OCT 03rd 2014

Paris uncut: You've seen the show stars, now it's time to look at the rest of the Paris Motor Show...

I’m sitting on the Vauxhall stand (ignoring the Opel badges, obviously) chatting to a PR person about the new Adam S junior hot hatch when it turns out I’m in Claudia’s seat and I’m politely asked to move along. That’s Claudia Schiffer of course, the ‘face’ (and body…) of Opel in Germany. We only scoot far enough away to be out of arm’s reach of the minders before the woman of the moment sashays onto the stand (supermodels don’t just walk, do they?), beams that famous smile for the cameras and then ruins it all by saying something cheesy and ‘on message’ to GM’s CEO.

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Welcome to the Paris Motor Show, where reality is forgotten about for nigh on 10 sweaty hours as the world’s motoring journalists do their best to break social media while breaking stories on the hottest new cars on the planet. And drool over anyone remotely celebrity-like of course. While there’s a nest of arms outstretched grasping smartphones to get a snap of Claudia I overhear another company’s PR rep mumble ‘her legs are like arms’. And you thought it was all about the Ferraris and Lamborghinis…

Speaking of which, the new Asterion concept on the Lamborghini stand could be responsible for a couple of professional models questioning their ability to draw the crowds, as they’re all but ignored standing next to the ‘old’ Aventador and Huracán. No doubt the story is rather different once the doors open to the public, but on press day we’re here to see the absolute latest metal, which is why a press conference about a new Hyundai i20, for instance, can grab the attention of the masses, leaving the Mazda MX-5 mercifully unattended for a few minutes. It looks fab too, small and lithe, though peering through the front wheels I wonder if the wrong brake discs have been fitted, as they look disproportionately small. Probably something to do with the lower weight of the car.

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Many of the ‘celebs’ are unknown outside the motoring world too, but we get excited about bumping into Luca di Montezemolo outside Hall 1 following his grilling about leaving the company on the stand (in which he basically said ‘I’ll be back when they realise they need me’). Nobody was really paying any attention as the spectacular 458 Speciale A did its thing on the turntable. Then Jean Todt is spotted across the road jumping into an Escalade and we spend a highly enjoyable ten minutes casually chatting to Ian Callum about ‘his’ Jaguar XE. He’s quick to point out that it’s an engineer’s car and urges us to get a drive ASAP. Roger that.

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After getting lost among the sprawling stands of the three French car makers (during which time I find a massive wooden elephant being towed by an Isuzu pick-up) I stumble into what feels like a dark – and somewhat seedy – Parisian night club. No, it’s not the end of the day yet; it is in fact the DS ‘stand’ and it’s quite a sight. There’s a DS 3 Racing finishing in gold and black, the tasty DS Divine concept car and a couple sitting at stools trimming steering wheels in hand-cut leather. Yes, really. They weren’t journalists either. You could tell by the fact that they had no interest in the whisperings of an appearance by Claudia over on the Opel stand…

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