by John McCulloch
These are a few of the highlights at the 2015 edition of Rétromobile. For the first time at the fortieth anniversary of Rétromobile, the Citroën Héritage presented two very different faces. The white part of the village (at one end of the rectangular space) was made up of car clubs representing different models along side a new Cactus and the black part (at the opposite end) representing the new DS brand featuring a purple DS3. It was, in my view, a rather artificial distinction since the cars both old and new are all Citroëns. This mixing of Citroën Héritage with the marketing arm of PSA is a delicate one. Drivers and thus potential buyers of the DS3 would not likely be attracted to look at the new cars because they were attracted to the old ones. Furthermore what made the 2CV, Traction and DS stand out were the technological advances that each of the models made. The DS 3 and the Cactus on the other hand, are a question of style or design not technical innovation.
Perhaps the best feature of the club stands is that each one organizes a “pot” (as in Edgar Allen..) parties held after 7:00 pm on the Friday of Rétromobile. Each group organizes its own snacks and wine to greet their supporters. There are two very different kinds of Pots. At one, guests are met with champagne, and catered goodies such as small canapés which must have taken hours to carefully concoct. At the other kind, all the goodies are homemade: someone’s wife’s special pâté en croûte, or a galette that is the specialité of the home town of the president of the club. The wine, champagne and digestifs are often from local, unknown producers but nonetheless of excellent quality because each club member wishes to put forth the best possible produce from his home region. Whichever one appeals to you most, I can assure you that you will enjoy the company, the food and the conversation.
One of the most publicized events of the 2015 Rétromobile was the Artcurial auction of Classic Automobiles. The Roger Baillon collection of rare cars, which had been seen in catalogues, on paper and online, was on display in a dedicated Artcurial auction room, rather than in the typical auction display area of Retromobile. The cars present were typical of what is normally auctioned at this event, but because they were shown in their “barn find” condition, dust, decay and all, they required extra space and special handling. In looking at the results of the sale huge prices were paid for the cars most of which were in need of full restoration.
As an aside, I was looking at another collection of rare automobiles for sale when I spotted to very recognizable gentlemen – recognizable to fans of the American version of Antiques Roadshow. It seems that Leslie and Leigh Keno are not only expert in 18th century American furniture but also in rare cars. Leigh is in fact a Judge at the Concours d’élégance at Pebble Beach.
During the show I had the pleasure of running into notable CITROËNVIE members: Philippe Devingt, Bernard Laborde and Ronny Keinhuis. A small world indeed.
More photos of Rétromobile courtesy of Greg Long:
And, here is a great little video (in French) from February’s Rétromobile car show: