Rétromobile – February 2015

2015 marked the 40th time that the Rétromobile had been held, making it one of the longest established classic car events in the world. It is also one of the best and best known and its timing in early February marks the awakening of an new year of shows and events the world over that only pauses for breath for a few weeks in December and January. Held at the Porte de Versailles exhibition complex on the south eastern side of Paris, it is easy to get to, being right by the Périphérique and both a Metro station and a Tram Stop. Visitors from around the world arrive to see what spectacular displays the organisers have managed to arrange each year. 119,000 of them in 2015, a significant increase from the 94,000 who came in 2014. A couple of years ago, the event moved from being spread out over a number of the smaller halls to being concentrated in Hall 1, one of the largest of the separate buildings on site, but still providing ample space for the array of over 450 display stands, 500 cars, numerous dealers and smaller stalls that have come to characterise the event. Every year there’s a central display which grabs the attention of everyone, with everything from boards, planes, prototypes and even a working replica of Cugnot’s steam wagon having featured. This year, there was no question what it should be: the incredible Baillon Collection, or at least a large part of it, that was due to be auctioned during the event. That occupied its own separate hall, leaving ample space in the main hall for plenty of other special displays, which, in true Rétromobile tradition combined everything from the familiar to the unusual and the downright quirky and eccentric. There’s a lot to see, but no so much that you can’t do it all in a day. Rétromobile used to be held over 10 days, but that has bee cut back to half that now, open from a Thursday to a Monday. Dealers swoop early, though there are few bargains to be had, with even the prices for books, models and automobilia on the ambitious side. The big crowds arrive at the weekend, unsurprisingly, so whilst it pays to get there early (it opens at 10am and not a minute earlier!), you will probably need to stay until towards the end to get good photos of many of the cars as in the middle of the day, it does get very busy. I did just that once again in 2015, enjoying a long day looking at some fabulous machinery, as you will see in this report.

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This is the 1969 Abarth 1000SP which took part in the Le Mans race that year. driven by Mauizio Zanelli and Locatelli. Sadly, the car did not finish the race, having to retire.

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The “Gentleman Car” society, sole approved importer of Shelby products for Europe, had a three car stand to pay homage to Carrol Shelby who passed away, aged 89 in May 2012. The cars were selected for their significance in the career of the legendary Texan racer turned automotive producer. Alongside am AC Cobra 289 “Street Version”, chassis CX8000 similar to the original Cobra model and a replica of the Shelby Cobra 427.

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Joining them was a nearly perfect reproduction of the Le Mans 66 winning GT40 MKII, driven at the time by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon for the Shelby American Racing Team. As a proof of the integrity and authenticity of the approach, about 90 % of the parts and components of the chassis of this CS (for Carroll Shelby) GT40 are interchangeable with those of the priceless and extremely rare original period racing cars.

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Elsewhere there were a couple of examples of the famous Cobra, including one with a Hardtop.

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One of my favourite pre-war cars, the legendary 6C1750 was produced by Alfa as a chassis which buyers could send to their favourite coachbuilder. The Touring and Zagato bodies are the ones you see most often, but there were other styles produced as well, and this is one, though I have been able to determine who produced it.

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Final evolution of the Alfa Romeo 6C was the 2500 which was announced in 1938. The 2500 had an enlarged engine compared to the predecessor models,with this Vittorio Jano designed double overhead cam engine available with either one or three Weber carburettors. The triple carburettor version was used in the top of line SS (Super Sport) version. The 2443 cc engine was mounted in a steel ladder frame chassis, which was offered with three wheelbase lengths: 3,250 mm (128.0 in) on the Turismo, 3,000 mm (118.1 in) on the Sport and 2,700 mm (106.3 in) on the Super Sport. Although it was clear that World War II was coming and car development would be stopped, Alfa did continue to produce a few hundred 6C 2500s were built from 1940 to 1945 before resuming production,  Postwar. The first new Alfa in his period was the 1946 6C 2500 Freccia d’Oro (Golden Arrow), of which 680 were built through 1951, with bodies by Alfa. Various coachbuilders made their own versions of the 2500, with most of the bodies made by Touring of Milan, though this one has a  Rigoli Robini Cabriolet style which is rather attractive. The car was sold to wealthy customers like King Farouk, Alì Khan, Rita Hayworth, Tyrone Power, and Prince Rainier. One was also featured in The Godfather in 1972. The 6C 2500 was one of the most expensive cars available at the time. The last 6C was produced in 1952, when it was replaced by the 1900.

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This is a Giulietta Sprint Speciale, the earlier version of a car which was produced between 1957 and 1965, latterly with Giulia badging. Just 1,366 examples were made . The first cars were fitted with the 1,290cc Giulietta engine and then in 1963 this was replaced by the more powerful 1,570cc Giulia unit. The SS, or Sprint Speciale series was never intended to be a volume car and it was considerably more expensive than the other models in the Giulietta and Giulia ranges. It certainly looked special, with streamlined bodywork which bore a marked resemblance to some of the marque’s earlier competition designs, particularly the famous Disco Volante sports-racer, not to mention the BAT 9 show car. With an all-up weight of under 950kgs, a five-speed gearbox and an output of 112bhp (in Giulia form) these were excellent road cars and were equally used in competition. They don’t come up for sale very often, and needless to say, the price tag is not small when they do.

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Even more exclusive, and considerably more valuable is this, a 1962 Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca by Zagato. Intended for racing, Alfa produced 200 examples of the SZ, the ultimate sporting development of Alfa Romeo’s legendary Giulietta. The body of the SZ was designed by Franco Scaglione in Bertone’s studio, but which was built, out of aluminium by  Zagato. This process took 300 hours, which meant that the cars were expensive. They were based on the shorter chassis of the Giulietta Spider but combined with the mechanicals of the racier Sprint Veloce and had tighter production tolerances as well as careful tuning. Because of its small size, and aluminium bodywork, the SZ was much faster than its steel-bodied production counterparts, able to achieve a top speed in excess of 120 mph from its 1290cc engine. The car used a space frame chassis, which was totally unlike the production Giulietta. Zagato also used perspex side windows and a relatively sparse interior to help reduce weight. The last 44 Sprint Zagatos in the 200 car production run featured the ‘Coda Tronca’ bodywork. which had a much longer body with a cut-off Kamm tail, a narrower front air intake and a lower roof, all of which were designed to penetrate the air better. Disc brakes were fitted up front. They are very rare these days.

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There were a couple of examples of the Alfa Tipo 33, a sports racing prototype raced by the Alfa Romeo factory-backed team between 1967 and 1977. These cars took part for Sport Cars World Championship, Nordic Challenge Cup, Interserie and CanAm series. A small number of road going cars were derived from it in 1967, called the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. Alfa Romeo started development of the Tipo 33 in the early 1960s, with the first car being built in 1965. It was sent to Autodelta to be completed and for additional changes to be made. It used an Alfa Romeo TZ2 straight-4 engine, but Autodelta produced its 2.0 litre V8 soon after. The 2000 cc Tipo 33 mid-engined prototype debuted on 12 March 1967 at the Belgian hillclimbing event at Fléron, with Teodoro Zeccoli winning. The first version was named as “periscope” because it had very characteristic air inlet. It was powered by a 1995 cc 90° V8 of 270 hp, with a large-diameter tube frame. The original T33 proved unreliable and uncompetitive in the 1967 World Sportscar Championship season, its best result a 5th at the Nürburgring 1000, co-driven by Zeccoli and Roberto Bussinell. In 1968, Alfa’s subsidiary, Autodelta, created an evolution model called 33/2, and one of these cars was shown.  At the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Porsche 907 with 2.2 litre engines were dominating the overall race, but Alfa took the 2-litre class win, with Udo Schütz and Nino Vaccarella; after that the car was named as “Daytona”. The win was repeated at the Targa Florio, where Nanni Galli and Ignazio Giunti also took second place overall, followed by teammates Lucien Bianchi and Mario Casoni. Galli and Giunti then won the class at the Nürburgring 1000 km, where the 2.5 litre version finished for the first time, 4th place in the 3.0 litre class with Schütz and Bianchi. However, in most races, the Alfa drivers were outclassed by their Porsche rivals which used bigger engines. In 1968, the car was used mainly by privateers, winning its class in the 1000km Monza, Targa Florio and Nürburgring races. At the end of season Alfa Romeo had finished third in the 1968 International Championship for Makes. A total of 28 cars were built during 1968, allowing the 33/2 to be homologated as a Group 4 Sports Car for 1969. Alfa continued to develop the car, and with the 33TT12 Alfa Romeo won the 1975 World Championship for Makes, and with the 33SC12 the 1977 World Championship for Sports Cars, taking the first place in all eight of the championship races.

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Also seen here was the later Tipo 33 TT3 Spider, dating from 1972, which achieved the absolute record in the Targa Florio with Helmut Marko, of 28 km/h on the 72km circuit, finishing the event in second place.

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There were surprisingly few classic Aston Martin models here. Indeed, the only two that I spotted were a DB5 and a DB6 Volante, both of them dealer cars offered for sale.

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Fiskens offered for sale the Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 class-winning Aston Martin DBR9. The DBR9 was introduced in 2005 based on the production DB9 and prepared based on FIA GT1 rules. Although the body looks similar to the production DB9, this one has carbon fibre body elements and is a more aerodynamic design. The engine is the well known Aston 5.993cc V12 60° with 48 valves producing 575 hp. Kerb weight was claimed at 1100 kg. The Aston Martin DBR9 accumulated GT1 Class wins in 2007 and 2008 at the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

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Although this distinctively shaped small car was sold with Lancia badges on it in the UK, in continental Europe, it was badged Autobianchi. The Y10 replaced the long running and very chic A112.

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There was an example of the A112 on the same stand, this one with Abarth badging, and showing signs of some modification by its owner.

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Reflecting the Abarth connection, there was also one of the crates in which they modern Esseesse kits was delivered.

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This is the famous 1929 Speed Six “Blue Train” Bentley. Produced for the South African millionaire Woolf Barnato, who had invested £100.000 in the Bentley Company in 1925, and who was passionate about Bentley cars, he was the owner of several models and a successful racing driver. He was, for example, on the winning seat at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928, 1929 and 1930. With his investment he became President of Bentley. In 1929, he imagined a new challenge to improve further the Bentley reputation; the challenge was to drive from Nice to London in a specially prepared Bentley and complete the journey in a shorter time than the Nice-Paris-London famous Blue Train. That is how this special Bentley 6.5 Litre became known as Bentley Blue Train. The record stipulates that he arrived in London four hours before the Blue Train.

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Bentley introduced the 6.5 Litre on the 10 June 1925 as the top of model in their range The Coachbuilder Barker prepared twenty bodies for the Bentley 6.5 Litre chassis, and each of them is unique. Four of them were open two-seaters.The one seen here, exhibited by Axel Schuette is the one prepared for Barker presentation on its stand at the 1928 Olympia Motor Show

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This is the seventh of the 1953 Bentley R-Type with coachwork by H.J. Mulliner to be built and one of just 25 ‘A Series’ cars, and the car that was seen on the Bentley stand at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show. This Bentley R-Type presented by Fiskens at 2015 Rétromobile was described at the time by Autocar magazine as ‘a modern magic carpet annihilating great distances’. Propulsion was by 4.556 cc 153 hp six cylinder engine.

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Also present here was an S2 Continental Coupe.

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There were two examples of the 328 sports car here. This was a sports car made between 1936 and 1940, with the body design credited to Peter Szymanowski, who became BMW chief of design after World War II (although technically the car was designed by Fritz Fiedler). It had a 1971cc straight 6 OHV engine and 3 solec carburettors which gave it an output of 79 bhp at 5000 rpm, and a top speed of 150 km/h, making this relatively light car ideal for motorsport. The 328 was introduced at the Eifelrennen race at the Nürburgring in 1936, where Ernst Henne drove it to win the 2.0 litre class. The 328 had more than 100 class wins in 1937, including the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Österreichische Alpenfahrt, and the La Turbie hillclimb. In 1938, the 328 won its class at Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally, and the Mille Miglia. The 328 won the RAC Rally in 1939 and came in fifth overall and first in class in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car continued its competition career after the war, with Frank Pratt winning the 1948 Australian Grand Prix driving a 328.

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One of the rarest BMW models of all times is the 507. Originally intended to be exported to the US at the rate of thousands a year, it never achieved that lofty goal and almost bankrupted the company. The 507 was conceived by U.S. automobile importer Max Hoffman who, in 1954, persuaded the BMW management to produce a roadster version of the BMW 501 and BMW 502 saloons to fill the gap between the expensive Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the cheap and underpowered Triumph and MG sports cars. BMW engineer Fritz Fiedler was assigned to design the rolling chassis, using existing components wherever possible. Early body designs by Ernst Loof were rejected by Hoffman, who found them to be unappealing. In November 1954, at Hoffman’s insistence, BMW contracted designer Albrecht von Goertz to design the BMW 503 and the 507. The production car was launched in late 1955. Thirty-four Series I 507s were built in 1956 and early 1957. These cars had welded aluminium fuel tanks of 110 litres capacity behind the rear seats. These large tanks limited both boot space and passenger space, and gave off the smell of fuel inside the car when the hood was erected or the hardtop was in place. Series II and later 507s had fuel tanks of 66 litres capacity under the boot, shaped around a space for the spare tyre to fit. The 507 frame was a shortened 503 frame, the wheelbase having been reduced from 111.6 in to 98 in. Overall length was 190.4 in, and overall height was 49.5 in. Curb weight was about 1,330 kilograms (2,930 lb). The body was almost entirely hand-formed of aluminium, and no two models were exactly the same. 11 cars were sold with an optional hand-fabricated removable hardtop. Because of the car-to-car differences, each hardtop fits only the car for which it was made. Front suspension was parallel double wishbones, with torsion bar springs and an anti-roll bar. Rear suspension had a live axle, also sprung by torsion bars, and located by a Panhard rod and a central, transverse A-arm to control acceleration and braking forces. Brakes were Alfin drum brakes of 11.2 in diameter, and power brakes were optional. Late-model 507s had front Girling disc brakes. The engine was BMW’s aluminium alloy OHV V8, of 3,168 cc  with pushrod-operated overhead valves. It had two Zenith 32NDIX two-barrel carburettors, a chain-driven oil pump, high-lift cams, a different spark advance curve, polished combustion chamber surfaces, and a compression ratio of 7.8:1,yielding 150 hp at 5,000 rpm. It was mated to a close ratio four-speed manual transmission. The standard rear-end ratio was 3.70:1, but ratios of 3.42:1 and 3.90:1 were optional. A contemporary road test of a 507 with the standard 3.70:1 final drive was reported in Motor Revue, stating a 0–100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph.The 507 made its debut at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in the summer of 1955. Production began in November 1956. Max Hoffman intended the 507 to sell for about US$5,000, which he believed would allow a production run of 5,000 units a year. Instead, high production costs pushed the price in Germany to DM 26,500 (later 29,950), driving the U.S. price initially to $9,000 and ultimately $10,500. Despite attracting celebrity buyers including Elvis Presley (who owned two), Hans Stuck and Georg “Schorsch” Meier, the car never once reached more than 10% of the sales volumes achieved by its Stuttgart rival, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Intended to revive BMW’s sporting image, the 507 instead took BMW to the edge of bankruptcy—the company’s losses for 1959 were DM 15 million. The company lost money on each 507 built, and production was terminated in late 1959. Only 252 were built, plus two prototypes. Fortunately for the company, an infusion of capital from Herbert Quandt and the launch of new, cheaper models (the BMW 700 and later the ‘New Class’ 1500) helped the company recover.The 507 remains a milestone model for its attractive styling. 202 507s are known to survive, a tribute to the car’s appeal. Bernie Ecclestone’s 507 fetched £430,238 at an auction in London in October 2007. By  2009 the prices for 507s had reached €900,000. At the Amelia Island Concours in March, 2014 a 507 sold at auction for $2.4 million. Several notable personalities have owned 507s. In 1959, while stationed in Germany on duty with the US Army, legendary American entertainer Elvis Presley bought a white 507. Presley’s car, no. 70079, had earlier been used as a press demonstrator by BMW and raced by Hans Stuck. It was imported into the United States in 1960 and was bought by Alabama disc jockey Tommy Charles, who had it extensively modified, including having the engine replaced with a Chevrolet V8. In July 2014, BMW Group announced that Presley’s car will be on display for a short period at the BMW Museum in Munich, before being entirely restored by its Classic department. Elvis reportedly gave another 507, no. 70192, to Ursula Andress, who starred in Fun in Acapulco with him in 1963.[note 2] Andress’s husband, John Derek, had the car customized, including having the engine replaced with a Ford 289 V8. Andress sold the car to George Barris. The car was restored with a correct drivetrain by a later owner. When the car arrived at McDougall’s Carrera Automotive it had also been repainted black. Being that the original engine was lost to time 2 503 V8’s were located along with the dual carburettor intake from a 507. Both engines were made into a running engine with BMW AG making a new engine gasket kit including head gaskets at a cost of US$25,000. It was also returned to its original blue color. It was sold at auction in 1997 for US$350,000 and at another auction in 2011 for US$1,072,500. John Surtees was given a 507 by Count Agusta for winning the 1956 500cc World Motorcycle Championship on a MV Agusta. Surtees worked with Dunlop to develop disc brakes for the front wheels of the 507, and his 507 eventually had disc brakes on all four wheels. Surtees still owns his 507.

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Final BMW was one of the 3.0 CSL “Batmobile” cars. Introduced in May 1972, the 3.0 CSL was a homologation special built to make the car eligible for racing in the European Touring Car Championship. The “L” in the designation meant leicht (light), unlike in other BMW designations, where it meant lang (long). The lightness was achieved by using thinner steel to build the unit body, deleting the trim and soundproofing, using aluminium alloy doors, bonnet, and boot lid, and using Perspex side windows. The five hundred 3.0 CSLs exported to the United Kingdom were not quite as light as the others, as the importer had insisted on retaining the soundproofing, electric windows, and stock E9 bumpers on these cars. Initially using the same engine as the 3.0 CS, The 3.0 CSL was given a very small increase in displacement to 3,003 cc by increasing the engine bore by one quarter of a millimetre. This was done in August 1972 to allow the CSL to be raced in the “over three litre” racing category, allowing for some increase in displacement in the racing cars. In 1973,  the engine in the 3.0 CSL was given another, more substantial increase in displacement to 3,153 cc by increasing the stroke to 84 mm (3.3 in). This final version of the 3.0 CSL was homologated in July 1973 along with an aerodynamic package including a large air dam, short fins running along the front fenders, a spoiler above and behind the trailing edge of the roof, and a tall rear wing. The rear wings were not installed at the factory, but were left in the boot for installation after purchase. This was done because the wings were illegal for use on German roads. The full aero package earned the racing CSLs the nickname “Batmobile”.  In 1973, Toine Hezemans won the European Touring Car Championship in a 3.0 CSL and co-drove a 3.0 CSL with Dieter Quester to a class victory at Le Mans. Hezemans and Quester had driven to second place at the 1973 German Touring Car Grand Prix at Nürburgring, being beaten only by Chris Amon and Hans-Joachim Stuck in another 3.0 CSL. 3.0 CSLs would win the European Touring Car Championship again in every year from 1975 to 1979. The 3.0 CSL was raced in the IMSA GT Championship in 1975, with Sam Posey, Brian Redman, and Ronnie Peterson winning races during the season

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Brought over from Holland was this Type 15, the sixth oldest Bugatti, dating from 1912. It has been seen at a number of events in the recent past and will be spending the early part of 2015 at the Bugatti Trust museum at Prescott.

