Thursday, February 09, 2012


Stacks of gorgeousness; Bugatti Atlantique beside Hispano-Suiza mahogany boat-tail speedster at the Mullin Automotive Museum stand...
Retromobile's star has faded in the past two years for motorcyclists and vintage car enthusiasts, as the show's management has effectively nixed two-wheel participation in favor of more space for new car manufacturers.  The increases in per-square-metre cost (previously, a lower rate applied to bike booths) have begun to squeeze out the smaller autojumble traders who previously made up a healthy proportion of the floor space at the Parc des Expositions, while the show was shortened to 5 days from the previous luxury of 10.
Georg Meier's famous '49', the 1939 Isle of Man TT-Winning BMW Type 255 Kompressor, at the BMW stand
The show still boasts some amazing four-wheeled machinery, although there is now only a single motorcycle-related stand (Motos Antiquas H-D), plus a few scattered bikes at stalwart BMW (who can always be relied upon to share a few factory treasures), and Skoda, who showed a 1919 Slavia made same factory back in the day.  A few clubs and businesses also included a bike or two, and Artcurial Auctions had a much-improved selection of two-wheelers on all was not lost, although the Bernard Salvat-curated bike displays of past years are very much missed.
A 'Teen's watercolor of a car/motorcycle race, at the Artcurial auction
As always, the biggest benefit for visitors is meeting like-minded people from other countries, and it was great to see Alain de Cadanet, Malcolm Clube, Julian Balme (who laid out the Fisken stand, and covered Salon Privé for The Vintagent last September), Conrad Leach, the editors of The Automobile,, The Dandy, Café Racers (Fr), Octane, Retro Passion, etc, etc...  
On the Fiskens stand; a mighty Bentley open tourer, backed by Nick Clements' (of Men's File magazine) most recent photographs.
For a vintage motorcyclist, you'd need a healthy dose of car-appreciation to justify a trip to Paris for Retromobile, but the Bonhams sale and other moto-spots (see my accompanying posts) in the City of Light make a long weekend worthwhile.  And, always and always, the city itself is the premier attraction, whatever the can never get enough of Paris.
BMW brought 3 interesting machines; the ex-Meier RS255, an R100RS which took speed records at Bonneville, and a 1983 Paris-Dakar-winning GS enduro
To the faithful, #49 is a magical talisman
As rough, and as perfect, as a modernist painting
The Avignon Motor Festival booth, with a fantastic MGC N3A roadster.  The Avignon event was a huge success last year, with an exceptional display of Moto Guzzi racers and Matra cars...  What will it be this year?  Stay tuned!
An original wooden concept study model for the immortal Citroen DS21
At the Hall and Hall stand; More and More expensive kit!  This prewar V-16 Auto Union racer was the stuff of dreams

