMW engine. Let’s also add to this selection a very beautiful T150 C special roadster (1937), and a T23 bodied by Chapron as a cabriolet, a unique model made at Talbot’s request.
However, the 2 stars of this stage are (personal opinion) the 26 C racing car, a Grand Prix single-seater winner of several races in the hands of Louis Rosier, and the sublime T150 C-SS of 1938 with Figoni & Falaschi “water drop” bodywork.
Cadillac was the 3rd brand in the spotlight at époqu’auto 2023, with 2 dedicated sets and more than 20 cars. The first stage, located under the reception dome, exhibits convertibles from the 1950s, a prosperous period for Cadillac, with oversized cars, fins evoking aviation and space, chrome and decorations, but also many technical innovations, Cadillac becoming the technological showcase of the General Motors group.
The interiors are commensurate with these exuberant bodies, in terms of comfort and equipment. A sedan with antagonistic rear doors completes this line-up, a rare (barely 300 units produced) Series 70 Fleetwood Eldorado Brougham that was intended to be the brand’s most luxurious and sophisticated execution. Apart from under the dome, near the stage, was on display an exceptional car, Johnny Halliday’s Cadillac Series 62, which he had customized in the United States.
The historic line-up featured about fifteen models ranging from 1910 with the 30 Touring, a Cadillac model presented in a body known as the “King of the Belgians” to a Seville Sedan (saloon) from 1982. We could admire some cars representative of the style of the 1920s/1930s with the V61 of 1923 equipped with the first Cadillac V8, developed for comfort and flexibility of driving more than pure performance, 3 models 1931 presenting the 3 engines offered by Cadillac with the 355 A and its V8, the 370 A equipped with the V12 and the pinnacle with the 452 A and its V16, the world’s first engine of its kind. A curiosity in the middle of these imposing cars, a Cadillac vacuum cleaner, the brand having also launched into household appliances!
The 1939 Series 61 as a convertible sedan has a flamboyant style with its large rounded, chrome-plated grille and the spare wheel on the side. The 1979 Eldorado coupe is a transformation of a Californian coachbuilder. It uses the same spare wheel layout, but here it is fake!
The last thematic section, the rally line-up, exhibits cars from the Stellantis group. It must be said that with the merger of the PSA (Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Talbot, Opel…) and Fiat (Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo…) groups, we have here a good part of the stars of rallying from the 1960s to the 2010s. A dozen cars allow you to see the evolution of rally cars, from the DS 21 Proto of 1969 or the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA (1967) to the Citroën Xsara, C4 and DS3 WRC lineage, via the mythical Lancia Fulvia HF (1972), Statos HF (1974) and Delta Intégrale (1991) or the Peugeot 205 T16 (1986) and 206 WRC (1999).
The selection is completed by 3 other champions of the group, the Fiat 131 Abarth, the Talbot Lotus and the Opel Ascona 400.
In addition to the cars already mentioned, several stands presented competition cars. ELF paid tribute to François Cevert for the anniversary of his death in 1973, with a photo exhibition, some pages of a comic book to be published in early 2024, but above all 3 cars he had driven, 2 F1 (March 701 from 1970 and Tyrrell 006 from 1973) and a Matra MS 650 from Le Mans.
Autodiva (magazine on the history of motor racing) presented an Abarth 3000 barquette loaned by the Savigny lès Beaune museum, as well as some Marcadier, a Lyon-based manufacturer of sports and racing cars.
Museums & Institutions
The 3A association, which organised the show, presented an authentic Lyon sports car with a 1923 La Buire that probably raced in the 1924 Lyon GP, completely restored. The FFVE (French Federation of Vintage Vehicles) exhibited 3 supercars, a Ferrari F40, a Venturi 400 GT, and between the 2 a Bugatti EB 110 making in a way the link between France and Italy. In addition to the Talbot Lago T26 C presented in the Talbot retrospective, the Henri
In addition to the Talbot Lago T26 C presented in the Talbot retrospective, the Henri Malartre Museum (located just north of Lyon) exhibited another sports car with the Rolland Pilain A22 Grand Prix winner of the 1923 Spanish GP. Quieter and older, the Peugeot Type 24 dates from 1899 and carries its passengers opposite.
The National Automobile Museum in Mulhouse exhibited the 1923 Bugatti Type 32 “Tank”, which has just undergone a complete restoration on the occasion of its centenary. This car is the only surviving example of this Bugatti model prepared for the 1923 ACF GP. If the Bugatti was the result of aerodynamic research for competition, the Panhard-Levassor Coach Dynavia of 1948 is also the result of aerodynamic research. The Dynavia reached 130 km/h and burnt only 3.5L/100km with its small engine of only 28 horsepower.