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Although Bugatti is most famous for its small and sporting sports cars, Ettore’s firm did build some more luxurious models, and it was not long before his ambitions extended further upmarket. It is said that the Royale, the Type 41, came about because he took exception to the comments of an English lady who compared his cars unfavourably with those of Rolls-Royce. Having told the world that the British Bentley was the “fastest lorry in the world”, Ettore thought he could create a car to beat the very Best in the World. The result, the Type 41, better known as the Royale, was first seen in 1927. A vast car, with a 4.3 m (169.3 in) wheelbase and 6.4 m (21 ft) in overall length, and weighing approximately 3175 kg (7000 lb), it used a 12,763 cc straight-eight engine to power it. At the time it was one of the largest cars ever made. For comparison, against a modern Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Royale is about 20% longer, and more than 25% heavier. The prototype had a near 15-litre capacity engine, but for the production version, its stroke was reduced from 150 mm (5.9 in) to 130 mm (5.1 in) so it had a displacement of 12.7 litres. The engine was built around a single huge block, and at approx. 4.5 ft long x 3.5 ft high, is one of the largest automobile engines ever made, Its eight cylinders, bored to 125 mm and with a stroke length of 130 mm, each displaced more than the entire engine of the contemporary Type 40 touring car. Producing around 275 bhp, it had 3 valves per cylinder (two inlet:one exhaust) driven by a centrally positioned single overhead camshaft. Three bearings and only a single custom carburettor was needed. The engine was based on an aero-engine design that had been designed for the French Air Ministry, but never produced in that configuration. The engine block and cylinder head were cast in one unit. Grinding of the engine valves was a regular maintenance requirement, and removing the engine valves for grinding required removing and disassembling the large cast iron engine. The chassis was understandably substantial, with a conventional semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension arrangement at the front. At the rear the forward-facing Bugatti quarter-elliptics were supplemented by a second set facing to the rear. Strangely, for the modern day observer, the aluminium clutch box was attached to the chassis, not to the engine, and the gear box, also in aluminium, was attached to the rear axle, so was part of the unsprung mass of the suspension. The reason for placing the clutch and gearbox at such odd locations was to reduce noise, so increasing comfort inside the cars, a difficult problem in those days. On the other hand, in view of the Royale’s huge mass, placing the gearbox on the rear axle did not present a driveability problem. Massive brake shoes were mechanically operated via cable controls: the brakes were effective but without servo-assistance required significant muscle power from the driver. The car’s light alloy “Roue Royale” wheels measured 24 inches in diameter and were cast in one piece with the brake drums. Reflecting the fashion of the time, the driver was confronted by a series of knobs of whalebone, while the steering wheel was covered with walnut. A road test performed in 1926 by W. F. Bradley at the request of Ettore Bugatti for the Autocar magazine proved how exquisite chassis construction allowed very good and balanced handling at speed, similar to smaller Bugatti sports cars, despite the car’s weight and size. All Royales were individually bodied. The radiator cap was a posed elephant, a sculpture by Ettore’s brother Rembrandt Bugatti. In 1928 Ettore Bugatti asserted that “this year King Alfonso of Spain will receive his Royale”, but the Spanish king was deposed without taking delivery of a Royale, and the first of the cars to find a customer was not delivered until 1932. The Royale with a basic chassis price of $30,000, was launched just as the world economy began to deteriorate into the 1930s Great Depression.  Ettore had  planned to build twenty-five of these cars, sell them to royalty and to be the most luxurious car ever. But even European royalty was not buying such things during the Great Depression, and Bugatti was able to sell only three of the six made between 1929 and 1933. Intended for royalty, none was eventually sold to any royals, and Bugatti even refused to sell one to King Zog of Albania, claiming that “the man’s table manners are beyond belief!” All six production Royales still exist, the prototype was destroyed in an accident in 1931, and each has a different body, some having been rebodied several times. Five of them were gathered together at the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed, to mark the car’s 80th anniversary and all 6 were assembled at Pebble Beach some years before that. but you don’t often get the chance to see one of them, let alone three. Here were three of them, outside their current home, the Cite de l’Automobile (formerly known as the Schlumpf Collection). The three have very different bodystyles: Coupe Napoleon, Park Ward saloon and the replica Esders roadster.

The first car, chassis number 41.110, is known as the Coupe Napoleon. It was fitted with the larger 14.7 litre prototype engine.The Coupé Napoleon was used by Ettore Bugatti, and in his later life became his personal car. It remained in the family’s possession, housed at their Ermenonville chateau until financial difficulties enforced its sale in 1963 and it subsequently passed into the hands of Bugatti obsessive Fritz Schlumpf.  It originally had a Packard body but was quickly rebodied by Paris coach builder Weymann as a two door fixed head coupe, painted yellow and black. The Weymann body was replaced after the car was crashed by Ettore Bugatti who in 1930 or 1931 fell asleep at the wheel travelling home from Paris to Alsace necessitating a major rebuild. At various stages it was also fitted with other bodies. It was bricked up with 41.141 and 41.150 during World War II at the home of the Bugatti family in Ermenonville, to avoid being commandeered by the Nazis. It now resides in the Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse, alongside 41.131 that the Schlumpf brothers had acquired from John Shakespeare.

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That car, the fourth built, is chassis no.41.131 and is known as the Foster car or Limousine Park-Ward. When new it was sold to Englishman Captain Cuthbert W. Foster, heir to a large department store in Boston, USA, through his American mother, in 1933. Foster had a limousine body made for the car by Park Ward, created in the style of a 1921 Daimler 30HP he had once owned. It was acquired in 1946 by British Bugatti dealer Jack Lemon Burton for around £700, who was forced to replace the huge tyres with ones from an artillery piece, necessitating the need to remove the skirting from the fenders. It was sold in June/July 1956 to American Bugatti collector John Shakespeare, becoming part of the largest collection of Bugattis at that time. Shakespeare paid £3,500 for the car, which was in mint condition. This was a substantial price for a collector car in 1956. Two show-condition SJ Duesenbergs could be bought at the same price that year. Brand new Ferraris started around this price in 1956 as well. Facing financial problems, in 1963 Shakespeare sold his car collection to Fritz Schlumpf and the car now resides in the Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse, alongside 41.110 that the brothers Schlumpf had acquired from the Bugatti estate.

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The third car is the Esders car, which is not one of the original 6 cars. It came about as the Schlumpf brothers so liked the original Dr Armand Esders coupe body on chassis 41.111, that, using original Bugatti parts, they commissioned a replica f the car, though it was not finished until 1991, years after their deaths. It now resides with the two originals they purchased at the Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse. The original Esders car was designed by jean Bugatti for the Belgian Armand Esders, a clothing magnate, who drove the car around the Deauville area where he had bought a villa, for many years, only ever in the daylight as the car did not (at his request) have headlights. Esders died in December 1940. the car was then rebodied and became the property of Raymond Patenotre, a French press baron, and then it passed to the VW Group.

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Renowned Swiss dealer Lukas Hüni AG had a display of cars which was dominated by Bugatti models this year, with Types 35, 51, 53, 54, 57 and 44 among them, and they made for a very impressive display.

Perhaps the best known of all pre-war Bugatti models is the Type and there was a lovely ex Grand Prix Type 35C here, formally owned by Maurice Trintignant and raced by him in many events including the Grand Prix of Pau, Nimes and Nice but also on hill climbs at the Mont Ventoux and the Klausen, later with a Type 51 engine.

After the Type 35 Grand Prix had conquered all of the world’s race circuits, a number of Bugatti enthusiasts expressed their wish for a four seats Bugatti,  suitable for long journeys and capable of holding a minimum of luggage. Bugatti also wanted to prepare for a scheduled rule to make four seats mandatory for Le Mans 24 Hours in the Thirties. Hence the Bugatti Type 43 Grand Sport, was born, combining the Grand Prix engine of the Type 35B (2.3 Litre 8 cylinder with Roots supercharger). This car dates from 1927.

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Influenced by the Miller twin cam racing cars, Ettore Bugatti set out to modify his Grand Prix car in the interest of ever increasing power and performance. This led to the Type 51 Grand Prix, most easily recognisable by the twin filler caps on its tail, but otherwise looking. quite similar to the Type 35 Grand Prix. The 2.3 litre twin cam engine offered slightly more power, at 187 hp, and also better torque. The first delivery went to factory-backed Louis Chiron, the second to Earl Howe and the third to Achille Varzi. This particular car is part of a private collection.

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This one is a 1931 Type 54, The iconic Type 35 dated back to the mid 1920s so by the turn of the decade, Bugatti had to upgrade its Type 35 Grand Prix car in view of the fierce competition from Alfa Romeo and Maserati which intensified during the early thirties race seasons. The Bugatti Type 54 was a direct response to this attack, based on the bloodline of the Type 35 but enhanced for Grand Prix competition; the Type 54 was the largest capacity Bugatti Grand Prix ever produced. Chassis N°54201, was the first of these 4.9 Litre twin overhead cam supercharged straight-eight cylinder propelled cars to race at Grand Prix. This car was driven by Achille Varzi at 1931 Monza Grand Prix. Although coming first in the heats, and setting the fastest lap during the race itself, two burst tyres affected his chances of winning overall. He recovered to finish third.

Also in Huehni’s display was a 1931 Type 53, a model I don’t recall ever seeing before. The Type 53 was a four-wheel drive racing car built in 1932. one of the first racing cars to attempt to drive all four wheels, though Ettore Bugatti himself had designed multi-engine all wheel drive vehicles early in his career. The Type 53 used the 4,972 cc engine from the Type 50 road car was fitted to the chassis of the Type 51 racer. It was originally conceived by Giulio Cappa, who created a front wheel drive Grand Prix car in 1926. Cappa’s associate, Antonio Pichetto, handled the development of the car while working at Bugatti, starting in 1930. The engine output was approximately 300 horsepower (220 kW). As a result of the elaborate front drivetrain, the Type 53 used the only independent front suspension system ever approved for use by Ettore Bugatti. The Type 53 was notoriously difficult to steer. At the Type 53’s debut in the 1932 Monaco Grand Prix, Albert Divo, noted for his size and strength, was chosen to drive the car, but he gave up during practice after exhausting himself. In June 1932, Jean Bugatti rolled a Type 53 at the Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb. The hard steering was attributed to not having constant-velocity joints for the front halfshafts and to unequal-length halfshafts without matching torsional characteristics. Modern tests, however, have shown the car to be quite tractable at speed. René Dreyfus won the 1934 La Turbie hillclimb with a record average speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) in a Type 53. Robert Benoist then won the 1935 Chateau-Thierry hillclimb in a Type 53, after which the type was retired. Two or three were built.

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This Type 44 sports a Vanvooren body. The car “disappeared” for more than ten years, but made itself visible again in 2014 apparently having recently changed hands. This is one of the first models that was bodied for Bugatti by the Courbevoie-based coachbuilder, a relationship which started in 1929 after the arrival there of Robert de Prandières. As well as building a good relationship with Ettore, he as a particuarly good friend of Dominique Lamberjack, who owned the largest Parisian dealership for the marque. Vanvooren went on to produce not just open and closed bodies for the Type 44, but also a number of other models.

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By 1930, Molsheim needed to fill a gap left by the existing series of Touring cars. This Bugatti Type 50 was a 4.9 litre sports car with compressor. The chassis, radiator and gearbox were identical to the parts found on the Bugatti Type 46. The engine was based on the Type 46 but had some milestone features for Bugatti such as the first use of twin overhead camshafts and angled valve position (90 degrees) inspired by the American Miller race cars. The engine had a dry sump lubrication and a crankshaft with nine roller-bearings, the improved combustion resulting from the new layout delivered more power for the same size when compared with earlier Bugatti. The Type 46 S engine would deliver some 160 hp at 3.500 rpm while the Type 50 would give 225 hp at 4.000 rpm. The wheelbase measured 3.10 metres. In 1932 a slightly less sporty version of the Type 50 was launched, called the Type 50T with a wheelbase increased to 3.50 metres. Altogether not more than 65 Type 50/50T were built. A majority of the Type 50 had factory-supplied bodies.

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The Bugatti Type 57 first appeared at the Salon de Paris in October 1933, next to the Types 46, 50 and 55, which were already in production. Jean Bugatti had a major influence on this model, refining it to the point that it showed a marked superiority over the many sophisticated motor cars of the thirties. Incorporating many entirely new parts, this car marked an important step forward in the history of Bugatti, to such an extent that it became for several years the sole product of the Molsheim company. The car was until 1940 during which time 710 examples were made. Most Type 57s used a twin-cam 3,257 cc engine based on that of the Type 49 but heavily modified by Jean Bugatti. Unlike the chain-drive twin-cam engines of the Type 50 and 51, the 57’s engine used gears to transmit power from the crankshaft.  The Type 57 was at first fitted with “standard” bodies, all four-seaters, available in various guises : the “Galibier” saloon, the “Stelvio” cabriolet or the “Ventoux” coach.

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This Bugatti 57S was prepared with a special cabriolet coachwork by Corsica for racing driver T.A.S.O. Mathieson. It is famous for its round tail inspired by the Bugatti Atlantic. The car exhibited by Lukas Hüni AG at 2015 Rétromobile is part of a private collection. It is powered by 3.3 Litre supercharged dry sump eight cylinder producing 200 hp.

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At the Salon de Paris in 1935, Jean Bugatti, veritable genius creator of the marque’s most beautiful cars such as the mythical “Esders” Roadster on the Royale chassis, and the famous Type 55 Roadster, presented a two-seater coupé called  “Atalante”. The Atalante body was built onto the standard Type 57 chassis as well as onto the rarer short wheelbase, lowered suspension Type 57s, with or without supercharger. Exceptionally elegant and built in very small numbers by Bugatti, the Atalante 57s will for future generations always be a car that is as exclusive as it is refined. Just 17 Atalantes were made.

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Inevitably, there’s more demand to own the almost mythical 57S Atalante than there are cars, so a company called De la Chappelle decided to capitalise on this interest by building modern replica versions which look very much like the classic models of the 1930s, but with modern build techniques and BMW mechanicals. This was not their first venture into the slightly controversial of Bugatti replicas, as they had produced a small number of replica Type 55 Roadster models for some years before launching their Type 57S Atalante in 1994. This one dates from 1996.

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The first “official” new Bugatti to produced in recent times was the EB110, of course. Believe it or not, this car owes its origins, at least in part, to Ferruccio Lamborghini. By the mid 1980s, he was no longer involved with the marque which bears his name, but he remained interest in the world of cars, even though he was now making his money as a vintner. He still harboured a dream of once again making cars, and he managed to get introduced to Romano Artiolo, who a the time was one of Ferrari’s most successful European distributors across Germany and Italy, and who owned a number of classic Bugattis. A discussion between the two men at the 1986 about trying to revive the marque led to a scheme with the EB110 at its heart, though Lamborghini soon lost interest in the venture and his part in the Bugatti revival are largely forgotten these days. As plans were made, an array of other stars from the industry came and went. Paolo Stanzani, former Technical Director at Lamborghini did not last long as he did not get on with Artioli and his place was taken by Nicola Materazzi, who had been the project leader on the Lancia Stratos and was heavily involved with the Ferrari Testarossa, 288 GTO and F40. Marcello Gandini, by then a freelancer, was engaged to style the car. No expense was spared, with a purpose-designed state of the art factory being constructed in Campogalliano on the outskirts of Modena. The specification was equally ambitious, with early prototypes with aluminium monocoques being deemed not sufficiently rigid,  so aeronautics company Aerospatiale was engaged to develop and produce the carbon fibre tub. The engine was a 3.5 litre all-alloy 60 valve V12, with four small superchargers, which meant that in the SuperSport version, there was 603bhp available. A six speed manual gearbox transmitted all those horses to all four wheels. There was a fairly conventional double wishbone suspension with twin spring/damper units, Brembo brakes and tyres specially developed by Michelin, which all helped the car to establish a production car top speed record of 212.5 mph. Artioli wanted to make ownership painless (relatively) with a three year warranty and service deal. The car was unveiled at the Place de la Defence in Paris in September 1991, on the occasion of Ettore Bugatti’s 110th birthday. Everything looked rosy. but then the world’s economies then stagnated. Artioli’s Suzuki franchise collapsed, though somehow he still had the money to buy up Lotus, but money became tight. The proposed EB112 saloon was quietly shelved, and the EB110 struggled to find buyers. It never got close to the projected 300 units per year. First deliveries were made in December 1992 and when the last car was made in September 1995, just 102 cars had been made. 102 of them were GTs and 38 Supersports. The EB110 was not a bad car, but what really sealed its fate was the McLaren F1, which is just about every respect was simply a better one. That was true back in 1994 and if you look at values of the two cars now, it is clear that the market sees it that way now. On the rare occasions that F1s come up for sale, you are going to have to pay sums in excess of £5 million, which would buy you 10 of the EB110s.

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Needing little in the way of an introduction is the Veyron. This is of many of the Limited Edition cars that have been made, a Bleu Centennaire Edition, made in 2009, and developed to mark the centenary of the Bugatti brand. This special model uses the traditional two-tone Bugatti design, but interprets it using two shades of blue: “Sprint Blue Matte” and “Sprint Blue Gloss”. The result is a completely new visual perspective. Parts of the engine were also rendered in this traditional Bugatti colour. The emblem that was created especially for this car features an abstract drawing depicting the outlines of two Bugatti legends, the Type 41 Royale and the Veyron 16.4. If you look more closely, you can see that the drawing also contains the inscription “0–100”. This represents the 100 years since the brand’s founding. This car is one of a kind.

