On Sunday 9th February, the 45th edition of Retromobile closed its doors, having brought together 620 exhibitors and more than 1,100 vehicles, spread over 3 halls and 75,000 square meters of space.
This year, 122,000 people came to feast their eyes on automotive treasures from France and the rest of the world. They came to see all the original exhibitions carefully prepared by the show’s teams and exhibitors. They came to meet their favorite designers and drivers at special signings… or to unearth spare parts, books, posters and equipment… or even vintage clothing!
And of course, the Galerie des Artistes featuring 43 artists from around the world exhibiting a broad range of fine art and others works... Galerie des Artistes
An unexpected common theme for this year’s show was… electric! Although this form of power currently has center stage in taking up today’s mobility challenges, it is far from new, in fact, it was even preferred to the internal thermal combustion engine before the end of the 19th century! A number of manufacturers and exhibitors featured various electric hybrid models, telling a story that goes back to the very birth of the automobile.
Porsche showcased the very first hybrid vehicle at its stand – the «Semper Vivus», a vehicle that was unveiled at the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris. And placed it alongside the Porsche Taycan, which went into production in 2019.
Peugeot also presented a fully electric car – the VLV, only 377 of which were produced in 1941. Production ceased at the end of the war. A rare specimen! The Fédération Française des Véhicules d’Époque went all out and opted for a stand that was electric through and through, with four electric cars and one electric scooter. And retrofitting was showcased at the Méhari Club Cassis stand: visitors got to see a retrofitted 2 CV and find out exactly how it had been converted.
Bertone ©Pierre Perusseau
Perhaps the real stars of the show were around thirty or so farm tractors, exhibited by twelve manufacturers which currently make cars and heavy goods vehicles (Lamborghini, Porsche, Renault, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz and a number of others). Although these vehicles played a key role in people’s lives, they had been out of the spotlight for a long time, and this was the first time they had been showcased. One of them was Renault’s tracked Type HI, which got to celebrate its 100th birthday at this year’s show.
Czech brand Tatra, a small manufacturer with a great history, piqued visitors’ curiosity with the documented round-the-world trip made by two Czech students in the 1950s and a replica of their vehicle – the T87; there was also a Tatra 570, which greatly inspired Ferdinand Porsche in his design of the Beetle.
Also celebrated at this year’s show was Italian company Bertone, a major car styling and coach building company for just over a century which was finally declared bankrupt in 2014. Bertone’s contribution to automobile history involved designing legendary cars, such as the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, as well as the Alfa Romeo Coupe Bertone. In partnership with the Automotoclub Storico Italiano (ASI), the show featured ten extraordinary prototypes – including the 1969 Autobianchi Runabout, the 1976 Ferrari Rainbow and the 1988 Lamborghini Genesis. An outstanding exhibition made possible thanks to special permission granted by Italy’s Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities.
Manufacturers were also represented, with original events – just like Renault Classic, which held Rétromobile’s first participatory exhibition, with ten of the twelve models on show having been chosen by visitors to its website. Škoda celebrated its 125th birthday with the 1908 Laurin & Klement BSC, the only surviving model of the twelve originally built. FCA Heritage showcased Alfa Romeo, celebrating 110 years of the make. Four different versions of the Volkswagen Kombi were shown at the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles stand – and proved extremely popular among visitors.
The 45th edition of Rétromobile was also an opportunity for PSA to celebrate two jubilees: the Citroën GS’s and the legendary DS SM’s. Without forgetting Bugatti, of course, which apart from exhibiting the extremely famous Bugatti Veyron and a superb Type 35, unveiled “La Maison Pur Sang”, its certification program for its more recent models. Meanwhile, the Lamborghini Polo Storico showcased its unforgettable Miura, and Aston Martin Works exhibited a number of classic cars with pasts charged with emotion.
MOTUL, another major player in the automobile sector, provided visitors with two unique experiences at this year’s show: a pedal car race for children and an exhibition featuring a 1945 Renault AHS3 – nicknamed the “Vagabond”. The high-performance lubricant specialist also showcased cars from the silver screen, with a Ford GT40 that featured in Ford v Ferrari and “Herbie”, the most temperamental Beetle ever to hit the road.