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Retromobile Paris. What a show! N° 2

Knowledge is everything

At Retromobile, classic car traders are certainly more than “just sellers”. Indeed, this event sees them entering into a sort of competition with each other, as they endeavor to develop a theme that perfectly represents their work and enables them to express the depth of their passion for classics as well as their knowledge. From this perspective, it is clear that showing a car on loan from a top collector can be real support to traders, representing a sort of guarantee. In short, this event is not just about offering groups of cars for sale; in fact, in some cases, only some specimens were actually for sale. Among the traders, Zurich-based Lucas Hüni had the hardest task, having to try and surpass the famous “14 Ferrari 250 SWB” that he himself brought to the show in 2018. He succeeded, through two separate stands: one an incredible display of Lancias, and the other a celebration of the one-off specials built on the Citroën DS chassis. The Lancias he showed included several examples of the Stratos “Stradale”, covering all the colors offered back in period, and the only surviving 1953 Lancia D23 Spyder, one of the only four built in total, which was on loan from the Lowman Museum. These exhibits were surrounded by a tribute to the Lancia Flaminia, which included a 2.8 Super Sport bodied by Zagato and a wonderfully restored sedan. The crowning glory was the (for sale) 1936 Lancia Astura Cabriolet Pinin Farina that took Best in Show at Pebble Beach in 2016. In what was a very sophisticated way to celebrate Citroën’s 100th anniversary, the tribute to the DS one-offs took the form of an almost endless display of Chapron-bodied cars, each one different from the others.

The magnificent Lancia Stratos exhibited by Lucas Hümi

Along similar lines, the well-known British-Swiss collector and trader Kidston, making his first appearance at Retromobile, brought along an incredible display of Lamborghini P400 Miuras, including the one-off Miura Roadster and the very first P400 chassis ever built, both on loan from a private collection. Up for sale on Kidston’s stand, designed by Goodwood set designer Peter Russell and dubbed “Miuralandia”, was a 1964 350 GT 2+1 (the sixth Lamborghini car built and the second oldest surviving one) and the 1968 Miura P400 (chassis #3303) that once belonged to the Shah of Persia. This use of exhibitions as a way of “promoting” sales is borrowed from the art world, and it may be taken as confirmation that, more and more, top-level classic car collecting is akin to art collecting. To further underline the difference between “normal” and “special” classic cars, the vehicles offered for sale with requests below EUR 25,000 were grouped in a dedicated space.

Great interest for Kidston’s rare Miura collection

The most beautiful display

There can be no doubt that the trophy for the most beautiful stand should go to Citroën, the French company this year celebrating its 100th anniversary. The display, divided into three sections devoted to different categories — concepts, the most significant production cars, and racing cars —, allowed visitors to take a “walk through history”. In each section there were several cars on display and they provided a great illustration of the evolution of this brand, for many decades considered the most advanced in technique and style. The production cars on show — these ranged from the Type A 10 HP (the first Citroën ever manufactured and also the first French car to be built in large numbers) to the 1989 XM — included the Traction Avant, the symbol of the firm’s pre-war production, the DS, which in the 1950s showed the world how a car should be built, and the H-van, for nearly three and a half decades (from 1947 to 1981) the French light transport vehicle par excellence. The display of racing cars featured an original 1922 B2 10 HP K1 Autochenille “Scarabée d’Or”, used to cross the Sahara Desert, a first for a motorized vehicle. Five specimens were built, equipped with tracks on their rear axles. Found to be ideal for travelling back and forth across the desert, from Touggourt (Algeria) to Tombouctou (today Mali) and back, they opened up a whole new commercial trade area. Linked to the company official stand was a further one loaned to the Citroën clubs.

But the strongest message of all came from the concept car sequence, a great reminder that this French brand, from its origins to today, has always been characterized by the desire to innovate.

Citroen stand: an authentic walk through the time: left the futuristic concepts; at the center the history of the production models; on the right the Citroen who competed in racing.

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