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Those with long memories may recall one Jeremy Clarkson featuring a drive in one of these amazing machines on Top Gear back in 2002, and his effusive praise, when he observed: “I have to say, absolute hand on heart, I’ve never had so much fun in a car, really and truthfully, and I don’t think I’d ever tire of it.”. Combining aspects of a motorcycle and a car, both in appearance and design, the Carver is a tilting three-wheeled vehicle using an automatic balancing technology to balance the passenger compartment under all conditions. It is said to have the comfort, controls and stability of a normal car while showing the dynamic cornering behaviour of a motorcycle. The Carver can be driven by anyone with a normal car driver’s licence in the European Union, though other countries outside of the EU may not allow this. In most countries the taxation follows the motorcycle guidelines. The dimensions are 11 ft long by 4.3 ft wide by 4.6 ft high, giving it a low slim profile, similar to a motorcycle. It weighs 640 kg (1,410 lb), about half the weight of a medium size car or three to four times the weight of most motorcycles. The Carver One can tilt up to 45 degrees while turning. This is not based on how far the wheel is rotated, but on how much cornering force is applied to it. The Carver has a 660 cc 4-cylinder 16-valve engine with a turbo intercooler giving a power output of 65 bhp at 7,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 74 lb·ft at 4,000 rpm. An option is available to upgrade the ECU to give 85 bhp output (this option was never released). The transmission is a 5-speed manual with reverse, and all wheels are equipped with ventilated disk brakes. The front wheel is slightly larger than the rear wheels (at 17″ to 15″). The Carver One, as standard, has a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). The acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds  is slow compared to most motorcycles and average for a passenger car. Officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show on 7 March 2007, the first commercial Carver product, the Carver One, was  manufactured and distributed by Carver Europe (formerly named Vandenbrink) in the Netherlands. In June 2009 Carver Europe declared bankruptcy due to lack of demand at its €30,000 price, and ceased commercial production and sales. As of 2011, the technology is owned and licensed by Carver Technology.

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300 Convertible

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2015 marks the 60th anniversary of the fabulous DS, and I was expecting to see a lot of them at the event, and for there to be a huge display on Citroen’s own stand. Much to my surprise, there weren’t that many of the cars on show at all, and certainly the car did not dominate the huge Citroen stand. Three examples was all there were: a Chapron Cabrio, a 1972 DS20 Pallas and a 1959 DS19.  It is hard to imagine just how revolutionary this car must have seemed when it was unveiled at the Paris Show in 1955.  18 years in secret development as the successor to the Traction Avant, the DS 19 stole the show, and within 15 minutes of opening, 743 orders were taken. By the end of the first day, that number had risen to 12,000. Contemporary journalists said the DS pushed the envelope in the ride vs. handling compromise possible in a motor vehicle. To a France still deep in reconstruction after the devastation of World War II, and also building its identity in the post-colonial world, the DS was a symbol of French ingenuity. It also posited the nation’s relevance in the Space Age, during the global race for technology of the Cold War. Structuralist philosopher Roland Barthes, in an essay about the car, said that it looked as if it had “fallen from the sky”. An American advertisement summarised this selling point: “It takes a special person to drive a special car”. Because they were owned by the technologically aggressive tyre manufacturer Michelin, Citroën had designed their cars around the technically superior radial tyre since 1948, and the DS was no exception. The car featured a novel hydropneumatic suspension including an automatic levelling system and variable ground clearance, developed in-house by Paul Magès. This suspension allowed the DS to travel quickly on the poor road surfaces common in France. In addition, the vehicle had power steering and a semi-automatic transmission (the transmission required no clutch pedal, but gears still had to be shifted by hand  though the shift lever controlled a powered hydraulic shift mechanism in place of a mechanical linkage, and a fibreglass roof which lowered the centre of gravity and so reduced weight transfer. Inboard front brakes (as well as independent suspension) reduced unsprung weight. Different front and rear track widths and tyre sizes reduced the unequal tyre loading, which is well known to promote understeer, typical of front-engined and front-wheel drive cars. As with all French cars, the DS design was affected by the tax horsepower system, which effectively mandated very small engines. Unlike the Traction Avant predecessor, there was no top-of-range model with a powerful six-cylinder engine. Citroën had planned an air-cooled flat-6 engine for the car, but did not have the funds to put the prototype engine into production.  The 1955 DS19 was 65% more expensive than the car it replaced, the Citroën Traction Avant. This did impact potential sales in a country still recovering economically from World War II, so a cheaper submodel, the Citroën ID, was introduced in 1957. The ID shared the DS’s body but was less powerful and luxurious. Although it shared the engine capacity of the DS engine (at this stage 1,911 cc), the ID provided a maximum power output of only 69 hp compared to the 75 hp claimed for the DS19. Power outputs were further differentiated in 1961 when the DS19 acquired a Weber-32 twin bodied carburettor, and the increasing availability of higher octane fuel enabled the manufacturer to increase the compression ratio from 7.5:1 to 8.5:1.  A new DS19 now came with a promised 83 hp of power. The ID19 was also more traditional mechanically: it had no power steering and had conventional transmission and clutch instead of the DS’s hydraulically controlled set-up. Initially the basic ID19 was sold on the French market with a price saving of more than 25% against the DS, although the differential was reduced at the end of 1961 when the manufacturer quietly withdrew the entry level ID19 “Normale” from sale. An estate version was introduced in 1958. It was known by various names in different markets: Break in France, Safari and Estate in the UK, Wagon in the US, and Citroën Australia used the terms Safari and Station-Wagon. It had a steel roof to support the standard roof rack. ‘Familiales’ had a rear seat mounted further back in the cabin, with three folding seats between the front and rear squabs. The standard Break had two side-facing seats in the main load area at the back. During the 20 year production life, improvements were made on an ongoing basis. In September 1962, the DS was restyled with a more aerodynamically efficient nose, better ventilation and other improvements. It retained the open two headlamp appearance, but was available with an optional set of driving lights mounted on the front bumpers. A more luxurious Pallas trim came in for 1965  Named after the Greek goddess Pallas, this included comfort features such as better noise insulation, a more luxurious (and optional leather) upholstery and external trim embellishments. The cars were complex, and not always totally reliable, One of the issues that emerged during long term use was addressed with a change which came in for 1967. The original hydropneumatic system used a vegetable oil liquide hydraulique végétal (LHV), similar to that used in other cars at the time, but later switched to a synthetic fluid liquide hydraulique synthétique (LHS). Both of these had the disadvantage that they are hygroscopic, as is the case with most brake fluids. Disuse allows water to enter the hydraulic components causing deterioration and expensive maintenance work. The difficulty with hygroscopic hydraulic fluid was exacerbated in the DS/ID due to the extreme rise and fall in the fluid level in the reservoir, which went from nearly full to nearly empty when the suspension extended to maximum height and the six accumulators in the system filled with fluid. With every “inhalation” of fresh moisture- (and dust-) laden air, the fluid absorbed more water. For the 1967 model year, Citroën introduced a new mineral oil-based fluid liquide hydraulique minéral (LHM). This fluid was much less harsh on the system. LHM remained in use within Citroën until the Xantia was discontinued in 2001. LHM required completely different materials for the seals. Using either fluid in the incorrect system would completely destroy the hydraulic seals very quickly. To help avoid this problem, Citroën added a bright green dye to the LHM fluid and also painted all hydraulic elements bright green. The former LHS parts were painted black. All models, including the Safari and ID, were upgraded at the same time. The hydraulic fluid changed to the technically superior LHM (Liquide Hydraulique Minéral) in all markets except the US and Canada, where the change did not take place until January 1969, due to local regulations. Rarest and most collectable of all DS variants, a convertible was offered from 1958 until 1973. The Cabriolet d’Usine (factory convertible) were built by French carrossier Henri Chapron, for the Citroën dealer network. It was an expensive car, so only 1,365 were sold. These DS convertibles used a special frame which was reinforced on the sidemembers and rear suspension swingarm bearing box, similar to, but not identical to the Break/Safari frame.

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There were a further couple of models on one of the Owners Club stands, including one with the very elegant Chapron body making it into an elegant 2 door Coupe.

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As well as the DS models, the Citroen stand did feature a number of other classic Citroens, all represented by single models. Of these, the SM had an interesting history, as this car had previously belonged to the King of Morocco, Hassan II. With it were a GS Pallas from 1977, and a CX2400 Pallas from 1979.

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Surprisingly, there was almost a complete absence of 2CV models, and the only one that I recorded was this 2CV AZ Van.

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There were a couple of examples of the uber-cool Méhari here, one on the Citroen stand and one elsewhere. Much like the way the 1959 Mini became the 1964 Mini Moke, this small Citroen was based on an existing model, in this case, the 2CV/Dyane. 144,953 Méharis were built between the car’s French launch in May 1968 and 1988 when production ceased. A méhari is a type of fast-running dromedary camel, which can be used for racing or transport. A méhariste was a French Armée d’Afrique and Army of the Levant cavalryman that used these camels. The Méhari was based on the Citroën Dyane 6, and had a body made of ABS plastic with a soft-top. It also employed the 602 cc flat twin engine shared with the 2CV6 and Citroën Ami and because the standard Méhari weighed just 535 kg (1,179 lb), performance was respectable though very far from brisk. The vehicle also had the interconnected fully independent long-travel 2CV suspension used by all of the Citroën ‘A-Series’ vehicles. The colour was integrated into the ABS plastic material in production, and as a utilitarian vehicle, the options chart was quite limited. Only the Vert Montana remained in the catalogue for all the 18 years of production. Except for Azur blue, the official names of colours all refer to desert regions. Ultraviolet rays from the Sun impact the colourfastness of ABS plastic, so unrestored cars have a faded appearance. New bodies for restorations are only supplied in white colour, and now require painting on top of a specialist primer. This is similar to the way the mechanical parts of the 1960 Mini became the 1964 Mini Moke.A four-wheel drive version of the Méhari was produced from 1980 to 1983 and had excellent off-road qualities, due to the lightness of the vehicle. Unlike the earlier four wheel drive 2CV Sahara, which had two engines, this car only had one. Only 1300 were produced and so these cars are now both rare and highly sought after. The Méhari was sold in the United States in 1969 and 1970, where the vehicle was classified as a truck. As trucks had far more lenient National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety standards than passenger cars in the US, the Méhari did not have seat belts. The Mehari did have limited sales success. Budget Rent-A-Car bought a number of them and offered them as rentals in Hawaii. Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, California, used them as groundskeeper cars.The cars had some differences from those sold elsewhere, with an altered front panel with larger 7″ sealed-beam headlamps being the most obvious.

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Conceptually similar, was this, a Baby Brousse, a Citroën based buggy, a bit like a metal-bodied Citroën Méhari and is similar in concept to the French Citroën FAF. Towards the end of the 1950s, in Abidjan in the Côte d’Ivoire, a French expatriate named Maurice Delignon who found himself in Côte d’Ivoire at the end of the Second World War proposed what might be seen as the ancestor of the Baby Brousse. By trade a cabinet maker, he was an inventor at heart and as well as a car., he also designed and built a submarine which for years was moored in Abidjan where it was used as a restaurant. Delignon took it with him when he returned to France in the mid 80s and it was moored at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and was then moved in the early 90s to a mooring between the pont de Puteaux and the pont de Suresnes. The car design was viewed as “eccentric” and was not put into production. However, the idea was revived several years later by Messrs Letoquin and Lechanteur and the Baby Brousse was born. It is not known whether they were aware of Delignon’s proposal but geography and being members of the same expatriate community would suggest that they were. Letoquin and Lechanteur  were the owners of les Ateliers et Forges de l’Ebrié, a company in Abidjan in the Côte d’Ivoire. Their new vehicle, the Baby Brousse was based on Ami 6 chassis and mechanical components but with a pressed folded sheet-steel body that required no welding and was simply bolted to the chassis. It can thus be seen as a sort of metal-bodied Méhari. It is often suggested that the Méhari was inspired by the Baby Brousse although the construction of the two vehicles is totally different. Some 800 vehicles were produced “unofficially” while negotiations continued with Citroën to put things on a more formal basis. In 1969, Citroën bought the licence for the Baby Brousse design from Ateliers et Forges de l’Ebrié with a view to putting the design into production in other countries. That same year, the Dalat went into production in what was then South Vietnam. Whether there was input from Citroën is not clear; indeed the fact that in 1973 Citroën brought three Dalat bodies to France from Vietnam and analysed the design would suggest not. From these studies they designed a vehicle whose simple manufacture could be carried out without requiring heavy investments in pressing tools and used the Baby Brousse name originally used in Côte d’Ivoire. Additionally, Dalat proposed a 4×4 version of the car but Citroën were not interested. The sole example was sent to Citroën for study. The later Baby Brousse was based on the mechanical underpinnings of the 2CV Fourgonnette and it was intended that the mechanical components would be exported from France as CKD (completely knocked down) kits for assembly in countries without the industrial infrastructure to build automobiles. It was thus quite similar in concept to the FAF and Africar. In 1977, Citroën signed a framework agreement with Guinée Bissau to produce 500 vehicles (whether Baby Brousse or FAF is not known) per year and in 1979, Citroën entered into agreements for the manufacture of the FAF in Sénégal, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinée Bissau and République Centrafricaine. The FAF design drew strongly on the Baby Brousse but differed in two major respects – it had a roof (although the Patrol was open-topped) and the body comprised spot welded panels which were bolted together. Because of the artisanal nature of the vehicle’s construction and problems with obtaining components, a number of modifications were frequently made locally which resulted in changes in appearance. In Greece, a version was built by Namco with Dyane 6 components in a specifically built factory. These had better build quality and equipment than others. 17,000 of these were built. Overall, the vehicle was a success with more than 31,000 being built in the Ivory Coast  from 1963 to 1987.

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There was one brand new car on the stand, the C4 Cactus, a car which seems to return to traditional Citroen values. A future classic? We shall see.

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Rounding off the various historic Citroen models was this example of an open topped Traction Avant.

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It was in late autumn 2014 that news began to emerge of a most incredible “barn find”. Not just the odd car or two, but around 90 vehicles, including many rare  cars from the 1930s and a Ferrari long list since lost were among their number, and enthusiasts got very excited as this came to be described as the “Barn Find of the Century”. This is the Baillon Collection, and much has been written since the discovery, as more details have emerged. Roger Baillon was a mechanic in the French Air Force and after the War, he created lorries for transporting chemicals from a factory to the Paris Metro, where they were used to clean the tunnels. It was a successful venture and he made a lot of money. So much that in 1950 he was able to buy the Chateau where these cars were to be found which as well as giving him somewhere to live proved to be a perfect place where he could store the cars he started buying. The collection continued to grow and by the 1970s, it numbered over 200 cars, which were stored piecemeal in shelters and buildings around the grounds. Baillon then lost his main contract, which forced his firm into bankruptcy and many of the cars had to be sold, with two bank-enforced sales in 1979 and 1983, but 114 cars managed to escape the creditors. They remained on site, largely hidden from sight or any publicity, and there the stayed, gathering dust, and gently deteriorating. Following the death of Roger’s son Jacques in the autumn of 2013, the next generation, Roger’s grandchildren approached Artcurial, a world-renowned Auction House, to assess and dispose of the collection  And that is when the word got out, and enthusiasts got very excited. The decision was taken to offer around 60 of the cars for auction, and that the family would keep a small number of the rest, duly restored, as a tribute to the late Roger Baillon.

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Artcurial’s auction of those 60 cars was scheduled to take place on the Friday evening of the 2015 Retromobile, and although there were immense challenges in so doing, they decided that they should show the 60 cars on site, creating what for most people would be the display that they will never ever forget as long as they live, so all visitors to the event could see the cars before they head off to new owners and likely restoration.  The cars were displayed in a separate hall, and there were long queues almost all the day I was there, to get in. Once inside, a special atmosphere had been created by the use of restricted lighting (you know what that is going to mean for the photos!), subtle background music, and a simple set of displays, with the cars each shown individually, in exactly the state in which they had been found. In most cases that meant that 50 years of dirt was probably what was holding them together! As is well documented, the star of the collection was a Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, that was probably the car in the best overall condition, thanks to the fact that it was more completely covered by piles of “L’Automobile” magazine, the sheer weight of which had dented the bootlid. This car actually belonged to Jacques Baillon, his father Roger having owned a white example of the model which is no longer in the collection. The car was originally bought by French actor Gerard Slain, who sold it to Alain Delon in 1963, and it is the ownership for which the car is known. Delon kept the car on Monte Carlo plates and it starred alongside him and Jane Fonda in the 1964 film Les Felins. It had three further owners, one of whom was Paul Buvot, Chief Stylist at Peugeot, before Jacques Baillon acquired it in 1971. Described as a matching numbers car, and still with its ignition key and even the handbook and period maps, the question will be whether to leave it as found, or to spend the not inconsiderable sum required to get it back to its former glory. Estimates were that it would sell for around €9 – 12 million, but it went on to record an incredible price of €16.4 million, as Simon Kidson managed to secure it for his (still un-named, but someone who is looking systematically to build up a world-class collection) client. Bidding started at €7 million, but by the time it reached €14.1 million, it was down to just 2 people in the face of interest from one other determined bidder.

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The car to generate the next most excitement was a Maserati, a 1956 A6G 2000 Gran Sport Frua, one of just 4 made in this style. This one fetched just over €2 million, and again will need more than just polishing up. Although mostly complete, it lacks a front bulkhead. It is believed to have last run around 5 years ago. The car was bought by Baillon as long ago as 1961.

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Also fetching big money, considering its condition, at €1,702,000,  was this 1947 Talbot T26 Gran Sport Saoutchik. One of around 25 road cars built with a competition-spec triple carburettor engine, this car was apparently complete, although the tail had suffered from serious crash damage and putting the car back its former glory will clearly be difficult and costly.

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There was another Talbot Lago T26. This was a T26 Record Fastback Coupe Saoutchik, and although not in such bad a state as the Gran Sport (its body had not been damaged), it “only” fetched €417.200.

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There were numerous Delahaye models in the collection. Among them were a 1948 135 Chapron, which went for  €79,844, a 1952 Delahaye 235 Chapron, which fetched €107,280, the 1953 235 Chapron Carte sold for €119,200 and a 1949 SFA148L Limousine Guillore for which  €30,992 was the winning bid.

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One of Citroen’s small cars from the mid Twenties, a 1924 Type C 5hp Torpedo Trefle, in poor condition, like almost everything else, cost its new owner €23,840

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Slightly cheaper was this 1918 Renault 12CV Type EU Torpedo at €15,496

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Among the more distinctive shapes that were quite easy to discern in the poor lighting were this 1936 Panhard et Levassor Dynamic X76, sold for  €56,024 and the  X77, at €36,952. The Conduite-Centrale Coupe had a central driving position, with a passenger on either side of the driver, McLaren F1 style.

