Auto Retro Barcelona – December 2011

Last year I attended the Auto Retro event in Barcelona, the largest classic car show in Spain, and enjoyed not just the event itself, but a weekend in that Catalan city, bathed in sunshine and an excellent antidote to the arctic winter which had already seized the UK. Indeed, the experience was sufficiently good that when I found a cheap flight, and a good value hotel I booked up to go in 2011. Although the format of the event was much as in 2010, with three halls of displays, and some outdoor parking augmented by a mobile test centre for the Spanish version of the MOT test, called Certio, the cars on show were refreshingly different. Vehicles which I saw in some quantity last year were more or less completely absent this time, but there was plenty of interest, and a couple of rarities that had me straight to Google when I left the event, to find out what I had seen. Here’s what diverted me for the better part of a day.


One of my favourites of the day was this, a 1963 Abarth-Simca 1300 GT.

There were several of the 850TC and 1000TC models, or rather in the case of most of them, recreations of this little car that did much to popularise the brand. With a plentiful supply of donor car 600s, it easy to see why there are so many of these cars at Spanish shows.

I also loved this 131 Abarth, even though it is looking rather lonely as the sole car on a large stand area.


I confess I had to look at the badge on this to find out what it was. It said AC


After providing the centre piece of the whole event last year, there was but a token presence from Alfa Romeo this year, with just a GTA car on the stand. Disappointing not to see more vehicles, but this was a good car.

I did come across this Alfa on another stand. It was not something I recognise, but would guess that it is 6C2500 based underneath the sporting body.

One of the prettiest cars of the 1950s was the Giulietta Sprint.


Several of the Big Healey were on show.


This A112 Abarth was rather nice. It was probably my favourite of the “affordable” cars on sale, being stickered at €7000. Lots of fun in something very distinctive.


3.5 litre


The M3 Owners Club had a variety of E30 based M3 cars on their stand.


1958 Bel Air. This body style was used for just one year, as Chevrolet had been wrong footed by the 1957 Chrysler Corp products and decided that they needed a rethink for 1959.


Lone Citroen on the Owners Club stand was this Ami 6.

There was a 2CV6 tucked among the auto-jumble stands.

One Traction Avant inside the halls was joined by a couple outside.

Outside I came across a few of the ID/DS cars.

Two immaculate smaller Citroens which were going for their Certio testing were this LNA and a Dyane.

Most unusual Citroen, by far, though, was this 2CV Sahara, the car that featured two engines, one in the back. It was for sale at an rather ambitious €48,000, I guess reflecting its rarity.


A 1938 Type 235 model with Chapron body.


Sole example was this van version, the F89L Schnellaster.


There were not that many Ferraris on show, but those that there were more than made up for things.

For a start, there was this very lovely 275 GTB


Alongside it was something even nicer.

And even more exclusive was this 250 GTO.

A 308 Dino GT4, a couple of Mondial Convertibles and a 360 Modena completed the Ferrari showing.


Very few Fords on display, but there was this 1969 Mustang Convertible.


This Model T Truck was in the livery of the local brewery, Moritz


There were quite a few of those aristocratic Spanish-built cars on show, of which I appear only to have photos of a couple.


Celebrating 50 years, was the Impala motor cycle, and there was a special display to reflect this fact.


The Italian version of the Mini, in Cooper 1300 format.


This has been very much the year of the “E” Type, in honour of its 50th anniversary, and there were lots of them at this show, too.

There were also a good number of XK120/140/150 cars, most of them in the “for sale” sections.

This Mark 2 was one of few Jaguar saloons on show.


A 400GT, one of the earliest types of Lamborghini


The Touring styled 3500GT, first Maserati road car to be sold in any sort of volume


A big stand for Mercedes-Benz Espana’s Owners Club, with a variety of cars on show, and one truck. There was even an SLS AMG Convertible, though it was a shame that it did not appear to have been washed.

Among the older Mercedes were these:

The 260D was the E Class of the 1930s.

This 300SC was rather nice.

With some care – and money – I am sure that this 300d Adenauer will also soon look nice again.

Also from the 1950s was this 220b Cabrio and an immaculately restored 220S “Ponton” saloon.

Successor to this was the “Fin Tail” range and there were a couple of these on display

There were plenty of the W113 “Pagoda” SL cars, mostly for sale, and they are just as costly in Spain as they have become in the UK.

This W111 280 SE 3.5 Cabrio was also for sale, and it was far from cheap. €65,000 was the asking price. A lot of money, but it is a very desirable car indee.

Several more recent Mercedes have now, I guess, become minor classics, too, and there were W126 and W140 based cars in evidence of that.


If 2011 has been the year of the E Type, then 2012 looks set to be the year of the MGB, and there were a number of both these and its antecedent, the MGA on show.


