Retromobile Paris 2015

Retromobile, Peugeot Grill, by Larry Carlson

Retromobile Paris, now in its fortieth year, has become one of the world’s major indoor car events. It features cars new, old, and experimental, a staggering amount of automobilia and, de rigueur nowadays, an auction. Easily reached (with a metro stop right in the complex) it has now captured the largest building in the convention center, over half a million square feet, large enough to have held three of the Bugatti Royales this year. It goes on for five days in early-mid February, Bonhams and RM also hold auctions nearby during the week, and, it’s Paris!

Cars and crowds at Retromobile Paris 2015, by Larry Carlson

The major attraction this year was the shameful but much-ballyhooed Baillon Collection. Because light will deteriorate them, many art objects must be shown in darkened rooms. The separate building needed for this 59-car group was similarly dark, but perhaps, it was suggested, more to protect the sellers and the auctioneers. Prospective bidders needed not a flashlight but a light bar to get any idea of what was there, or at least used to be. Despite this and the unnecessary proof once again that, yes, metal just keeps on rusting, two or three times the expected amount was paid, 25.14 Million Euros or $28.5M, of which the Delon Ferrari took 16.3M Euros or $18.5M. Magic: rust into gold!

Baillon Collection at Retromobile Paris 2015, by Larry Carlson Baillon Collection at Retromobile Paris 2015, by Larry Carlson

Now all those who have exclaimed that they can’t wait to see these fine cars restored can begin awaiting medical advances on life expectancy. One imagines, with almost all of these, that sanding a fender to the point of being able to refinish, eventually one will be sanding rubber (the tire underneath). Spending hundreds of thousands, in a few cases over a million, for a set of patterns from which bodies, frames, and running gear can be newly-fabricated — must be newly fabricated, in most cases, to have a drivable car — just because the original plate and numbers can be screwed and stamped onto the firewall, frame and block ... ?

Cars at Retromobile Paris 2015, by Larry Carlson

But we digress and obviously many will disagree. Retromobile is a dynamite show and Paris in February is still better than most places in peak season. As at Pebble Beach, and other major car events, many languages are heard and enjoyable impromptu conversations occur with many fine folks. Plan to go!

Car at Retromobile Paris 2015, by Larry Carlson

Keith Carlson is a long time MMR reader and friend. He is also a passionate vintage car guy, movie buff, and reader to whom the well turned phrase is as exciting as the well turned ankle. By today’s standards, a gentleman.