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This 1926/7 Berliet V1GB 10hp had seen service as a taxi in its youth.

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Even this very tatty 1963 Innocenti 950S Cabriolet went for €17,880.

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€89,400 seems a lot to pay for a 1963 Porsche 356SC Coupe in this state, though given the way that prices of immaculate ones are going, perhaps this is profit to be made by someone restoring it.

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One of very few cars that were neither French nor Italian in the collection was this 1952 Singer Roadster 1500. It fetched €10,728

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Also British in origin was this 1936 Lagonda LG45 Cabriolet. A lot of money will money which will need to be spent in addition to the €97,744 paid for it as it stands.

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The total realised for the whole collection was €25.1 million, with cars being bought by collectors in the US, UK. France, Italy, Slovakia, Russia, India, Dubai and Australia. The prices made for most cars show clear signs of people’s enthusiasm carrying them away. It is thought that some cars will be kept more or less “as is”, whilst others will be restored in time. A majority of the remainder of the cars were French, and most were pre-war.


Renowned Italian architect Corrado Lopresto brought along a dozen cars from his amazing collection which focuses on prototypes and one-off models, mainly from Alfa Romeo and Lancia. Unlike some, who squirrel their treasures away, so they are not seen for years at a time, Lopresto manages to get many of his cars on display at some of the more prestigious events around the world, and he has won many prizes at Villa d’Este, Amelia Island and Pebble Beach with some of the splendid cars that he owns. The oldest car of the ones on show here was one that I have seen before, as it came to the UK in Summer 2013 for the St James Palace Concours of Elegance. This is a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato Aprile, and it is stunning. This car was first built in 1931, as a  Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport, styled as a roadster by Zagato, and powered by the Vittorio Jano designed twin-camshaft 1752cc 6 cylinder engine. The car was, and still is an absolute gem, a thoroughbred which had already proved itself by winning the Mille Miglia. This car was fitted with a supercharger and its owners competed in national races, but that was not quite enough. In 1938, the coachbuilder Carrozzeria Aprile in Savona acquired this 6C for the sum of 4000 lire. The Spider was then fitted with a customised aerodynamic body which was designed by Mario Revelli de Beaumont, with a style somewhat reminiscent of the racing Alfa Romeo Alfetta of the era. This Alfa Romeo was owned by Feltri until 1956. Lopresto purchased the car in 2008 at which point it  was put through a painstaking restoration which included research work carried out by the Milan Politecnico in order to achieve a precise definition of the original colour. Since its restoration, the 6C 1750 Gran Sport bodied by Aprile has won a number of awards at various events, including in  the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este where it Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este “best of show” by public referendum for Historic cars as well as being the Class C winner.

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I’ve actually seen this one, as well, as it was displayed as part of the 60th anniversary display at the Auto Moto d’Epoca in Padua last October. It is one of just two Scaglione-bodied Alfa Romeo Spiders, which were produced in 1955. This car owes its existence to Max Hoffman, the charismatic Austrian who had fled his native land once the Nazis had annexed it and eventually ended up in New York. he started his new life making money by selling jewellery of metal-coated plastic, but in 1947 he turned his attention to cars, setting up the Hoffman Motor Company. Getting stock to display in his showroom on Park Avenue in the post war era was not easy so initially he took what he could get, but within three years, he had secured agreement with Jaguar to import the XK120, and spotting the potential of the VW Beetle, which most pundits had dismissed, he briefly had exclusive East Coast distribution rights for that car, and it was largely thanks to his efforts in persuading Mercedes to build a road going version of their Le Mans car that we got the gull-wing 300SL racer and he set up Porsche in the US. Alfa Romeo knew that they needed access to the US market, so they were interested in getting him to help them. Initially that proved difficult, as his nose had been put of joint over a first effort to represent the brand, but when he saw the 750 Series Giulietta Sprint Coupe, Hoffman decided to reconsider. However, he insisted that an open topped version would be needed. Alfa were sceptical, as they did not think there would be much local demand, but they were so desperate for Hoffman’s contract that they commissioned both PininFarina and Bertone to produce proposals. Hoffman picked the Pininfarina car, with the proviso that it gained windup windows, so you might conclude he did not like the Bertone one, which was styled by Scaglione. In fact that is not so, and for a while there was a possibility of both being produced, but in the end, the Bertone car was not produced, largely because it was feared that it would be too costly to do so, but the fact that some research was done as to whether the body could be made from the new glassfibre suggests that it was looked at seriously. The original prototype headed States-side but now lives in Switzerland, the second one remained in Italy. It would seem that when the prototypes were made, Pininfarina received chassis numbers 1 and 3 and Bertone got 2 and 4. This car is chassis number 4, and it differs from chassis number 2 especially at the back, with less pronounced rear fins. This car is believed to have lived in Reggio nell’Emilia and by the time stories emerged of its existence in the 1980s, it was in a rather decrepit state. It had been painted red at some stage. When Lopresto bought it, he undertook his usual thorough research in advance of a meticulous restoration. Surprisingly, the side screens, hood and bespoke windscreen are original and just needed a good clean. The Pininfarina car which reached production is, of course, achingly pretty, but there is a charm about this one, which means it is such a pity that it was not produced in parallel.

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I’ve also been lucky enough to see this one as well, the 1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500SS Bertone, which Corrado brought to Brooklands a couple of years ago, where it absolutely stole the show. Yet another stunning car. The 6C 2500 was the last of the large, bespoke Jano-designed Alfa Romeo produced in relatively small volumes before World War II and also immediately afterwards. Post-war versions- built through to 1951-had column gear changes, but were otherwise mechanically virtually identical. In fact these cars had continued to be manufactured throughout the war in very small numbers, as this car testifies. They came with two and four door coachwork and with between 87 and 110 bhp; in this Super Sport form they do comfortably over 100 mph. These cars with their large 17 inch wheels and twin overhead camshaft straight-six engines reflected all the firm’s old engineering values and made an ideal basis for exotic bodywork from the likes of Touring (who prepared the majority of coachwork), Ghia and others. This car, a very definite one-off was designed by Revelli di Beaumont for Bertone. It actually started life as a racer. From 1939 to 1942, Type 256 Sport chassis were sent to Scuderia Ferrari for racing purposes, shortened in the wheelbase from 3000mm to 2700mm and had a larger fuel tank fitted. from 1942 the structure was reinforced with a transverse beam and the cars were renamed Super Sport. This lacks that feature, so although it was produced in December 1942, it is thought to be based on an older refurbished chassis. Raw materials were in short supply by 1942 because of the war, so it would seem quite likely that with a racing career over, Bertone used it for this spectacular creation, resulting in what was very much a dream car. Certainly when the car was being restored, the cuts and welds made by Bertone as well as supports for the previous body were very evident. In 1946 the car was bought by a coal trader in Brig (Switzerland) who kept the car for 20 years before selling it to Bob Moran who then owned it until 2000. Lopresto first saw it at the TechnoClassica in Essen in 2003 where it was for sale. He tried to buy it, but was outbid. A year later, he met the owner at a New York Concours event, and he asked if he could buy it. The car is almost completely original, with just the front grilled having been modified. Every mechanical piece is stamped with two numbers, which turned out to be the year of manufacture and the employee id of the person who made it. The car did need to be restored, but everything was able to be preserved, making this a particularly special car. Needless to say, the finished car has won many prizes including a “Best in Class” at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island in 2010 and the Coppa d’Oro at Villa d’Este in 2011.

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Also a 6C 2500SS is this car,  dating from 1949. It was styled by Pininfarina and an evolution of the design of this car almost certainly gave birth to the 1952 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT. Indeed if you only saw this car from the back, that’s what you might think you were looking at. The car is a one-off, built for the nobleman Giovanni San Giorgio Gualtieri of Catania. It is also based on the Super Sport chassis, being number 769. The Alfa factory was damaged during the war, but the company had stored the moulds and tools needed to produce cars, so when production resumed, they restarted making the 6C 2500 that they had been producing before and in the first couple of years of the war. Most of the chassis were then shipped to coachbuilders, to construct their own design of bodywork. Elegance had an even more important role at this time, as the few customers who could afford expensive cars like this in the post war world wanted something special, and many will tell you that the various Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS designs which resulted were among the greatest masterpieces of the Italian coachbuilders of the late ’40s and early’ 50s. Pininfarina took delivery of the chassis for this car in May 1949 and over the course of the next year, fashioned the shapely body to go over it. The result was a supremely elegant car which is also the first example of a car with twin headlights in the world. It also has an unusual butterfly-style bonnet, as was found on Rolls Royce models of the 50s.  A similar convertible version of this car was produced for Ali Khan, but that car is long since lost. The finished car was shipped to Musumeci, the Alfa dealer in Rome in September 1950 for Baron Giovanni Sangiogio Gualtieri from Catania. It is not recorded just how costly the car was, but it was a lot. Baron Gualtieri only had the car for a year or so and then he passed away, leaving all his money to a foundation which bore his name, much to the consternation of  his family. The car was sold in 1951 to a second owner in Sicily, and it arrived in England in 1961 in the ownership of Sir Anthony Andren. In 1975 it was bought by a dealer, and following an advert in Motor Sport, it was sold to a Frank B Day of Boulder, Colorado. Day sold it in 1989 to Mark Wallack who began a restoration which was continued by a subsequent owner, before Lopresto was able to purchase it in 2004. Although the car had been little used and was allegedly almost restored. Lopresto found that a lot needed to be done, which took a further three years, but the effort (and money) paid off as it has won a string of awards ever since 2008. It is a bigger car than the Bertone one, and that is apparently obvious if you were ever to get the chance to drive them back to back (Octane magazine did, for a feature in September 2011). Both will remind you that they have effectively got a racing engine under the bonnet, which encourages you to rev it hard. The handling and balance impress, though the ride especially of the Bertone car is somewhat firm. If only I could get the chance…….

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This one is a 1953 Lancia Aurelia B52 Vignale. Lancia launched the new Aurelia in 1950. It was a revolutionary car, gaining instant popularity with the first V6 engine produced on a large scale. Right from its introduction, Lancia made available the B50-version with a wide choice of bodies from various coachbuilders. Vignale took this opportunity enthusiastically, producing a small series of various designs, of which this is one. Production figures are unknown. Although Pininfarina took about 150 chassis from the 200 made, it is believed that Vignale produced a substantial amount of the remaining 50.  Lopresto was able to acquire this car in 2004, at which point it underwent a meticulous restoration to return it to the condition in which it is now seen.

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This is a 1956 Lancia Florida B56. When you delve into its history, you soon learn that this is a far more significant car than you might realise. It was produced by Piniinfarina. here was nothing like the Florida in his earlier work, and the maestro certainly didn’t copy it from any of his rivals in Turin, London, Milan, or Detroit. When he sprang his surprise on the world at the Turin Salone dell’Automobile in the spring of 1955, everyone was unprepared. And no one could grasp at that moment how much the Florida would influence the art of car design in years to come. If that sounds like an exaggeration, it’s not. With the Florida, Farina bid farewell to “monolithic” shapes and said hello to a new principle: body development by symmetrical juxtaposition of curved panels. Look at it this way: If older cars were sculpted, as if hewn from a lump of clay, the Florida was just the opposite. It was built like a house of cards, each card preformed to a certain aesthetic concept. The starting point was not a solid object but merely a surface. The Florida was remarkably clean for its time. The major theme was form, with a near-total absence of decoration. Horizontal emphasis was provided by the beltline, which picked up from the front bumpers and stretched into the high rear bumpers, blending with the backwards sweep of the C-post. Further strengthening the horizontal motif was a full-length sheet-metal crease just above the wheel cutouts. A hardtop coupe built in steel, the Lancia Florida also featured a wraparound windscreen and “dogleg” A-posts, prompted no doubt by the contemporary U.S. styling fad originated by General Motors. The grille was not new, being merely a variation on the flattened oval that Farina was using on so many Ferraris. Headlamps were housed within the grille frame, with smaller auxiliary lamps recessed into the front bumper tips. In proportions, the Lancia Florida was perfect for its time. The profile was long and sleek, and rear deck length was sufficient for full visual balance with the bonnet, thereby giving extra emphasis to the car’s static 50/50 unladen weight distribution. The shallow greenhouse and big wheels may look dated to modern eyes. However, those wheels — shod with Michelin X 165-400 tyres — seemed smaller than expected for a 104.3-inch-wheelbase car in 1955, and the absence of fixed B-posts counteracted the low roof, giving a definite airiness to the interior. The prototype was originally finished in two-tone paint, with white on the roof and decklid and dark blue everywhere else. We know for certain that the 1955 Lancia Florida was designed by Pininfarina himself. He worked on it with a staff of no more than 10 draftsmen and modelers at a time when his total work force numbered 340 and annual body production was only about 2,500. His closest collaborator in those days was probably Francesco Martinengo, director of Design, Research, and Quality Control. He had joined Pininfarina in 1952, leaving his post at Stabilimenti Farina (which closed its doors shortly afterward), where he had been since completing his schooling in 1934. A Lancia chassis was a natural for the Florida. The carrozzeria was already handling series production of the Aurelia B-20 GT Coupe and B-24 Spider. What’s more, the appearance of the standard Aurelia sedan, introduced in 1950, was already quite dated. Some called it odd. Actually, the Florida was nothing less than a proposal to Lancia for a new model, and it came at exactly the right time On April 2, 1955, Lancia hired a new technical director named Antonio Fessia, who wanted to effect immediate changes in the product line. Then 54, he had experience going back to 1925 in both the aeronautical and automotive sections of Fiat. In 1946, he designed a front-wheel-drive family car for Caproni that became the basis for the Lancia Flavia of 1960. He had also worked on motorcycle engines for Ducati and was a consultant to Pirelli until Fiat brought him back and put him in charge of engineering at its Heilbronn plant in Germany.. Pininfarina had built the Florida coupe on the standard Aurelia chassis. Although the high-volume models employed unit construction, Lancia also made a separate Aurelia GT platform available for low-volume applications with custom bodywork. This chassis was outstanding in many ways. Notable was its high-performance V-6 engine designed by Francesco de Virgilio, who had joined Lancia in 1939 and later became one of Vittorio Jano’s closest collaborators. Jano was Lancia’s chief engineer from 1937 to 1955, and he was as brilliant an innovator as Vincenzo Lancia himself. Front suspension was by the firm’s patented sliding-pillar system, with enclosed coil springs and integral hydraulic shock absorbers. At the rear were a de Dion axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs. But still, a four-door version was needed. Continue on to the next page to learn about its creation.  Fessia fell in love with the Florida. So did Gianni Lancia, the son of the founder, who was then running the business. Lancia wanted the Florida, but it had to have four doors. Accordingly, Fessia went to work on a new chassis. It did not take long, and by late 1955, there was a four door version available, still on the same short wheelbase platform. Pininfarina went on to build three Lancia Florida hardtop sedans as a follow-up to the initial hardtop coupe, two of which had right-hand drive. The windscreen base was moved forward and the bonnet correspondingly shortened to make room for the rear doors. Headlamps were relocated from the grille to the bumpers, with the parking lights directly below. A Ferrari-like air scoop appeared on the bonnet, and the A-posts were straightened to vertical, still with a wrapped windscreen. Like the coupe, the four-door Florida was pillarless. Doors were centre-opening, and Farina came up with a novel arrangement to make up for the lack of B-posts. When closed, the back doors locked into the fronts, and all doors also latched on the sills. Frameless sideglass precluded any roof-mounted door attachment points. Lancia had some misgivings about this arrangement, so the Flaminia emerged as a pillared sedan with full window frames and conventional front-hinged rear doors. The Flaminia was built on a 113-inch wheelbase. Power was supplied by the largest 2.5-litre version of the Aurelia V-6, detuned to 102 horsepower. Naturally it inherited the Aurelia’s front-drive transaxle, thus keeping tooling costs within strict limits. The de Dion rear suspension was retained, but Fessia departed wildly from Lancia practice by going to a new front suspension design with upper and lower A-arms and coil springs inclined at about 20 degrees from vertical Several major manufacturers had noticed the fundamental styling change represented by the original Lancia Florida and began talking to Pininfarina about doing something similar. What he did was sell a scaled-down version of the basic Flaminia design intended to accept engines of 1.5-2.0 litres. It appeared in quick succession at BMC in 1958 (Wolseley 15/60, Austin A-55 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mark III, Morris Oxford Series IV, and Riley 4/68), at Fiat in 1959 (1800 and 2100), and at Peugeot in 1960 (for the 404). The French and Italian cars stayed with big horizontal grilles. Austin and Morris used less daring ones, while the Riley and Wolseley had narrower, more traditional, vertical-bar treatments. Pronounced rear fender “fins” appeared on the British cars, which also had horizontal chrome mouldings running back from headlamp centre level and curved downward in the rear door area. More modest blades graced the Peugeot, while the Fiats’ flanks were straight.

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At the time when this 1960 Alfa Romeo 2000 Praha was produced, the Italian styling houses were at their zenith, as growing economic prosperity in Italy and elsewhere meant that there was a small but significant demand for something that little bit different from regular production vehicles, something which the major manufacturers could not afford to satisfy directly themselves. So when Touring unveiled this car, based on the 102 Series Alfa Romeo 2000, it was not the only coachbuilder to present something that looked different from the cars you would find at the local dealer. Vignale was at the same show, and they produced their own take on the Alfa 2000 and went on to build a small series of them for wealthy customers. Many will tell you, though, that the Touring offering was better looking. The car came about as Alfa had requested Carlo Felice-Anderloni of Touring to create a new Coupe based on the 2000 for the Turin Show. It was called the Praho after the fishing boats which he had seen on holiday in Thailand a few months earlier. Although the car was praised for its elegant looks, it did not persuade Alfa to switch allegiance from Bertone, who already provided the body for the production 2000 Coupe, and in a way it would have been surprising if it had, as this model and the later Sprint version created when the 102 Series became the 2600 was easily the best seller of the range. The Praho quickly faded into obscurity. Touring hung onto it until their demise in 1967 at which point it was bought by the Alfa dealer Minetti in Milan. At some point it then went to Hong Kong, and was painted silver, and then around 8 years ago, Lopresto tracked the car down and managed to buy it. At this time it still only had 700km on the clock and it was generally in excellent condition apart from the carpets, the replacement of which cost nearly as much as the car! There are plenty of other unique elements to the car, including the glass, with a concave rear screen that does much to give the car its delicate look. There’s a radical central instrument binnacle which holds all the instruments so there is nothing at all directly in front of the driver. Mechanically, the car uses the standard Alfa 2000 components, which means a 115 bhp 4 cylinder 1975cc engine, a five speed manual gearbox, all round drum brakes, and coil spring suspension. Martin Buckley had a brief drive in the car for a feature in “Classic & Sports Car” in September 2012, and he observed that the car would have made a very pleasant if not earth-shattering touring car, for those who valued style and exclusivity above ultimate handling prowess.

