Preview: Retromobile 2019, the classic car extravaganza
This year’s Retromobile in Paris (6-10th February) is shaping up as a bit of classic itself with some big birthdays to celebrate. Citroën alone is bringing 30 iconic models to fill its huge display to mark the start of its centenary celebrations.
Citroën - 100 years old
You won’t want to miss this. Citroën has a square kilometre of display space with 30 models to fill it, all arranged around three hubs: production cars, concepts and rally cars. The production cars range from the Type A 10HP, Traction Avant, 2CV, DS, Méhari and CX to the latest C5 Aircross SUV. Concept cars include some highly influential stars such as the GS Camargue, Karin, Activa 1, Xanae, Osmose, C-Métisse and GTbyCitroën. As for rally cars, you’ll be able to see machines including Scarabée d’Or, Rosalie, DS 21 from the 1969 Rally of Morocco, SM from the 1971 Rally of Morocco, 2CV Africa Raid, ZX Rally Raid and many more recent rally stars. It’s all a precursor to a big year of centenary events.
Bentley - 100 years old
Like Citroën, Bentley chalks up 100 years in 2019, W. O. Bentley making his first car, EXP1, in October 1919. That no longer exists but EXP2 does, and it will be taking pride of place in Paris for the Retromobile show, 100 years after first appearing on the Bentley stand at the Olympia Motor Show. The oldest surviving Bentley, and the first to win a race, will join the all-new Continental GT Convertible to showcase Bentley’s motoring evolution over the past 100 years. Bentley is promising a year of centenary events culminating on the 10th July, the day when the firm first came into being.
Aston Martin - giving it the Works
How best to show off the hand-crafted restoration expertise of Aston Martin Works? With a car, of course, and for Retromobile it’s a rather special one: a 1963 DB4 Convertible, the only one (of around 70 made) fitted with the DB4 GT engine (the owner was apparently a friend of David Brown). The car arrives in Paris from the AM Works HQ in the old buildings at Newport Pagnell as an engine-in chassis so visitors can see just what is involved is a full bare-metal restoration, Aston style. Other Astons in Paris this year are a Vantage V600 Le Mans, a 1968 DB6 Vantage, a 1960 DB4 Series II and a mid-2000s V12 Vanquish with manual conversion by Aston Martin Works.
Lamborghini - four years of Polo Storico
Lamborghini will be showcasing the work of its heritage department, formally set up in 2015, with a Miura S newly restored to SV spec, and a mid-restoration 1966 400 GT. Fans of charismatic if obscure Lamborghini concept cars should make their way to the concept car display on the stand of French car museum, Musée National de la Voiture de Compiègne. There you will find the Lamborghini Flying Star II, an angular Lambo shooting brake unveiled at the 1966 Turin motor show and the last car from Touring of Milan before it went bust.
Peugeot - electric cars and legends
Peugeot is rather older than its mere 100-year-old cousin, and is leaving the spotlight to Citroën at Retromobile this year. It still has seven fascinating cars to see, though, from the 1930 201 (the first Pug with a middle zero) Torpedo and a wartime electric microcar to the latest (and fab) E-Legend concept.
Jaguar Land Rover - saving the “family jewels”
Preserving the heritage is the theme here and JLR Classic will have no shortage of cars that show just how well it is doing that. From Jaguar, see a limited-series XJ220 and one of the equally limited D-Type Continuation models, along with the 200mph XE SV Project 8. No JLR Classic display is complete without a Range Rover Reborn project, and the one in the French capital, still undergoing restoration, is a Masai Red example from 1978.
Renault - the turbo years
Lovers of forced induction should head for the Renault display, where 11 classics from road and track show how turbo power has played such a big part in Renault’s fortunes, from the F1 cars of the late 1970s through to the R5 Turbo to the Alpine models.
Bugatti - racing improves the breed
Bugatti’s insistence on that credo will be summed up at Retromobile by a Type 55 roadster – a luxury street-legal version of the Type 51 grand prix racecar – on loan from the Mulhouse museum.
BMW - Procar series 40th anniversary
It was 1979 when the BMW M1 supercar was turned into the Group 4 M1 racecar, and grids around Europe filled up for the start of the Procar Series and some very tasty one-make racing. Helping the M1 celebrate will be seven other BMW Classic cars, from the 507 to the Z1, and one classic BMW motorcycle, an R51/3.
Abarth - 70 years old
The scorpion marque has achieved a lot in its 70 years. Not all of it has been in its own name, though, which makes the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Heritage display at Retromobile all the more compelling. From its own rally cars to aerodynamic, highly tuned specials for Alfa, Fiat and Lancia, Abarth’s role in making some very fast, often world-beating Italian cars is distinguished indeed. As well as Abarths, FCA Heritage will be displaying a restored 1981 Fiat Pininfarina Spider Europa.
Honda - 20 years of the S2000
Remember the S2000 sports car? If you have ever driven one you will remember it: a real firecracker whose four-pot VTEC engine came alive at 9,000rpm. Honda’s first sports car since the NSX enjoys a huge following today, making this one birthday party not to miss.