There was also a rare survivor of the once popular ADO16 car, in MG1100 guise


A large display area in the first hall was given over to Nissan and Datsun sports cars, with examples of various generations of the Z model, and the precursor the Datsun 2000 Roadster that was also christened Fairlady in its home market. You rarely see these in Europe, although they are quite common in the US where the model sold well as a direct competitor to the MGB.



Another rarity, this is a Fiat based OSI Convertible.


This very imposing Packard Eight would have been very costly when new in the 1930s. It was for sale at this event, though no price tag was in evidence.



One of the more surprising exhibits was this J72, a pastiche of the SS100 Jaguar that was made in small quantities in the 1970s using contemporary Jaguar mechanicals.


The 203, a French family saloon from the early 1950s.



A very different Eight from the Packard was this Pontiac, which shared little more than a name


There were plenty of 911s of all types on display.

There were also a good number of the preceding 356 cars.


An early AX model.

Rather more recent was this R5 GT Turbo, a car which competed against the 205 GTi when new, but which seems to have disappeared far more than the Peugeot rival

Other Renaults included a couple of locally made Fasa-Renaults, the R8 and the Alpine A110 and a late model R4


Not that often that you see a Camargue these days. There was also a late model Corniche Convertible.

As you might expect, Spain’s national marque was somewhat dominant at the show, with a centrepiece in one of the Halls where last year Alfa Romeo had celebrated their centenary. This time, it was a show of a number of the smallest cars in SEAT’s range including a showing of the brand new Mii. Although I had seen the Up! at the Frankfurt Show in September, this was the first time I had encountered the SEAT version, and it does look good. There really is not much space in he back, even with the seat set for my driving position, but the interior is well made. I predict this car will be a big sales success.

Other cars in SEAT’s display included a couple of 600s, a solitary example of the largely forgotten 133, a Panda 40 and the later Marbella model, as well as an example of the first and second series Arosa.

Across from the manufacturer’s stand was one representing SEAT from the 1950s and 1960s, with three cars on show: a 600 and two examples of the once very popular 1500 saloon.

Although that was more or less it for SEAT inside the display halls, outside there were far more to see, with a particular focus on the 600.


There were plenty of 124 and the slightly larger 1430 models, as well.

850 based models were represented by some Especial saloons and a couple of the pretty Spiders.

It was good to see some 127 based cars. SEAT made a 4 door version, and the navy mark 2 car was that. It was not a hatchback. There was also an example of the later Fura. These cars looked very roomy inside. Such a shame that most of the rest of the millions of Fiat versions that were built have all rusted away!


Never heard of it? Nor had I. SEDAN is an acronym for the Sociedad Espanol De Automoviles Nacional, and in 1964 they launched this car, the Mustang. It was intended to compete against the SEAT 1400, but powered (if that is the right word) by a 1760cc Perkins diesel engine developing just 43 bhp, it was slow and thirsty which meant that sales were weak. Very weak in fact, with just 20 cars made. This one, believed to be the only one left in Spain has covered just under 1200km from new and is generally in excellent condition. It is for sale, if anyone is interested in something very unusual.


I had no idea what this was, and there was nothing on the stand to inform. Badged Dodge and 3700GT, a little Googling has revealed that it is indeed Dodge based, and is a 1972 Serra 3700GT, based on the Dodge Boulevard. It was made in Spain. There is a complex history behind this marque, starting with the LMX car that I saw in Padova recently, which was Ford Taunus based. As sourcing the donor parts for that became troubled, Serra tried again with the Dodge 3700 based cars that they intended to build, using Dodge components. The Spanish authorities saw these cars as a new marque, though, and so Serra had to go through a lot of bureaucratic processes to get the venture off the ground, which introduced delays and upset the prospective customers, who were unable to register the cars they had bought. Three years after launching the model, the car reappeared at the 1973 Barcelona Show, and it is believed that about 40 of them were built before the venture was abandoned in 1974.


Based on the SEAT 600, this looks like an early MPV, with seating for 7.


This Aronde was Simca’s family car offering in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Hard to imagine now, but the 1100 was France’s best selling car for many years. Not only was it one of the first C-segment hatchbacks, pre-dating the Golf by 7 years, but when the Ti version was launched, it was also the first “hot hatch”. Rust has claimed almost all of them. This is a late model car.


There were a couple of the TR4 models, including this TR4A


This is a very rare prototype which preceded the Karmann produced Convertible Beetles.

Outside the halls were lots of older VWs, including not just Beetles but Karmann Ghias and the ever popular Type 2 minibuses and vans.


A large display in the courtyard in front of the exhibition halls had a number of rally-based cars to see, with great variety from the predictable 911s and the Abarth 850TC and 131 to locally produced cars such as the SEAT 1430 and Marbella.

An interesting event once again, and the largely sunny skies that bathed the city in daylight while I attended got even better the following day when bright blue skies were the order of the day. It all made for an excellent weekend.

2011-12-06 07:18:14

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