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This 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider prototype pre-dates the production Duetto model by 5 years. It originally arrived at Portello from Giugiaro at Bertone looking very like the Giulia GT which would be produced 2 years later, but Alfa Centro Stile did not like the “step front” treatment and got Tino Cattoneto to rework both front and rear ends. They ended up building Pininfarina’s Duetto Spider instead, but they clearly did like some elements of Giugiaro’s design as the original nose and tail shape were reinstated for the Coupe and the original convertible design surfaced a few years later as the GTC.

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Although this is a rare car, it is not a one-off like most of the other cars from Lopresto’s collection. 128 of these OSCA 1600GT Touring were made in the early 1960s by the Maserati brothers. Built using Touring’s Superleggera technique and with a body style that was mainly by Zagato (though some were done by Fissore, Boneschi and Vignale), this car is little known these days. This particular example was the 1961 Turin Show car.

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The front of this might look more or less like the production Lancia Flavia Coupe, but the rear end is very different, and you quickly realised that it is not what you think it is, Again, this is a one-off, penned by Tom Tjaarda during his time at Pininfarina. Named the Flaminia 3C Speciale. The car was produced for the 1963 Turin Motor Show. By this time, the flagship Flaminia had been on sale for over 5 years, and interest was waning, so this car, only ever intended to be a one-off was an attempt to revive interest and grab some potential customers’ attention. It certainly gained many plaudits when it was shown, resplendent in its white paint with a black leather interior. The front did indeed resemble the smaller Flavia Coupe which had been shown two years earlier, but the sides had a different line and the rear wing was slightly raised. The roof was supported by four very slender pillars, and the elongated tail ended with angular rear lights. large enveloping single-edged bumpers and chrome beading beneath the doors combined to make the car look lighter. The car was shown a number of times in 1964 and 1965 and eventually became Battista Piniinfarina’s personal transport. It was eventually sold in 1972 to an American anaesthetist  called Richard Buckingham for $4200. He was the President of the Lancia Club in the US, so he took the car to numerous events including the 1989 Pebble Beach concours, so unlike many concours cars, this one did not simply “disappear”. Soon after, though, it headed off to Japan and a collector called Yoshiho Matsuda who returned the car to white, it having been painted silver after Lancia had sold it. In 2003 it became part of the David Cohen collection. By 2008, when it had still only covered 19,000 km, it was purchased by Jules Heumann, for many years the Co-President of the Pebble Beach event. In 2011, Corrado Lopresto managed to buy it, to add to his stable of interesting and one-off Italian cars.

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One of the less well known cars from the collection was this 1973 Autobianchi A112 Giovani, a fun concept that was probably 20 years ahead of its time in terms of offering a small stylish and not totally practical car. Perhaps motivated by the unexpected success of the Citroën Méhari, Pininfarina set off to design a lightweight multi-purpose vehicle powered by a Fiat-sourced drivetrain in the early 1970s, and the Autobianchi A112 Giovani that debuted at the 1973 Geneva Motor Show was the result. As its name clearly implies – giovani means “young” in Italian – the car was aimed primarily at younger buyers in the market for a fun and economical car they could commute in on weekdays and take to the beach on the weekend. Pininfarina started with a chassis borrowed from the Autobianchi A112, an affordable and efficient front-wheel drive city car introduced across Europe in 1969. The A112 was one of the Fiat Group’s best-selling models so parts were cheap and readily available in Italy. The coachbuilder’s designers drew a boxy body with a relatively high belt line, a roll bar integrated into the B-pillars and large wheel arches. Stretching about 129 inches long, the car was characterised by plastic bumpers integrated into the body (a highly futuristic design cue in the early 1970s), a radiator grille shaped like the Autobianchi logo and a removable roof panel. The Giovani’s overall silhouette was modern for the era and in many ways it resembled cars launched ten years later. To keep the cost of producing the car as low as possible, Pininfarina made the A112 Giovani’s body out of composite plastics and did not fit the car with an opening trunk lid. Instead, the trunk was accessed via the passenger compartment. The Spartan theme continued inside the car, where the three-spoke steering wheel and the five analog gauges were sourced straight from the A112 parts bin. With room for up to two passengers, the Giovani’s cockpit featured a plastic dashboard and seats crafted from a combination of metal and a semi-soft plastic often found on boats. Pininfarina fully intended on producing the Giovani so it went to great lengths to make sure the concept was fully functional. Mounted transversally over the front axle was a 982cc water-cooled four-cylinder engine borrowed from the A112 Abarth that sent 58 horsepower and 54 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. Performance figures were never published but acceleration must have been fairly brisk considering the car’s low weight of 1,455 pounds. The A112 Giovani generated a positive response in Geneva from both show-goers and the press but Pininfarina never took the car past the show car stage for reasons that remain largely unknown. The only example built is this one.

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Perhaps the most dramatic of the lot was this, the Bertone Sibilo. Based on a Lancia Stratos, this 1978 creation very nearly never made its planned debut at the 1978 Turin Show owing to the threat of anarchy loomed in the country, and armed guards had to protect the entrance to the Show, a reflection of the political instability that was Italy in the late 70s. Although this is a Lancia underneath, the car was produced only with tacit approval by the firm rather than any clearly declared support or statement that they had commissioned it. Bertone bought a Stratos, a full-house competition spec model that they acquired second-hand from Lancia Squadra Corsa, which would form the basis of the car. That such a car could be destroyed now seems like an act of sacrilege, but back in 1977/78, the focus had shifted to the Abarth 131 as the firm’s rally car and works involvement with the Stratos had ended in 1977. Stradale versions were proving hard to sell, so when someone offered to buy a car, Lancia were not going to refuse! The platform of the donor car was extended, with 3.9 inches inserted into the wheelbase, but otherwise the Stratos underpinnings remained unchanged. All the drama comes on top with that dramatic looking body which was styled by Marcello Gandini. Is is completely formed from steel, and what Bertone was really trying to showcase here was how to integrate this with the car’s glasshouse with no obvious dividing lines. It did not quite work, and Bertone were forced to resort of some tinted clear plastic panels that were glued into shallow grooves in the shell, then finishing the joints with an elasticated sealant. The very brown paint that was then applied inside and out merges the body colour with the window tints so that only the faintest of hairline cracks are obvious where the glazing merges with the coachwork. Thanks to the Stratos underpinnigs, the car is not just a static object, but can of course be driven, though visibility is – not surprisingly – something of a challenge. It is also not an easy car to photograph! Bertone claimed that the car featured deformable structures and complied with all relevant safety regulations of the time. In other respects it was a little less practical, with the entire back end needing two people to lift it for access to anything other than service items for which a service window was provided, There was never any suggestion of producing the car, even in small quantities, so it was to remain a one-off. The Sibilo made a number of show appearances in the late 70s before being consigned to Bertone’s museum. It was one of half a dozen cars that was offered for sale in 2011 to appease the receivers, which is when Lopresto was able to buy it and to his credit, he has shown it several times in the last few years.

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The three-wheeled Darmonts, manufactured in Courbevoie, near Paris, are the models for which this brand is best known. They were made under license from Morgan by brothers Robert and Andrew Darmont, who began by importing the vehicles from the English brand. Far less well known, though is this Type V Junior. A successor  to the early cars, but now with four wheels, it was  launched in 1934, built on a similar mechanical base, having been developed to meet the shortcomings of the three-wheeled version. It was technically quite similar, with a V-twin engine of 1100cc at the front, mated to a three-speed gearbox. This Darmont Junior enjoyed a high quality restoration several years ago and was offered for auction by Artcurial.

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Remembered now, perhaps, for the name given to a rear axle, the De Dion made some of France’s earliest cars. This Bouton Type R model dates from 1903. De Dion-Bouton was a French automobile and railcar manufacturer operating from 1883 to 1932. The company was founded in 1881 by the Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, Georges Bouton, and Bouton’s brother-in-law Charles Trépardoux after De Dion saw a toy locomotive in a store window and asked the toymakers to build another. Engineers Bouton and Trépardoux had been making a starvation living on scientific toys at a shop in the Passage de Léon, close to the “rue de la Chapelle” in Paris. Trépardoux had long dreamed of building a steam car, but neither could afford it. De Dion, already inspired by steam, though in the form of rail locomotives, and with plenty of money, agreed, and De Dion, Bouton et Trépardoux was formed in Paris in 1883. This became the De Dion-Bouton automobile company, the world’s largest automobile manufacturer for a time, becoming well known for their quality, reliability, and durability. Before 1883 was over they had set up shop in larger premises in the Passage de Léon, Paris, tried and dropped steam engines for boats, and produced a steam car. With the boiler and engine mounted at the front, driving the front wheels by belts and steering with the rear, it burned to the ground on trials. They built a second, La Marquise, the next year, with a more conventional steering and rear-wheel drive, capable of seating four. The Marquis de Dion entered one of these in an 1887 trial, “Europe’s first motoring competition”, the brainchild of one M. Fossier of cycling magazine Le Vélocipède. Evidently, the promotion was insufficient, for the De Dion was the sole entrant, but it completed the course, with de Dion at the tiller, and was clocked at 60 km/h (37 mph).This must be taken with considerable care; the first official land speed record, set in 1898, was 63.15 km/h (39.24 mph). The vehicle survives, in road-worthy condition, and has been a regular entry in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Following this singular success, the company offered steam tricycles with boilers between the front wheels and two-cylinder engines. They were built in small numbers, evidently a favourite of young playboys, before being joined by a larger tractor, able to pull trailers (what has been called a “steam drag”). This larger vehicle introduced the so-called De Dion or “dead” axle; an axle beam carried the weight of the vehicle with the non weight-bearing driveshafts or drive chains articulated separately alongside it.(footnote: The live axle carries the weight by a rigid tube around the driveshaft, both parts fastened together.) On July 22,1894, Paris–Rouen race, it averaged 18.7 km/h (11.6 mph) over the 126 km (78 mile) route, but was disqualified for needing both a driver and a stoker. Two more cars were made in 1885 followed by a series of lightweight two-cylinder tricars, which from 1892 had Michelin pneumatic tyres. In 1893, steam tractors were introduced which were designed to tow horse type carriages for passengers or freight (sometimes called “steam drags”) and these used an innovative axle design which would become known as the De Dion tube,where the location and drive function of the axle are separated. The company manufactured steam buses and trucks until 1904. Trepardoux, staunchly supporting steam, resigned in 1894 as the company turned to internal combustion vehicles. The steam car remained in production more or less unchanged for ten years more.Already by 1889, de Dion was becoming convinced the future lay in the internal combustion engine, and the company had even built a ten-cylinder two-row rotary. After Trépardoux resigned in 1894, the company became De Dion, Bouton et Compagnie. For 1895, Bouton created a new 137 cc one-cylinder engine with trembler coil ignition. Proving troublesome at its designed speed of 900 rpm (throwing bearings and running rough),when Bouton increased the revs, the problems vanished; in trials, it hit an unheard of 3500 rpm, and was usually run at 2,000 rpm, a limit imposed by its atmospheric valves and surface carburettor. Both inlet and exhaust valves were overhead and a flywheel was fitted to each end of the crankshaft. This engine was fitted behind the rear axle of a tricycle frame bought in from Decauville, fitted with the new Michelin pneumatic tires. It showed superb performance, and went on the market in 1896 with the engine enlarged to 1¼ CV 185 cc, with 1¾ CV in 1897. By the time production of the petite voiture tricar stopped in 1901, it had 2¾ CV, while racers had as much as 8 CV, In 1898, Louis Renault had a De Dion-Bouton modified with fixed drive shaft and ring and pinion gear, making “perhaps the first hot rod in history”. The same year, the tricar was joined by a four-wheeler and in 1900 by a vis a vis voiturette, the Model D, with its 3¾ CV 402 cc single-cylinder engine under the seat and drive to the rear wheels through a two-speed gearbox. This curious design had the passenger facing the driver, who sat in the rear seat. The voiturette had one inestimable advantage: the expanding clutches of the gearbox were operated by a lever on the steering column. The Model D was developed through Models E, G, I, and J, with 6 CV by 1902, when the 8 CV Model K rear-entry phaeton appeared, with front-end styling resembling the contemporary Renault. Until World War I, De Dion-Boutons had an unusual decelerator pedal which reduced engine speed and ultimately applied a transmission brake. In 1902, the Model O introduced three speeds, which was standard for all De Dion-Boutons in 1904. A small number of electric cars were also made in 1901. In 1900, De Dion-Bouton was the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, producing 400 cars and 3,200 engines. The company soon began producing engines and licences for other automobile companies with an estimate of 150 makes using them. Production was so great, it proved impossible to test every engine; if it failed on the bench, it was simply disassembled. Every engine was being made by hand; the assembly line had not yet been introduced. By 1904 some 40,000 engines had been supplied across Europe. That year, De Dion-Bouton’s factory at Quai National (now Quai de Dion-Bouton), Puteaux, employed 1,300 and produced more than 2,000 cars, all also by hand. The engine moved to the front in 1903 in the Populaire with 700 or 942 cc engines, the latter being powerful enough to allow trucks to be added to cars, and by the end of the year reverse gear had also appeared. It was joined by the 6 CV  864 cc Types N and Q (the latter a low-priced K), the 8 CV R, and their first multi-cylinder model, the two-cylinder 1728 cc  12CV S, followed in 1904 by the four-cylinder 2,545 cc 15 CV Type AD and 24 CV AI. The cars were also getting more and more conventional in styling, with the radiator moving in front of the engine and the clutch changing from hand lever to a pedal. The firm continued to produce cars until 1932.

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One of the oldest vehicles at the show, this is an 1899 Delahaye Type 1, making it 116 years old and in extraordinary original condition. It was bought Sptember 1st 1899 by Swiss entrepreneur François Borel from Neuchatel. It was one of the first automobiles in Switzerland. Shortly after buying the car, Borel undertook a journey of 1800 km in his new car through Switzerland and France. He used 190 litres of fuel, 10 litres of oil and 500 g of grease. This car has since completed many London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs. The Delahaye Type 1 was first introduced at 1895 Paris Motor Show. In 1896, two Delahaye Type 1 participated in the 1710 km Paris-Marseille-Paris. 32 automobiles were entered in this race and only 14 completed  the distance including the two Delahaye Type 1, finishing in 7th and 10th position in some 84 hours at average speed near 20 kph.

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Perhaps rather better known was this Type 135M Chapron Cabriolet which was on Lukas Hüni’s stand.

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There were a number of other Delahaye models on display including a 175M Cabrio and a Berline

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There were two different De Tomaso models here, both offered for sale. Earlier of the two was a Mangusta. This model replaced the little known and rarely seen  Vallelunga model, on which its chassis was based. The word “mangusta” is Italian for “mongoose”, an animal that can kill cobras. It is rumoured that the car was so named because De Tomaso had some talks with Carroll Shelby to replace the Shelby Cobra with a racing car to be built in Italy by the Argentine-born De Tomaso (“De Tomaso Sport 5000” a.k.a. “De Tomaso P70”), but no deal was signed since Shelby became involved in the Ford GT40 racing program. Nevertheless, Alejandro de Tomaso and Carroll Shelby were friends and business is business, so it is also rumoured that the first handful of engines for the Mangusta may have come from Shelby. Originally fitted with Ford 289 V8 engine mid-mounted 306 hp for Europe and in the North American market the Mangusta was introduced with a Ford 302 V8 engine 221 hp unit driving through a 5-speed ZF transaxle. Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the car, which is easily recognised by its gull wing doors over the engine and luggage compartment. All round disc brakes and independent suspension, rack & pinion steering, air conditioning, and power windows, were ahead of other manufacturers of the time. Journalist Paul Frère claimed he achieved a top speed of 155 mph. The Mangusta was relatively inexpensive for the time but, with a 32/68 weight distribution and a less than solid chassis, suffered from stability problems and poor handling. The car was also cramped and had extremely low ground clearance.  401 Mangustas were built, about 150 of them in  European spec, with the remainder for the North American market.  With the 1970 model USA destined cars were produced with 2 headlamp pop-up, an estimated 50 cars were produced in this configuration. One car was built with a Chevrolet engine for General Motors-Vice President, Bill Mitchell. There are reported to be approximately 250 of the 401 cars left in existence, according to the three available registries.