Explaining the fantastic 1923 Gérin aircraft-technology car on The Automobile / stand...
Many patents granted on the amazing Gérin.  The brake drums are the wheel rims... enormous.  Leading-link hydraulic suspension, and a one-off engine inside.  A very expensive demonstration of its 25-yr old designer's skill.
Photographers everywhere...getting your 'shot' is a bit difficult with the crowds...
The tail of a 1924 Delage V-12 racer, with an aluminum engine-turned body, shot over with clear blue lacquer.  Absolutely gorgeous.
Hispano-Suiza mahogany boat-tail roadster
French bowsers galore
Son, while its charming that you match this Ford GT40, please refrain from poking the tinware...
At the Artcurial auction lineup, an interesting BSA B34 scrambler
V-8 power in a monoposto F1 car of the 60s
A restored 1902 Clément on the Federation of Historic Vehicles (FFVE) stand...
"Alas poor Yoricke; I knew him...a man of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now?"   Artist Conrad Leach considers a memento mori, formerly found on the hood of a car...
French graphic art legend Denis Sire, true to his Celtic heritage in kilt and tam o' shanter...with Ray Bans and a Norton shirt!  If you don't know Denis' work, click here.  His drawing of a wildly endowed maid on a Velocette Thruxton has graced my office for over 20 years...
A Jaguar D-type short-nose...all tigerish in reflection
NCR-modified Ducati 900 'bevel' engine, track-ready, with a Maserati 3500GT, at Artcurial.  In 1989 I very nearly traded a Brough Superior 11-50 for a champagne green Maser like this...they still fetch equivalent value today...albeit much elevated from that benign moment.
A replica of the world's first electric car, from 1881, 6 years before the Daimler; the Ayrton and Perry, the first vehicle with electric lighting...
Ice-racing tire studs on a Renault A110 Alpine
No smoking Gitanes around the children...plenty of families visit Rétro.
GTO, Lister, Bentley, Clements
Lovely 1907 FN four-cylinder on the Motos Antiguas HD stand
Fabulous, enormous 1904 Griffon poster, by pioneer motoring poster artist Hugo d'Alesi, in the automobilia section.
Artcurial's greatest asset; Iris Hummel
Jacques and Ellewood Blues
The Automobile's editor, Jonathan Rishton
Where else will you find it?
The Laurin and Klement - powered 'Slavia' on the Skoda stand, which attracted plenty of attention.  Skoda began in 1895 and - like BSA, FN, Royal Enfield, etc - was originally an arms maker.  Laurin and Klement built their first motorcycle (the Slavia) in 1899, and their engines were sold to many other makers.  Skoda bought Laurin and Klement in 1924.
My favorite moto-painting ever; by 'Lassim' from 1932, a French poster artist, but this is a one-off.  Lassim was a like-minded fellow; he has peered into my head!
Louvres from a Delage 2LCV 12-cylinder GP car from 1924, on the Lukas Huni stand

MGC Model N3L with original paint on the tank...
Hubert Auriol and Gaston Rahier's 1983 Paris-Dakar BMW GS, the winner that year.  Hubert Auriol is the first person to have won this punishing event on two and four wheels...the Surtees of the desert!
Vintage pedal car, a mini Talbot Lago monoposto

The nail-polish pearlescent Rumi Formichino at Artcurial

Samantha minding the gate at the Fisken stand
Crazy structure of the 1923 Gérin prototype 'car' at The Automobile stand.  Built more like an aircraft with in-the-round aluminum spars (even underneath!) and steam-bent oak in their channels, on which the fabric body was tacked.  So many patents in one vehicle...there was a crowd all day.
A jumbled sea of fiberglass kit-cars
More details of the Laurin and Klement engine in the Slavia

Super-rare Wanderer eight-valve V-twin racer on the Motos Antiquas HD stand
A detail shot of the Wanderer engine.  Wanderer became part of Auto-Union in 1932.
Don't drop the TZ on the Countach please...


debbie said...

wow, some great shots!

Anonymous said...

Aleksandra: LoOve picture of Regenald, all so enthusiastic and charming :)

GuitarSlinger said...

Paul ;

Why is it good sir you insist on making me spend my money ( first Mens File , now on Denis Sire )

Hmmmph !

( just joshing )

Great photos and coverage . Too bad the show is slipping a bit though . Any thoughts why ? ( economy etc )

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul

It was nice to see you in Paris.

Thank you for your comments about our stand at RÉTROMOBILE and about AMF.

Stay tuned !!

Pierre Antoine FAURE
Développement & Communication

David Blasco said...

I am not worthy to look upon these machines! Thank you for showing them.

Anonymous said...

carreful when you wrote
"Hubert Auriol and Gaston Rahier's 1983 Paris-Dakar BMW GS, the winner that year. Hubert Auriol is the only person to have won this punishing event on two and four wheels...the Surtees of the desert!

Think about Stéphane PETERHANSEL...

Vince The Hell rider from MALAKOFF

VC Slim said...

Stéphane Peterhansel has also won Paris-Dakar on two and four wheels.

Very much enjoying your Paris coverage.

The Vintagent said...

Yes, should have put 'first' instead of only...which I've now done. Thanks for the correction - I love that there are hardcore Paris-Dakar fans who keep me straight!

SonicSeb said...

the R100RS was used in Nardo to beat some speed records :

let me know when you're in Paris next time :)