Every year the Retromobile classic show, held at the Parc des expositions de la Porte de Versailles in Paris, hosts an eclectic collection of the continent’s rarest and most important automobiles, with a special focus on European marques. Set inside the high-ceilinged pavilions, Retromobile is one of the most visited classic expositions in Europe, one that combines the sights of a traditional concours with a trade show, as a number of restoration shops show off their skills.
Retromobile hosts not only automakers and prominent restoration experts, but car clubs, auction houses, art galleries, parts and automobilia vendors and specialty fabrication shops. In short, there really isn’t a U.S. equivalent of Retromobile that features this mix of classic cars and automobilia indoors. Arizona in January is certainly bigger, but it’s very different — Retromobile combines many elements all under three roofs in three exhibit halls in an urban setting, just off Paris’ ring road.
It takes a few days to see it all, which is why Retromobile runs for a full five days. Of course, you don’t have that much time, so we’ve put together these three galleries, above and below, that should give you a 10-minute appetizer-size taste of the show.
Among the milestones celebrated at Retromobile, this year was Renault’s 120th anniversary, which the automaker marked with a display of several notable models from its long history. The French marque’s collection at Retromobile included an original 1898 Type A model — the first Renault — as well as far more recent models like the 1974 Renault 5, which made it to the U.S. as the Le Car (let’s just say that the Renault 5 enjoyed a vastly different reception and legacy on its home continent than in the States).
“Renault’s collection includes more than 750 vehicles testifying to the inventiveness and know-how of the firm founded in 1898 in Boulogne-Billancourt,” the automaker says. “A living collection, it is preserved, maintained and operated by Renault Classic, which regularly showcases it at exhibitions, fairs, historic races, press and television reports and sporting events around the world.”
Renault also brought a 1947 4CV to Retromobile, a model that was the first Renault to exceed 1 million cars in sales, as well as the 1950 Colorale, which the automaker calls its first SUV. The most recent car on display that might be familiar to U.S. audiences was the Renault 9 from 1981, which was in production in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for a few years (with some changes) as the Renault Alliance. The very latest models on display included the 1984 Espace, one of the first mass-market minivans as we know them today, as well as the 1992 Twingo subcompact hatchback.
If you missed out on Retromobile this year, make plans for 2019. (But we’ll still have galleries for you next year if you miss it again).