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The Mangusta was replaced by the much cheaper-to-build De Tomaso Pantera in 1971, which was designed by the American  Tom Tjaarda. Unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel backbone chassis, the Pantera was a steel monocoque design, the first instance of De Tomaso using this construction technique. The Pantera logo included a version of Argentina’s flag turned on its side with a T-shaped symbol that was the brand used by De Tomaso’s Argentinian cattle ranching ancestors. The car made its public debut in Modena in March 1970 and was presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show a few weeks later. Approximately a year later the first production Panteras were sold, and production was increased to three per day. The curious slat-backed seats which had attracted comment at the New York Show were replaced by more conventional body-hugging sports-car seats in the production cars: leg-room was generous but the pedals were off-set and headroom was insufficient for drivers above approximately 6 ft. Reflecting its makers’ transatlantic ambitions, the Pantera came with an abundance of standard features which appeared exotic in Europe, such as electric windows, air conditioning and even “doors that buzz when … open”.  By the time the Pantera reached production, the interior was in most respects well sorted, although resting an arm on the central console could lead to inadvertently activating the poorly located cigarette lighter. The first 1971 Panteras were powered by a Ford 5.8 litre V8 engine that produced a severely underrated 330 hp. Stock dynos over the years proved that power was more along the lines of about 380 hp. The high torque provided by the Ford engine reduced the need for excessive gear changing at low speeds: this made the car much less demanding to drive in urban conditions than many of the locally built competitor products. The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also used for the Pantera: a passenger in an early Pantera recorded that the mechanical noises emanating from the transaxle were more intrusive than the well restrained engine noise. Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were all standard equipment on the Pantera. In the summer of 1971, a visitor to the De Tomaso plant at Modena identified two different types of Pantera awaiting shipment, being respectively the European and American versions. From outside, the principal differences were the larger tail lamps on the cars destined for America, along with addition of corner marker lamps. The visitor was impressed by the large number of cars awaiting shipment; in reality, spending the best part of a year under dust covers in a series of large hangars probably did nothing for the cash-flow of the business or the condition of some of the cars by the time they crossed the Atlantic. Late in 1971, Ford began importing Panteras for the American market to be sold through its Lincoln Mercury dealers. The first 75 cars were simply European imports and are known for their “push-button” door handles and hand-built Carrozzeria Vignale bodies. A total of 1,007 Panteras reached the United States that first year. These cars were poorly built, and several Panteras broke down during testing on Ford’s test track. Early crash testing at UCLA showed that safety cage engineering was not very well understood in the 1970s. Rust-proofing was minimal on these early cars, and the quality of fit and finish was poor, with large amounts of body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Notably, Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after he flooded it and it would not start. Several modifications were made for the 1972 model year Panteras. A new 4 Bolt Main Cleveland Engine, also 351 cu in, was used with lower compression ratio (from 11:1 to 8.6:1, chiefly to meet US emissions standards and run on lower octane standard fuel) but with more aggressive camshaft timing (in an effort to reclaim some of the power lost through the reduction in compression). Many other engine changes were made, including the use of a factory exhaust header. The “Lusso” (luxury) Pantera L was also introduced, in August 1972 as a 1972½ model. It featured a large black single front bumper for the US market, rather than the separate bumperettes still used abroad, as well as a 248 hp Cleveland engine. During 1973 the dash was changed, going from two separate pods for the gauges to a unified unit with the dials angled towards the driver. The U.S. version 1974 Pantera GTS featured GTS badging but not the higher compression, solid lifter engine of its European GTS “cousin”. Ford ended their importation to the US in 1975, having sold around 5,500 cars. De Tomaso continued to build the car in ever-escalating forms of performance and luxury for almost two decades for sale in the rest of the world. A small number of Panteras was imported to the US by grey market importers in the 1980s, notably Panteramerica and AmeriSport. After 1974, Ford US discontinued the Cleveland 351 engine, but production continued in Australia until 1982. De Tomaso started sourcing their V8s from Australia once the American supplies dried up. These engines were tuned in Switzerland and were available with a range of outputs up to 355 hp. According to De Tomaso the chassis was completely revised in 1980, beginning with chassis number 9000. From May 1980 the lineup included the GT5, which had bonded and riveted-on fibreglass wheelarch extensions and from November 1984 the GT5S model which had blended arches and a distinctive wide-body look. The GT5 also incorporated better brakes, a more luxurious interior, much larger wheels and tires and the fibreglass body kit also included an air dam and side skirts. Production of the wide body GT5 (and similarly equipped narrow body GTS models) continued until 1985, when the GT5-S replaced the GT5. Although the factory has not made its records available, an analysis based on Vehicle Identification Numbers by the Pantera Owners Club of America registrar has shown that fewer than 252 GT5 Panteras were likely to have been built. The GT5-S featured single piece flared steel fenders instead of the GT5’s riveted-on fibreglass flares, and a smaller steel front air dam. The ‘S’ in the GT5-S name stood for “steel”. Otherwise the GT5-S was largely identical to the GT5. The POCA 9000 series registrar’s VIN analysis indicates that fewer than 183 GT5-S Panteras were built. Concurrent GTS production continued, on a custom order and very limited basis, until the late 1980s. The car continued to use a Ford V8 engine, although in 1988, when the supply of Ford 351 Cleveland engines from Australia ran out, De Tomaso began installing Ford 351 Windsor engines in the Pantera instead. For 1990 the 351 was changed to the Ford 302 cu in (4942 cc, commonly called a “5.0”). Incorporating a Marcello Gandini facelift, suspension redesign, partial chassis redesign and the new, smaller engine, the Pantera 90 Si model was introduced in 1990. Only 38 90 Si models were sold before the Pantera was finally phased out in 1993 to make way for the radical, carbon-fibre-bodied Guarà. Some say 41 were built (with the last one not finished until 1996), of which four were targa models. The targas were converted by Pavesi directly off the production lines. In all, about 7,200 Panteras were built. Seen here is a 1973 GTS model.

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Founded by Jean Daninos in 1939, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loir (FACEL) specialised in manufacturing aircraft components and metal furniture. After the war the company supplied car bodies to Panhard, Simca and Ford France before branching out into automobile manufacture in its own right with the launch of the Vega at the 1954 Paris Salon. Government legislation had effectively killed off France’s few surviving luxury car manufacturers after WW2 but that did not deter Daninos in his bold attempt to revive what had once been a great French motoring tradition. A luxurious Grande Routière, the Vega took its name from the brightest star in the Lyra constellation and featured supremely elegant coupé bodywork welded to a tubular-steel chassis. There being no suitable French-built power unit, Daninos turned to the USA for the Vega’s Chrysler’s V8 engine, while there was a choice of push-button automatic or manual transmission. Launched in 1961 and advertised as ‘Le Coupé 4-places le plus rapide du Monde’ (‘The fastest 4-seat Coupé in the World’) the Facel II in manual-transmission form could out-accelerate two-seater rivals such as the Aston Martin DB4, Ferrari 250GT and Mercedes-Benz 3000SL. Sadly, it was destined to be the last of the V8-engined models, production ceasing in 1964 after an unsuccessful venture into engine manufacture effectively bankrupted the company. Production of the preceding HK500 amounted to only 500-or-so units between 1958 and 1961 and that of the Facel II to a mere 182. Today these rare Franco-American classics are highly sought after. As well as a nice example of a Facel Vega II, belonging to Facel Vega Owners Club vice-president Michel Revoy,  the display here also included the original body moulds for the car.

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Astonishingly, there were no fewer than five Facel Vegas consigned in two auctions which were held on the first couple of days of the event. Even more amazingly, three of these were rare Excellences which aren’t often seen at auction. The Excellence was  a glamorous, high-performance and extremely expensive luxury saloon that cost almost 4,000,000 francs, or roughly as much as four Citroën DS saloons. Standard features included power assisted steering, power brakes, air conditioning and electric windows. and the beautifully trimmed interior was always lavishly appointed and featured a vanity kit housed in a compartment at the back of the centre armrest. There were three different types of Excellence. The first ten, plus the prototype, had EX chassis numbers and 6.4 litre engines. One of these was the car that Bonhams were offering.  The second, larger batch, had chassis numbers EX1 and 5.9 and 6.3 litre Chrysler engines. These included the other two cars up for auction. And the final batch of eight cars were the EX2 chassis numbered cars, mainly distinguished by different bodywork and windscreens. Production of the Excellence ceased in June 1964 after only 156 of these magnificent automobiles had been made, by far the greater majority belonging to the ‘2nd Series. With a maximum of 360 horsepower on tap, the ‘1st Series’ Excellence was arguably the fastest of the three series produced, notwithstanding the equal or higher outputs claimed for its successors. The ultra-rare Facel Véga Excellence ‘1st Series’ is made all the more desirable by virtue of its association with film star Ava Gardner, its first owner, who took delivery directly from the factory. The last of the ten built, it was delivered in September 1958 when Ava would have been about to start work on the movie, ‘On the Beach’, co-starring with Gregory Peck. She had been signed by MGM Studios in 1941 and would appear in numerous high-profile movies from the 1950s to the 1970s, including ‘Mogambo’ (1953) for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. The car seen in the photo here, one of only 21 examples built with a manual gearbox,  was offered by Artcurial. It was sold new in 1959 to Mrs Godfrey Fowler in Monte Carlo. Delivered directly by Facel to the Principality, the car was black with red leather interior, with power-assisted steering and manual gearbox, and registered MC 1833. In 1963, the Monegasque owner sold the car to M.G. Heuze, from Paris, and the car was re-registered as 2604 PG 75. As can be seen on the current carte grise, the car was then registered 4534 UC 75 in 1967, probably when owned by M. J Fay, from Vouziers in the Ardennes, a member of the Amicale Facel club. He kept the car until 1990, when he sold it to the current owner, who, having taken part in various outings, decided to completely restore it, at the start of the 2000s. It underwent a fastidious restoration, making it one of the very best survivors out there. Estimates were that it would sell for around €200,000. The third Excellence was also auctioned by Artcurial, as part of the Baillon Collection, and was accordingly in rather poor condition.

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With many of Europe’s high end dealers present, it was no surprise to come across a lot of Ferraris  in the event, and most of them were the cars we think of as rare with the very sizeable price tags on them.

Perhaps the most valuable of all the Ferrari on show, and for sale, was this 250 GT California Spider. This car spent its first decades in the US before being in Germany for the last 23 years. With its covered headlights, in stylish black this is about as good as it gets and when looking at the record price for the SWB example at Artcurial, one could imagine the price tag on this one. Amazingly there was a second one here, on the Peter Auto stand, where it was being used to publicise the forthcoming Concours event at Chantilly in September.

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This 250 Europa dates from 1954. The 250 GT Europa was introduced alongside the 375 America at the 1953 Paris Auto Salon. This was the first road-going Ferrari identified by the 250 series nomenclature and it was also Ferrari’s first true Gran Turismo. It was the only Ferrari 250 to be powered by the Aurelio Lampredi-designed V12 engine, which was originally designated for racing use. The engine produced over 200 horsepower and could carry the Europa to speeds of 135 mph with zero-to-sixty times of under 8 seconds. Over a twelve month period, Pinin Farina bodied only 17 Europas, 16 of them were coupes. Nearly every example was sent to the United States, but Charlie Chaplin, Princess de Réthy of Belgium, and Prince Bernhard of Holland each took delivery of one. Enzo Ferrari would later become an owner.

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There were a couple of examples of the 250 GT Coupe here, one undergoing restoration (not shown) and this one. The 250 GT was the result of a desire to enter series production in order to stabilise the company’s finances, Enzo Ferrari asked Pininfarina to design a simple and classic car. After constructing the 250 GT Boano/Ellena, Pininfarina’s Grugliasco plant was expanded and the production of a new coupe could be moved back. The resulting car was introduced at Milan in 1958, and 335 nearly identical examples were built by 1960. Buyers included Prince Bertil of Sweden. The GT Coupe eschewed the fender vents for simple and clean lines and a notchback look with a panoramic rear window. The oval grille was replaced by a more traditional long narrow look with protruding headlights. Telescopic shock absorbers were also fitted instead of the Houdailles found on previous 250s, and disc brakes were added in 1960.

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There was a rare cabriolet version, too, and Axel Schuette had one on their stand.

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Perhaps the best known of the early Ferrari models and certainly the most valuable on the rare occasions that they come up for sale is the 250 GT SWB. You do get the chance to see them surprisingly often, as despite their value, the model is surprisingly popular in historic motor racing events as well as concours competitions. First seen in 1959, the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB used a short 2,400 mm (94.5 in) wheelbase for better handling. Of the 176 examples built, both steel and aluminium bodies were used in various road (“lusso”) and racing trims. Engine output ranged from 237 bhp to 276 bhp. Development of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was handled by Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, and young Mauro Forghieri, the same team that later produced the 250 GTO. Disc brakes were a first in a Ferrari GT, and the combination of low weight, high power, and well-sorted suspension made it a competitive offering. It was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October and quickly began selling and racing. The SWB Berlinetta claimed GT class of the Constructor’s Championship for Ferrari in 1961. These cars are highly prized nowadays and for good reason.

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Now starting to generate a lot more interest than used to the case is the Lusso, or more properly the 250 GT/L Lusso. This model made its debut at the 1962 Paris Auto Salon and continued in production until 1964. The Lusso is constructed from steel with aluminium opening panels mounted on a tubular steel chassis. The engine is a single overhead camshaft per bank, 3 litre V12 Colombo unit, coupled to a 4 speed gearbox. The instrument panel is unusual in that the speedometer and the rev counter are housed in a pair of large circular binnacles which protrude from the top centre of the dashboard and are angled towards the driver.  With just 350 cars produced the 250 GT/L Lusso is a very rare automobile and when these cars come up for sale, they now fetch over £1 million.

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Artcurial had a couple of 275 GTB models on their stand.

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Scattered between the various dealers were no fewer than half a dozen examples of the 365 GTB/4 “Daytona”, including one of the earlier cars with the plexi-glass front end.  First seen at the 1968 Paris Motor Show, the 365 GTB/4 is the last of the classic front engined V12 Ferrari models. Almost immediately the 365 GTB/4 gained its ‘Daytona’ moniker from Ferrari’s 1-2-3 result in the 1967 24-hour race of the same name. The Daytona’s engine and handling certainly didn’t undermine its racing nomenclature. The 4.4-litre, 4-cam V12 produced an astonishing 352bhp and, despite its 1,633kg bulk, the Daytona was billed as the fastest road car in the world. Not only was 174mph more than brisk, but crucially, it was faster than the Miura. The 5-speed gearbox was mounted at the rear for a more optimal weight distribution, and helped give the Daytona its predictable handling and solid road-holding. Like so many Ferraris of the period, the Daytona’s beautiful bodywork was designed by Pininfarina with the car built by Scaglietti. The delicate front was cleanly cut with both pop-up and Plexiglas headlight varieties. The rear slope was suggestively rakish and a Kamm tail provided further clues as to the performance of the car. The wheel arch flares, although elegant in proportion, are the only real overt notion that this car has significant pace, until you drive one!  A number of them had their roof removed in the 1980s when people wanted the far rarer GTS Spider version, but values of the cars are such now that I would hope no-one would even contemplate such an act of sacrilege again!

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There were also numerous examples of the delightfully pretty 246 GT Dino

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Successor to the Dino was the 308GTB, which was launched at the 1975 Paris Show. Designed by Pininfarina with sweeping curves and aggressive lines, the 308 has gone on to become one of the most recognised Ferraris of all time. In a first for Ferrari, the body was formed form glassfibre. This was changed to steel in 1977, which increased the weight of the car a bit. Collectors now value the early cars, a change in their perception from a few years ago, when the glassfibre cars were seen as less desirable. Fitted with a 3 litre DOHC V8 engine fed by four Webber 40DCNF Carburettors, the power output of 255bhp was sufficient to propel the 308 from 0 to 60mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 159 mph. In 1980, to meet emerging emissions legislation, the decision was taken to replace the carburettors with fuel injection, unfortunately reducing the engine output from 255 to 214 bhp, however two years later, an extra couple of valves per cylinder were added, giving “Quattrovalvole” models around 240bhp. The 308 was manufactured in both GTB and GTS (Spyder) forms from 1977 to 1985, before being replaced by the 328. Values of all types of this model have rocketed in recent years. Most of them are red, so it was quite a refreshing change to see one here that is not.

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Follow on to the Daytona was a very different car. The first mid-engined Ferrari, the 365 GT4 BB, the Berlinetta Boxer, made its debut in the autumn of 1973, hardly an auspicious time as within weeks, the Yom Kippur war and other troubles in the Gulf reduced petrol supplies even before industrial unrest made life somewhat bleak for most of the following year. The model was updated in 1976 when a larger 5 litre engine was put under the massive rear engine cover and the car took on a new name of BB512. There were examples of both of these here.

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This is a 412i, the last line a line of a series of Ferraris which ended up being the company’s longest-ever running model, managing to stay in production for 17 years. It occupied a lone place in the range throughout the 1970s and ’80s, being the company’s only front-engined road car – and the sober-suited styling suited the fact this was a Ferrari for the family man, and was – for the first time – available with an automatic transmission. Launched in 1972 as the 365 GTC 2+2, it started  out with a 4.4-litre V12, shared with the Daytona, but this grew in 1976 to 4.8-litres for the 400 and later fuel injected 400i and finally reached 5.0-litres for the 412i in 1986. Quick and fine-handling despite their size, the penalty comes at the pumps, where you can expect 10-12mpg. Most were fitted with the General Motors-sourced automatic gearbox, and until recently, were unappreciated by the wider Ferrari-loving community. Now, they’re desirable again, with the earliest 365s being in most demand, despite the last-of-the-line 412i easily being the best all-rounder.

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One of my favourite Ferraris of all time is the 288GTO. Based on the established 308 GTB model, the Ferrari GTO, as it was called (the 288 label came later and is not an official title)  made its debut at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show. It was conceived to compete in the new Group B Race series and a minimum of 200 cars were required for homologation. However, after the death of Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto in the 1986 Tour de Corse, the FIA disestablished the class, leaving just the Group A Rally championship. As a result, the 288 GTO never raced and all 272 cars built remained purely road cars. Some of the 288 GTO’s styling features were first displayed on a 308 GTB design exercise by Pininfarina shown at the 1977 Geneva Salon. This included the deep front spoiler, fender flares, rear lip spoiler, front lid radiator cooling louvres and quadruple driving lights. with its twin turbo. The GTO had a 2855cc four valve per cylinder twin turbo V8 which produced 400 hp at 7.000 rpm from its longitudinal placement behind the driver.

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There were as many as 4 examples of the F40 here. The Ferrari F40 was introduced in 1987 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the company. The 2936 cc twin turbo V8 placed longitudinally at the rear produced 478 hp at 7.000 rpm. It was designed by Ferrari and Pininfarina as a racing car suitable for driving on public roads. The sales success obliged Ferrari to extend production till 1992 and finally 1.315 F40 were built. Some cars were upgraded for racing purpose and participated in famous events like Le Mans 24 Hours.

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No sign of an F50, but there was an Enzo, the hypercar that Ferrari introduced in 2002.

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Also a rather special Ferrari from a few years later was the 599GTO. Based on the 599 GTB that was introduced in 2006, the GTO came four years later in 8 April 2010. Effectively a road-going version of the 599XX at the time Ferrari claimed that the 599 GTO was their fastest ever road car, able to lap the Fiorano test circuit in 1 minute 24 seconds, one second faster than the Ferrari Enzo. Its engine produced 661 bhp at 8250 rpm, with 460 lb·ft of torque at 6500 rpm. Ferrari claimed  the 599 GTO could reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 3.3 seconds and had a top speed of over 335 km/h (208 mph). At 1,605 kilograms (3,538 lb), the 599 GTO weighs almost 100 kg (220 lb) less than the standard GTB. Production was limited to 599 cars. Of these, approximately 125 were produced for the United States market. Only two other Ferrari models have used the GTO designation: the 1962 250 GTO and the 1984 288 GTO. Unlike the previous GTOs however, the 599 GTO was not designed for homologation in any racing series.

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This 1953 166MM Oblin was apparently at the event in 2014, where it was sold. Since then it has been repainted in a new and very attractive livery.

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The Ferrari 212 was an evolution of the most successful 166 model with slightly higher cylinder capacity. Unveiled at the 1951 Brussels Motor Show, it was offered in two specifications: the Inter, essentially a road-going Grand Touring car and the Export which, with a slightly shorter chassis, was aimed at the gentleman racer. Twenty seven Exports were produced, in Barchetta, Berlinetta, Spider and Convertible configurations. The 2.6 Litre V12 engine with triple Weber carburettors gave a peak power of 175 hp. This Car, Chassis N° 0102E,  was presented here by Fiskens. It was first purchased by Giannino Marzotto with a Touring Barchetta body. The car participated successfully at Monaco Grand Prix in 1952 and was later sold to Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox for the film ‘The Racer’. The car was adapted to fit the fictional requirements being presented in the film as a ‘Burano’. Modena based coachbuilders Autodromo were commissioned to carry out the modifications, which involved lengthening the nose, lowering the rear panels and creating dramatic side pipes.