A large number of regional and manufacturers’ clubs were also present. Renault had come out in force, with models from its collection and the presence of several clubs. As with Rétromobile, the Twingo celebrated its 30th anniversary with a selection of 1st generation models. Also seen at Rétromobile and other events, the monstrous R5 Turbo 3E and the original “Mute the hot rod” are powered by electricity, you have to try to project fun and electric together… More roaring, Gordini, the Dauphine to the R12 and the Alpine A 110 and A 310 bring sport and racing perfume.
History is not forgotten, with a 1908 Type AX, a superb 1935 Vivasport and the dapper Floride and Caravelle of the 1960s.
A necessarily subjective choice, some original cars on the pits, such as this DS 19 “Dandy” Chapron coupe, a very beautiful 1938 Georges Irat roadster, a CG (Simca engine), a Jaguar XJS Eventer hunting estate, and of course several barquettes and Marcadier coupe, regional of the stage.
Also worth mentioning Aston Martin, as the local dealer and the owners’ club had gathered around the new DB 12 some historical gems: DB 2, DB 5, DB 6 or DB S.
Several classic and sports car specialists had a stand, including some Porsche specialists from the region, exhibiting Boxsters and 911s of all generations.
There was something for every taste, if not for every budget! Italian with Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini but also Lancia Flaminia Zagato, English with Aston Martin DB 2, DB 4, Jaguar XK 120, XK 140 or E-Type or Austin Healey, German with BMW coupés 2000 and 3000 from the 1960s or a rare Z1 roadster, Mercedes SL 190 and a large choice of SL “Pagoda” generation in various displacements, American Cobra and Mustang.
Among the curiosities, there were several specialists in the refurbishment of Fiat 500s (the real one, the yoghurt pot), which are refurbished, even more than new in dapper and flashy colors, well equipped… and for the price of a modern city car!
Several auction houses active in the automotive world were present at époqu’auto 2023. Artcurial announced its major Rétromobile 2024 sale with a replica of the Bugatti 35 from the 1925 Grand Prix de Lyon, which has the particularity of integrating many original parts. Bonhams also announced its February 2024 session (at the time of Rétromobile) with a 1951 Maserati A6 1500/3c Gran Turismo Coupé, matching numbers.
Aguttes announced its auction at the end of November with the 1939 Delage D6 3 Litre Le Mans, a jewel with a serious track record, notably finishing 2nd in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. This Delage then ran until the mid-1950s, then benefited from a solid restoration worthy of this sacred monster. Less well-known, the BALSA Speciale is also a racing car built by an artisan driver who also roamed the circuits in the 1950s. We know that barn exits attract collectors, and Aguttes was exhibiting a 1968 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2, with only 38,000 km on the odometer. The other barn out is a 1961 Jaguar E-Type 3.8L convertible “Flat Floor”, which is re-emerging after 54 years in a collection. 2 matching numbers auto, with a known history, which is not often the case for a barn exit.
But it was naturally the Osenat house that presented the largest selection as the sale took place on Sunday at the show where the lots were obviously exhibited (a sale of motorcycles and automobilia was also offered on Saturday). Nearly 80 cars of all ages and categories were on sale. Renault Type D 1901, BROUHOT D1 1904, Darracq Torpédo 1910, Clément Bayard 1912 or Turcat Méry 1920 were pioneers of the road, several classic English roadsters Austin Healey, Jaguar, MG, Morgan and Triumph or more rare Jensen Healey, beautiful Italian Alfa or Lancia….
Let’s add some rally beasts Alpine A 110 1600 Gr3 (the highest bid of the day at €180,000) or MG Metro 6R4, a few local Marcadier, popular Citroën 2 CV, Renault 4CV, Simca 1000, youngtimers 205 or Golf GTI or more prestigious Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes, Porsche or Rolls-Royce presented an eclectic panorama of car production. One of the brands honored this year placed a beautiful Talbot Lago America on the sales podium.
While this article focuses on cars, there were also many other things to admire on this époqu’auto edition, motorcycles and moppets, artwork, utility vehicles and something to equip yourself or bargain hunt, whether you are an amateur, collector or simply curious.
The photos on this page belong to Automobile Museums, no right of reproduction without the express permission of the platform.