Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Special to TheVintagent.com by Francois-Marie Dumas:
A nice display!  A 'Roman Holiday' poster with the early Vespa 98, ca 1946.  As timeless as the film...


For its 40th birthday this year, Rétromobile, which has presented some fantastic exhibitions in the past, seems to have forgotten about motorcycles completely, with only a few examples hidden between the cars.  As late as 2011, terrific motorcycle displays dotted this enormous show, and made the trip worthwhile for hardcore vintage riders.  There are still a few bikes on display in the stalls, and plenty of moto-mobilia (posters, parts, etc), but don't come expecting much of a two-wheel show. The cars are, of course, fantastic.
A well-lubricated display...
While I love Velocette MACs and Kawasaki H1s, I'm sure the organizers at Retromobile can do better than this?  What happened the curated displays by Bernard Salvat?
Lovely old Velocette Model H3 from 1925 on display - original paint, nice!
Posters for every moto-fixation.  I'm sure you've forgotten this motorcycle film...translated as 'Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man'...
If you're looking for posters, it's hard to beat the selection from vendors at Retromobile.  This 1922 poster celebrates Leon Vanderstuyft's 125km/hr speed while drafting an old-fashioned motorcycle pacer, likely an Anzani.  The current paced bicycle record is 167mph!  By Fred Rompelberg in 1995...
The grand old days, when the Grand Palais was used for the Paris Motorcycle Show, here in the 1930s
Bonhams Grand Palais sale:
The Bimota HB1, their first Honda collab, a super-hot cafe racer with with full road gear hidden away.  Love those lines!
The contrast with Retromobile could not be more stark; the motorcycle has returned to its origins at the Grand Palais! Among the first-ever exhibits at this magnificent Art Nouveau masterpiece was a car and motorcycle show back in 1901.  There were actually two shows that first year, and the second one gathered 556 cars, 21 three-wheelers and 81 motorcycles, with 190,000 visitors passing under those glazed arches.
The 750cc Benelli Sei pre-production machine  under the arching glass roof
The big Paris Auto Show was held at the Grand Palais from 1901 until 1961, and until 1950 for the Motorcycle Show, followed by decades of little use for the building, as the car shows moved to the outskirts of town, into large purpose-built exhibition halls. Which are pretty uninspiring architecturally.  Thanks to Bonhams, both cars and bikes are back at the Grand Palais for the past three years, under that astounding glass roof once again, for the annual Bonhams auction of exceptional cars, motorcycles and ephemera. 
Bonhams' head of motorcycling, Ben Walker, with the assembled machinery in the Grand Palais
This year 48 motorcycles were presented, the oldest being a French Griffon 2hp from 1907, but the most interesting machines included the seriously exclusive 1974 Bimota 750 HB1 (serial #3), and the almost unique prototype of the Benelli 750 Sei, which was exhibited at the famous “Art of the motorcycle” exhibition at Bilbao Guggenheim museum.
The super-cool Nor-Vel with dustbin fairing sold for a mere $10,470, including fees.
Mark Upham, CEO of Brough Superior, inspects the new 'Black Alpine' Brough Superior SS101, on display in the Grand Palais...which will hopefully appear on the streets in late Spring.  I've been promised a ride, anyway...

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1 comment:

Patrick Delli said...

Dear or dear.. A new Brough with yet another SolidWorks or whatever designed engine...

Has nobody got any sense of individuality/originality anymore?

Bring back some of the Le Vack/Marchand/Bradshaw imagination and spirit...