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There was a sister model to this elsewhere in the show, another Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta by Touring, also from 1952 This car, number 0158ED, is the last 212 Export bodied byTouring. En 1952, entered privately, it finished second in the Targa Florio, and then it was seventh in the 1953 event. The also took part in the 1956 Mille Miglia, but did not finish the event.

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A more recent racing Ferrari was this Group 4 512BB Le Mans car, which was entered in 1977, but which sadly did not finish the race.

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This rather odd looking Formula 1 car is a 312 B3, dating from 1974. It is the evolution of the 312B which started its racing career in 1970. By 1973, when Ferrari were racing its immediate predecessor, the 312 B2, the car was seriously uncompetitive, so mcuh so that  the team skipped some of the races and driver Jacky Ickx, so incensed at this left the team mid way through the season. For 1974, Ferrari signed BRM drivers Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni to rebuild the team, and this new model, the 312B3, based on a prototype called the “spazzaneve” (or “snow plough”) was introduced. It only ran for one season, before the 312T came along for 1975.

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The 509 can be considered as the first mass produced Fiat small car, aimed at satisfying the needs of less wealthy motorists who nevertheless wanted a car in the early 1920s. The chassis was exhibited at the 1924 Paris Motor Show and the Fiat 509 was officially introduced at the Salone dell’Automobile during the 1925 Milan Fair. The engine was a 990 cc. in line four cylinder while the gearbox had three speeds. The overhead camshaft engine with a compression ratio of 5.35:1 produced 22 hp at 3.400 rpm. The car was produced in several different versions with saloon, two-seater, coupé, tourer and fixed head coupe bodies. The unladen weight for a saloon was announced at 795 kg (1.752 lb.). Over 90.000 cars were produced between 1925 and 1929, with the car becoming the most popular model on the Italian market. A slightly revised 509A was introduced in 1926,  with different carburettor and tyres. Sports, Taxi and Commercial versions were introduced. Club Fiat de France used one of these cars to recreate the one illustrated in the famous Gaston Lagaffe comic book stories.

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One of my favourite cars of all time, this Dino Spider sold for well over €100,000. Times are long since past when these cars were shunned as being “just a Fiat”. Now, it seems, everyone knows that the combination of Ferrari-based engine and fabulous styling makes this a real winner.

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It took until the late 1970s before Ford had a unified range across Europe. Until that time, Ford UK and Ford Germany produced their own models, and in markets where both were offered, they competed with each other. Not surprisingly, in mainland Europe, it was the German products that sold more strongly and which are more commonly seen at classic car events. However, the British cars are not completely unknown or unappreciated. Early in the 60s, Ford decided that one way to try to transform their image would be to enter their cars into motorsport, and tis led to some road cars that were far better to drive than the rather stodgy products that they had hitherto offered. They went a stage further with their Cortina model, of course, partnerning with Lotus’ Colin Chapman to create the legendary Lotus-Cortina. Launched in 1963, this car was like nothing else which had been produced, not just with a Ford badge, but by anyone else at that price point. The car remains popular both in historic motorsport and as a road car and the joke is that the survival rate is now well in excess of 100%, many having been created from the shell of the more mundane models. This 1965 car, offered at auction by Artcurial is an original Lotus-Cortina model.

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The same extraordinary survival rate applies to the rear wheel drive Escorts, as these cars are popular as relatively low cost motor sports cars. The famous ex works cars fetch big money when they are offered for sale, of course, but there are plenty of others with less of a competition history and more modest price tags.

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The Americans took a different approach to their image in the 1960s, of course. This is a Mustang GT350 Shelby, a popular upgrade to the classic first generation Mustang with a larger engine and more power than the early production cars.

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As well as the nearly perfect reproduction of the Le Mans 66 winning GT40 MKI that was shown with the other Shelby cars as a tribute to their late creator, there was another nice example of the Ford GT40, the car that Ford produced to try to defeat Ferrari, after Enzo had refused to sell his company to the Blue Oval.

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One of those long forgotten French marques that you only ever see at an event like this, this is a 1954 Grégoire Sport Cabriolet model. The Grégoire was a luxury car produced from 1950 to 1954 by the French automaker Hotchkiss. Only about 247 were produced, with serial numbers 500 to 747. The standard car was a modern-looking four-door saloon, but, reportedly as a response to disappointing sales for the saloon, special-bodied coach-built coupé and cabriolet versions also appeared at the 1952 Paris Motor Show, including a streamlined Grégoire-based coupé with an eye-catching ‘panoramic’ rear window bodied by the coachbuilder Henri Chapron.

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Shown alongside it was a 2 cylinder 232cc 4 speed 1956 Monet-Goyon motorcycle.

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More intriguing was this CGE Tudor. An electric car, made in 1941, with a Hotchkiss body, it generated a heady 4 hp which was enough to give it a top speed of just 58 km/h. 20 of them were made.

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In similar vein, of thinking about alternative technology, was this gas turbine powered 1952 Socema Grégoire, which was exhibited at the 1952 Paris Motor Show. It was commissioned by the French Government as part of an effort to develop technologies for the future. During World War II some airplanes from the U.S.A., England and Germany had utilised gas turbines in place of conventional piston engines, whereas France had had to purchase its gas turbine from abroad. The French Government commissioned CEM and Socema to develop gas turbine and their applications, mindful of the fact that in the UK, Rover had already unveiled their Jet 1 gas turbine powered prototype. Socema developed a 100 hp kerosene powered gas turbine with two shafts which generated 100 bhp at 25,000 rpm and had a 4 speed Cotal gearbox . Engineer Jean Albert Grégoire developed the car that was made with the support of Hotchkiss – who provided the body – and Pechiney. Two of the main challenges were fuel consumption and braking. The Socema Grégoire was never officially tested for performance. Needless to say, it is unique.

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Introduced at the 1919 Paris Salon, the Hispano-Suiza H6B was a revelation. Designed by the brilliant Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt, it drew heavily on the company’s World War I aero-engine building experiences. Thus, its in-line six was constructed principally from aluminium with threaded steel cylinder liners and a seven-bearing crankshaft. Utilising a single overhead camshaft to operate its valve gear, it eschewed magneto ignition in favour of a twin coil / twin distributor set-up. Displacing 6,597cc via its 100mm bore x 140mm stroke, this highly advanced powerplant developed 135bhp at 3,000 rpm (or over twice the horsepower of a pre-war Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost). Mated in unit to a three-speed manual gearbox, it drove the rear wheels via a spiral bevel differential. Noted for its high-speed stability, the H6’s ladder frame chassis boasted all round semi-elliptic leaf sprung suspension and servo-assisted four wheel drum brakes. Weighing just 24cwt 67lb all-up (including fluids), Autocar were further compelled to comment “It is not any exaggeration to state that this six-cylinder Hispano-Suiza is one of the most lively cars ever produced. It may not be the fastest, but, for rapidity of acceleration up to, say fifty miles an hour, it is doubtful if any racing car can approach it”. Precursor to such fabulous machines as the Duesenberg Model J, Bentley Speed Six and Bugatti Type 46, the H6 was both light and agile to drive. Fearsomely expensive, it nevertheless found favour with such well-heeled sporting motorists as Woolf Barnato, Andre Dubonnet, Count Louis Zborowski, Sir Henry Seagrave, Whitney Straight, Glen Kidston and Montague Graham-White. This particular car, dating from 1926 is the car which belonged to Count Zborowski, and is an H6 D Dual Cowl Tourer.

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Hotchkiss cars were made between 1903 and 1955 by the French company Hotchkiss et Cie in Saint-Denis, Paris. The badge for the marque showed a pair of crossed cannons, evoking the company’s history as an arms manufacturer. The company’s first entry into car making came from orders for engine components such as crankshafts which were supplied to Panhard et Levassor, De Dion-Bouton and other pioneering companies and in 1903 they went on to make complete engines. Encouraged by two major car distributors, Mann & Overton of London and Fournier of Paris, Hotchkiss decided to start making their own range of cars and purchased a Mercedes Simplex for inspiration and Georges Terasse, previously of Mors, was taken on as designer. The first Hotchkiss car, a 17 CV four-cylinder model, appeared in 1903. When production resumed post the First World War, the company embarked on a “one-model” policy, but this did not last for that long before the firm diversified and started to produce a number of different cars again. A completely new range arrived in 1933 and with it, a new naming system. The 411 was an 11CV model with four-cylinder engine, the 413 a 13CV four and the 615, 617 and 620 were similar six-cylinder types. The 1936 686, which replaced the 620, was available as the high-performance Grand Sport and 1937 Paris-Nice with twin carburettors and these allowed Hotchkiss to win the Monte Carlo Rally in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1939, 1949 and 1950. The naming scheme changed again in 1936, now consisting of  the number of cylinders, followed by the bore of the engine (in millimetres. This car comes from that time in the marque’s history, It is a 1938 Hotchkiss 864 Vichy. The Vichy model was sold in 13, 17 and 20CV versions , along with the Chantilly Limousine, which was available in standard LWB form as well as the PNLl version, which stood for Pars Nice Longue. Hotchkiss made cars for a further few years after WW2, before acquisition by the Delahaye organisation in 1954 and the end of car production a year later.

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The Grifo is the best known of the small number of different models produced by ISO in the 1960s and early 70s. The prototype ‘Grifo A3/L’ was revealed at the Turin show in 1963 to overwhelming approval. First production Iso Grifo’s followed and all used reassembled and blueprinted Chevrolet Corvette 5.4 litre engines until a 7.0 litre option was introduced in 1968. The larger engined cars were distinguished by some detail modifications, such as a “subtle” bonnet scoop, necessary to accommodate the taller engine and a black band across the rear roof pillar. 322 Series I Grifos were produced before the design received a facelift in 1972 after which time a further 78 Series II Grifo’s were built. In total 90 Grifos were specified in seven-litre form, with only four being built in right-hand drive. The 7 litre cars had a 454 cubic inch Chevrolet V8 engine, and following a rebuild, this car recorded dynamometer results of 490bhp at 5,500rpm. The engine is mated to a modern Tremec TKO600 five-speed gearbox capable of handling this mighty power house. The car seen here is one of the early 5.4 litre models.

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Asked to recall Jaguar’s Group C racing efforts, most people would think of Le Mans and that iconic purple and white Silk Cut livery. But there’s another far less well known side to Jaguar’s 24 hour glory, and that was represented by the XJR-9 seen here. This is car number 388, one of three which ran in IMSA, and one of two cars created specifically for Jaguar’s US campaign by TWR. The first such car built, number 188, was created from a World Sports Car Championship car used in the 1986 season, and although it did see race action in the US, its prime role was as a development machine and to serve as a spare. The first of the pure-bred IMSA cars, chassis number 288 scored Jaguar’s car Daytona 24 Hours win in 1988 and finished second in 1990, but then rather be mothballed or stuffed in a museum, it was converted in the spring of 1990 to World Sports Car spec, painted in Silk Cut livery and entered in that year’s Le Mans 24 hours race, which it would go on to win. That means that this one, chassis 388, is the only car left in US spec. With a pair of consecutive podium finishes in the Sebring 12 Hours (second in 1989 and third in 1990) and a fistful of other IMSA podiums, it remains one of the most significant Jaguar sports prototypes of all time. After taking part in the Daytona 24 Hours of 1991, it was retired from racing and has starred in a number of collections, mostly recently the Group C stable of Henry Pearman, but he has decided that it will move on from his custody and the car will be offered for auction at RM’s Amelia Island sale in March 2015. The car has not been raced since that 1991 retirement from active service, but nor has it been idle. It was reunited with the man who raced it when new, Andy Wallace, for a feature in the February 2015 issue of “Octane” magazine where Richard Meaden was able not just to drive it for himself but also to record some of Andy’s recollections of what it was like to race the car along with 55 others on a circuit that was only 3.5 miles around, with – thanks to the numerous classes of cars taking – a far greater speed differential between some of the cars on the banking, and where his biggest challenge as well as getting past these slower cars and trying to beat the three Porsche models competing was also to try to beat team mate Martin Brundle. With fuel stops every hour, and a surface that was very hard on tyres, quite apart from the fact that the race takes pace in January and overnight the temperatures sink close to freezing whereas in he middle of the day it was around 30° C, there were plenty of challenges of strategy and endurance as well as skill required of the drivers as well as the innate characteristics of the car. Le Mans cars had a 7 litre V12 engine, but in IMSA spec, the capacity was reduced to a  6 litre V12, which developed 670 bhp at 7500rpm, transmitted through a five speed manual gearbox and steered with a set up with no power assistance. Weighing around 850kg, the car had a top speed of around 245 mph. Coming off the banking at over 200 mph and heading into the pits at around 185 mph and accelerating until spotting their own pit, stops with a driver change could be accomplished in just 12 seconds. It took a special kind of brave (or mad!) to succeed . Jaguar’s drivers of these car were clearly up for the task!

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There were a number of  E Types and the earlier XK140 and XK150s to be seen one of the dealer stands.

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Oldest Lamborghini here was an example of the 400GT, offered for sale. The first 400 GTs were essentially just the older 350GT featuring an enlarged, 3929 cc V12 engine, with a power output of 320 bhp and recognised by the change to twin circular headlights from rectangular units. Twenty-three of these cars were built, with three featuring aluminium bodywork, and then at the 1966 Geneva Show, Lamborghini presented a revised version, called the 400 GT 2+2, which had a different roofline, and minor sheetmetal changes compared to the earlier cars, still with the Carrozzeria Touring bodywork. The larger body shape enabled the +2 seating to be installed in the rear, where the 350GT only had room for luggage or +1 seating, without changing the wheelbase. The 400 GT 2+2 also had a Lamborghini designed gearbox, with Porsche style synchromesh on all gears, which greatly improved the drivetrain.  224 examples of the 400 GT 2+2 were built from 1966 to 1968, when it was replaced with the Islero.

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Thought by many to be the first true “supercar”, the Miura P400, first seen at the 1966 Turin Show, is still a real show stopper, with amazing looks complemented by a thunderous transversely mounted 3.9 litre V12, as had been used in the 400GT, which produced 350 hp. The early Miuras were known as the P400, and 275 of them were made between 1966 and 1969. There were a couple of these stunning cars offered for sale.

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This is a Jarama, the car which first appeared in 1970, as the replacement for the Islero. The Islero had quite a short production life, but needed amending to meet new United States safety and emissions regulations. So instead of just  redesigning the Islero, Lamborghini made the Jarama, which could be thought of as a Mark 2 Islero, though it looked quite different, with a new body, styled by Gandini that looks not unlike the one he produced for the Iso Lele, one of the Lamborghini’s market rivals. Compared to the Islero, the Jarama’s chassis was shortened only by 10.7 inches, being built on a shortened version of the same platform as the Espada. Even though the Jarama was heavier than the Islero, it had the same top speed. Two different models were made, the original GT, from 1970–1973, having a 350 bhp V12, and the GTS (also known as Jarama S), made between 1972–1976, with its output upped to 365 bhp  Also, with the GTS there were a few minor body modifications, redesigned interior dashboard, power assisted steering, removable roof panels, and an automatic transmission became available as options. Ferruccio Lamborghini was concerned the car would be thought to be named after the Jarama racing circuit near Madrid, while he meant the car to be named for the Jarama bullfighting region in Spain. In this way it carries a special double meaning. A total of 328 Jaramas were built, 176 of them the GT.

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The Countach first made an appearance, as a concept in 1971, but it was 1973 before the production car made its debut, and despite unfortunate timing with fuel shortages and a recession, the car sold well throughout its production life. The Countach entered production as the LP400 with a 3929 cc engine delivering 370 hp. The first production Countach was delivered to an Australian in 1974. Externally, little had altered from the final form of the prototype except at the rear, where conventional lights replaced the futuristic light clusters of the prototype. The styling had become rather more aggressive than Gandini’s original conception, with the required large air scoops and vents to keep the car from overheating, but the overall shape was still very sleek. The original LP400 rode on the quite narrow tyres of the time, but their narrowness and the slick styling meant that this version had the lowest drag coefficient of any Countach model. The emblems at the rear simply read “Lamborghini” and “Countach”, with no engine displacement or valve arrangement markings as is found on later cars. By the end of 1977, the company had produced 158 Countach LP400s. In 1978, a new LP400 S model was introduced. Though the engine was slightly downgraded from the LP400 model (350hp), the most radical changes were in the exterior, where the tyres were replaced with much wider Pirelli P7 units, and fibreglass wheel arch extensions were added, giving the car the fundamental look it kept until the end of its production run. An optional V-shaped spoiler was available over the rear deck, which, while improving high-speed stability, reduced the top speed by at least 16 km/h (10 mph). Most owners ordered the wing. The LP400 S handling was improved by the wider tyres, which made the car more stable in cornering. Aesthetically, some prefer the slick lines of the original, while others prefer the more aggressive lines of the later models, beginning with the LP400 S. The standard emblems (“Lamborghini” and “Countach”) were kept at the rear, but an angular “S” emblem was added after the “Countach” on the right side. 1982 saw another improvement, this time giving a bigger, more powerful 4754 cc engine. The bodywork was unaltered, however the interior was given a refresh. This version of the car is sometimes called the 5000 S, which may cause confusion with the later 5000 QV. 323 of these cars were built. In 1985 the engine design evolved again, as it was bored and stroked to 5167 cc and given four valves per cylinder—quattrovalvole in Italian, hence the model’s name, Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole or 5000 QV in short. The carburettors were moved from the sides to the top of the engine for better breathing—unfortunately this created a hump on the engine deck, reducing the already poor rear visibility to almost nothing. Some body panels were also replaced by Kevlar. In later versions of the engine, the carburettors were replaced with fuel injection. Although this change was the most notable on the exterior, the most prominent change under the bonnet was the introduction of fuel injection, with the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, providing 414 bhp), rather than the six Weber carburettors providing 455 bhp used in the previous carburettor models. As for other markets, 1987 and 1988 model Quattrovalvoles received straked sideskirts. 610 cars were built. Final model type was the Anniversary. Named to honour the company’s twenty-fifth anniversary, in 1988, the 25th Anniversary Countach, although mechanically very similar to the 5000QV, sported considerable restyling. Notably, restyling, enlargement and extension of the rear ‘air-box’ intake-ducts was among other refinements undertaken (extending them to a more gradual incline further in-keeping with aerodynamic-streamlining), while the secondary pair of debossed ducts, originally situated further behind them, were brought forward and relocated directly on top, encompassing refashioned fins now running longitudinally rather than transversely. Additionally, further reconstruction of an already modified engine-bay cover, from a concept consisting of dual-raised sections and tri-ducting, to one that embodies a centre-raised section incorporating dual-ducting become another feature. Various redevelopments to the rear-end were made; most notably the introduction of a rear bumper extending outwardly from the lower-portion. These styling changes were unpopular with many—particularly features such as the fin strakes within the primary rear-intake-ducts openings, which appeared to mimic the Ferrari Testarossa, though providing crucial improved engine cooling. Nonetheless it was only outsold by the QV model. It also featured 345/35R15 tyres; the widest tyres available on a production car at the time. The Anniversary edition was produced up until 1990 before being superseded by the Lamborghini Diablo. Seen here was an LP400S.

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On different stands there were a couple of examples of the pretty Fulvia HF Rally, the elegant little Coupe which Lancia took rallying in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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The car that followed it into the forests, purpose-designed for the task in hand, was the Stratos. A number of these, in rally guise were on various stands across the show. To ensure homologation, a number of road cars had to be built as well, and this is one of them. Spectacular.

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Making an interesting contrast with the one-off prototype Flaminia in the Corrado Lopresto collection was this production Flavia Coupe, showing how similar the front end styling appears to be.

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Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cars ever produced by Pininfarina is the Aurelia B24 Spider. The car made its debut at the 1955 Brussels Motor Show, and was then built in very limited numbers for just one year. In 1957, a Cabriolet version of the model was introduced, without the wrap around windscreen and featuring full-width bumpers. There were a couple of these cars here as well as the Spider. All were for sale.

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Also named after one of the roads leading to Rome, like other Lancia models of the 1950s, the Flaminia was the replacement for the Aurelia. Built from 1957 to 1970, it  was Lancia’s flagship model, produced in saloon, coupé and cabriolet versions. The Flaminia coupé and convertible were coachbuilt cars with bodies from several prestigious Italian coachbuilders. Four “presidential” stretched limousine Flaminias were produced by Pininfarina for use on state occasions. There were 12,633 Flaminias sold over 13 years. Coupés outsold the four-door saloon, an unusual occurrence otherwise seen at the time only in American compact and midsize models whose coupe versions were standard factory models that cost the same or less than the sedan, while the Flaminia coupes’ coachbuilt bodies made them considerably more expensive than the limousine-like Berlina. The Flaminia’s chassis was a development of the Aurelia’s, but was significantly upgraded. The front suspension was changed to a more conventional configuration with double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar. The rear suspension retained the De Dion setup, with a transaxle mounted at the rear as in the Aurelia. The first Berlina was available with drum brake or discs, all other models used discs only. The original two bodies of the Flaminia were developed by Pininfarina and modelled after his two Aurelia-based motor show specials, named Florida, as seen in the Corrado Lopresto collection presented earlier in this report. The Flaminia’s engine was an evolution of the world’s first V6, which was introduced in the Aurelia. It had increased bore and decreased stroke. The engines were mounted longitudinally, powering the rear wheels through a 4-speed rear-mounted transaxle. A version with a larger engine was introduced in 1962. The first Coupe model was designed and built by Pininfarina, and was very similar to the Florida II prototype with a 2+2 layout, sitting on a shortened wheelbase relative to the Berlina. This proved to be the most popular of the Coupe versions, with 5,236 Coupés made(4,151 with the 2.5, 1,085 with the 2.8) up to 967. A second Coupe model was made available in 1961, styled and built by Carrozzeria Touring. These aluminium bodied cars can be easily distinguished by their four round headlights (rather than two on Pininfarina Flaminias), and a shorter cabin – the wheelbase was decreased significantly for the GT and Convertibile, allowing for only two seats to be mounted. The GT was a coupé, while the Convertibile was obviously a cabriolet version (with optional hardtop). The GTL, introduced in 1962, was a 2+2 version of the GT with a slightly longer wheelbase. The Convertibile was in production until 1964, with 847 made in total (180 with the 2.8), while the GT and GTL lasted until 1965, with 1718 GTs and 300 GTLs made (out of which, 168 GTs and 297 GTLs with the 2.8). Final bodystyle, and the one seen here was produced by Zagato. This was also a two-seater. It used the same shorter wheelbase chassis as the GT, and had a very distinctive rounded aluminium body with pop-out handles. The Super Sport replaced the Sport in 1964, with the introduction of the 2.8 litre 152 bhp engine. The first Sports had flush covered headlights, later changed to more classic round ones. The Super Sport also saw some changes – the rear was updated to a Kammback, while the front was made more aerodynamic with distinctive tear-shape headlight casings. Until 1967, 593 Sports and Super Sports were built (99 Preseries, 344 Sports, 150 Supersports). Given that fewer of these were produced than the other models it was a bit of a surprise to find at least three of them here, offered for sale by Artcurial, Osenat and elsewhere.

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This imposing 1931 DiLambda, with Boneschi Coachwork and a  4 litre engine has been in the same family since 1940.

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This is a 1967 Type 47 Europa. Although the original 1966 Europa was intended as a clubmans sports racer to replace the Lotus 7, it was realised that the car would be uncompetitive with the Renault engines available. A decision was therefore made for Lotus Components to manufacture a specialist race car based on the Europa to be raced by Team Lotus and sold to private entrants. Although the very first Type 47 was based on a modified Europa, all subsequent cars were produced entirely by Lotus Components rather than the main factory. Launched at the same time as the S1 Europa, the body of the 47 was thinner than the standard Europa and with larger wheel arches. Side vents into the engine bay were added after the 1st few cars experiencing problems with engine bay temperature. The engine, gearbox and rear suspension were completely different from the standard Europa and were taken in their entirety from the Lotus 23/Lotus 22 Formula Junior with a Lotus-Ford Twin Cam based 165 hp  1,594 cc Cosworth Mk.XIII dry sump engine, and a Hewland FT 200 5-speed gearbox and suspension with reversed bottom wishbone, top link and dual radius arms. The front upright was specially cast in common with the F2 version of Lotus 41X to accommodate a larger Girling brake for the later 47A model (which had the Alfa Romeo tail lamp shared with the Europa S2) with reinforced front frame. Exact production numbers of the Type 47 are unknown, the last car was 47GT-85 but it is unlikely 85 47GT’s were produced, estimates vary from 55 to 68 during the years 1966-70. Although the 47GT is the best known, a few 47F’s were produced, these had the detachable body similar to the S2 Europa, but retaining the large wheel arches and side vents of the 47GT. Fitted with a tuned Ford cross flow engine but with the Renault gearbox and rear suspension of the Europa. The number produced is unknown but probably no more than 6.

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Shown on the Ascott Collection stand, where the car was for sale was this March 85 G 06 Porsche. A Group C car, it was developed by the celebrated British engineer Adrian Newey, whose cars have clocked up an impressive number of victories over the years. After designing the famous March racing cars for endurance racing, he enabled the Williams, McLaren and, more recently, Red Bull teams to win numerous World Championship titles in Formula 1.  To date, his Formula 1 cars have won no less than 10 World Championship titles, the most recent one being no later than 2013. Back  in 1982, Adrian Newey started by developing the March 82 G. The car immediately created a sensation by winning the IMSA GTP category of the world endurance championship outright, the very year of its launch, and again the following year. In 1985, a new car, the March 85 G, saw the light of day. Ten cars were built in all to take part in endurance racing. Only four of them were fitted with the famous Porsche engine inherited from the works Porsche 956s. The 2.8 litre mono turbo Porsche engine was mated to the gearbox which equips the Porsche 962, a veritable model of robustness and user-friendliness. The March 85 G 06 is the best-known of the series, having marked itself out in 1985 in the United States with John Kalagian’s team before taking part in the 1986 endurance racing world championship with the Richard Cleare team. Its feats include a victory in the category IMSA GTP at the Le Mans 24 hours race of 1986 (14th overall) ahead of the works Nissans competing in the same category and also the works Porsche 956s and the XJR-type Jaguars, amongst others.  The race-team included the young French driver Lionel Robert who thus obtained a fine reward for his first participation in the Le Mans 24 hours race. This particular car has been entirely restored and is now in perfect mechanical and body condition.

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During the 1930s, Maserati was all about racing, producing cars that were aimed at beating the Alfa Romeos, Bugattis and the growing challenge from the Germans. The Tipo 8CM, with a supercharged straight eight cylinder 2992cc engine, first appeared for the Tunis Grand Prix in 1933, where  Zehender drove it into third place. It won its first International event in July 1933 driven by Nuvolari at the Belgian Grand Prix.

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The Maserati 300S was a racing car produced between 1955–58, which competed in the FIA’s World Sportscar Championship. Twenty eight examples were produced. As the name might suggest, it had a 3.0-litre straight 6 engine, based on the the design of the Maserati 250F and incorporated a lengthened stroke developed by Vittorio Bellentani to increase the capacity from the original 2.5-litres. It generated approx 245 bhp at 6200 rpm, with a compression ratio was reduced from 12:1 to 9.5:1, partly due to the FIA regulations requiring the engine to be run on road car fuel, and it used three Weber carburettors, initially 42DCO3, later 45DCO3. A trellis structure was used instead of the tubular one of the 250F, and the aluminium body was by Medardo Fantuzzi. The brakes were the same as the 250F, beautifully machined alloy drums with extensive fining. The suspension was also of the same design as the 250F but with some strengthening to cope with the rougher tracks and road surfaces encountered in WSC racing. New features for the 300S included the incorporation of a DeDion type rear axle, a transverse four speed gearbox and two chain driven camshafts. After a poor showing in the first season (1955) due mainly to mechanical malfunctions and development problems, it won at the Nurburgring in 1956 and finished second overall. It was second to the Maserati 450S, and was followed by the Maserati 350S. After the Guidizzolo accident in 1957, the last few 300S were sold to customers in the USA. Giulio Alfieri gave up an attempt to fit it with fuel injection. One 300S was developed with the new V12 engine, becoming the Maserati 350S. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame is a long term owner of a 300S and has raced the car in historic competitions.

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Coming soon after the 300S was the 3500GT and later 3500GT Vignale Spider, examples of both of which were on show.  Maserati had made their first forays into the grand tourer market, with the 1947 A6 1500, 1951 A6G 2000 and 1954 A6G/54, but whilst these cars had proven that the expanding the business beyond race cars was feasible; these A6 road cars were still built at the rate of just a dozen examples a year, which hardly constituted series production. A different approach was going to be needed, with the objective of building fully accomplished grand tourers. An engine was not really a problem. The 2 litre twin cam unit that had enabled Maserati to achieve racing success and international visibility in the early 1950s, thanks to cars such as the A6GCM;, had already been enlarged to three litre capacity on the Maserati 300S. Chief engineer Giulio Alfieri felt the next step was to design an all-new 3.5-litre engine; the resulting long-stroke six, designed foremost for endurance racing on the Maserati 350S, was ready in 1955. The main development efforts that led to the 3500 GT were carried out in 1956–57, despite the frantic activity required by Maserati’s participation in the Formula 1 world championship. Alfieri modified the 350S’s engine to suit a touring car, such as switching to a wet sump oil system and changing the engine accessories. He also made several business trips to the United Kingdom in order to contact components suppliers. None were found in Italy, as Italian taxation system and the industry structure forced manufacturers to design every part in-house; a daunting task for small companies like Maserati. Thus the 3500 GT alongside Italian Weber carburettors and Marelli ignition, used many British-made components such as a Salisbury rear axle, Girling brakes and Alford & Alder suspension parts. Clearly the bodywork would have to be Italian. According to Carrozzeria Touring’s Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni it was Commendatore Franco Cornacchia, a prominent Ferrari dealer, that put in contact Maserati owner Omar Orsi with the Milanese Carrozzeria The first 3500 GT Touring prototype had a 2+2 body, with superleggera construction and was white in colour; it was nicknamed Dama Bianca (White Lady). Two 3500 GT prototypes were shown at the March 1957 Salon International de l’Auto in Geneva. Both had a 2,600 mm (102.4 in) wheelbase and aluminium bodywork; they were Touring’s Dama Bianca, and another one by Carrozzeria Allemano. Touring’s proposal was chosen for series production; few changes were made to it, chiefly a more imposing grille. Production of the 3500 GT started in late 1957; eighteen cars were built that year, the first handful leaving the factory before Christmas. All 3500 GTs had leather interior and Jaeger-LeCoultre instruments. A first Touring convertible prototype was shown at the 1958 Turin Motor Show, but it was a proposal by Carrozzeria Vignale (designed by Michelotti) shown at the 1959 Salon de l’Auto in Paris that went into production as 3500 GT Convertibile. The Convertibile did not feature Touring’s Superleggera construction, but rather a steel body with aluminium bonnet, boot lid and optional hard top; it was also built on an 10 cm (3.9 in) shorter wheelbase, and weighed 1,380 kg (3,042 lb). Front disc brakes and limited slip differential became optional in 1959, and were standardized in 1960; rear discs became standard in 1962. The 3500 GTi was introduced at the 1960 Salon International de l’Auto, and by the following year became the first fuel-injected Italian production car. It had a Lucas mechanical fuel injection, and developed 232 bhp. A 5-speed gearbox was now standard. The body had a lowered roofline and became somewhat longer; minor outward changes appeared as well (new grille, rear lights, vent windows). From 1961 convertible 3500s for export markets were named 3500 GT Spyder and GTi Spyder. In total,  2,226 3500 GT coupés and convertibles were built between 1957 and 1964. In the first year, 1958, just  119 cars were sold, while 1961 was the best-selling year, totalling 500. All together, 245 Vignale convertibles and nearly 2000 coupés were manufactured, of these, 1981 being Touring coupés, the rest were bodied by other coachbuilders: Carrozzeria Allemano (four coupés, including the 1957 prototype), Zagato (one coupe, 1957), Carrozzeria Boneschi (1962 Turin Motor Show and 1963 Geneva Motor Show ), Pietro Frua (two or three coupés, one spider) and Bertone (one coupé, 1959 Turin Motor Show) The last was a coupé by Moretti for the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. The car was replaced by the Sebring in 1964.

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There were a couple of the very pretty Ghibli model – the first of three very different models to bear the name – on dealer stands.  First unveiled in prototype form on the Maserati stand at the November 1966 Turin Motor Show, this grand tourer with an all steel body, characterised by a low, shark-shaped nose, was designed by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, then working at Carrozzeria Ghia. Deliveries started in March of the following year. While the 1966 Ghia prototype was a two-seater, on the production car two emergency rear seats were added—consisting of nothing more than a cushion without backrest—and the Ghibli was marketed as a 2+2, though everyone tends to think of this car as a 2 seater, and the later Indy as the real 2+2 from the range. The first Ghibli cars were powered by a front placed quad-cam 4.7 litre dry sump V8 engine that prodiuced 306 bhp,  mated to a five-speed manual or, on request, to a three-speed automatic transmission. It had a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). The car also featured pop-up headlamps, leather sport seats and alloy wheels. A convertible version, the Ghibli Spyder, went into production in 1969. Its convertible top folded away under a flush fitting body-colour tonneau cover behind the front seats; thus the Spyder eschewed any vestigial rear passenger accommodation, and was a strict two-seater. A removable hard top was available as an option. The 4.9-litre Ghibli SS was released later in 1969. Its V8 engine was stroked 4 mm to displace 4930 cc, and put out 330 bhp; its top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph) made it the fastest Maserati road car ever produced. In all, 1,170 coupés and 125 Spyders (including 25 Spyder SS) were produced. The Maserati Ghibli in metallic copper colour on the photos was exhibited by OPUS and is the oldest Ghibli still in existence and the fifth ever produced. It was delivered new in France by Thepenier – St Cloud, and the car came first in class “Ghibli” at the Maserati centennial Concours d’Elégance, in Torino in  September 20th 2014.

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In 1973 the Ghibli went out of production and found a successor the following year with the Bertone-designed Maserati Khamsin.In fact, the Khamsin had been introduced on the Bertone stand at the November 1972 Turin Auto Show.  Designed by Marcello Gandini, it was Bertone’s first work for Maserati. In March 1973 the production model was shown at the Paris Motor Show. Regular production of the vehicle finally started a year later, in 1974. The Khamsin was developed under the Citroën ownership for the clientele that demanded a front-engined grand tourer on the lines of the previous Ghibli, more conventional than the mid-engined Bora. In 1977 a mild facelift added three horizontal slots on the Khamsin’s nose to aid cooling. Inside it brought a restyled dashboard and a new padded steering wheel. One Khamsin was delivered to Luciano Benetton in 1981. Despite the many improvements over its predecessor, the Khamsin didn’t replicate its success; partly due to the concurrent fuel crisis that decreased demand for big V8 grand tourers. Production ended in 1982, with 435 vehicles made, a mere third of the Ghibli’s 1274 examples production run. 155 of whose had been exported to the United States.

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This is the rare one-off prototype Mexico with a body by Frua which has been seen at a number of prestige events in the last few months. First shown at the 1968 Geneva Motor Show, the car’s Frua body was altered in detail before the car went into production, making this one unique. The engine is 4.7 litre V8 producing 290 hp. This car has gone through a full restoration for more the 2.000 hours during 2013-2014 period.

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Another of the “special” stands, the one dedicated to Matra had examples of each of the road cars produced by the firm. On one side of the stand were the sporting models, which included the three successive generation of M530, a couple of Bagheera models and a Murena.

The first road-going Matra model had been the hard to pronounce DJet of 1962. In 1965 Matra’s CEO Jean-Luc Lagardère decided to develop a sports car that would be more accessible to the ordinary, non-racing public, a voiture des copains (car for chums), as its successor, and the result was the first “true” Matra sports car, (the Djet had been a René Bonnet design) the Matra M530. The car was named after Matra’s R.530 missile, and designed by a former Simca designer called Philippe Guédon. Like its predecessor, the M530 was built on a steel frame with polyester body and had a mid-engine. To accommodate a 2+2, mid-engine layout and a reasonable boot, various engine options were considered. In the end, the running gear came from Ford in Germany: the “high compression” 1699 cc Ford Taunus V4 engine and gearbox from the Taunus 15M TS were chosen. This combination was compact enough to fit between the rear seats and the boot. Other unusual features of the M530 were its targa top roof, pop-up headlights and, most notably, the outstanding avant-garde design. The first 530 (badged Matra Sports M530A) was shown to the public on March 7, 1967 at the Geneva Motor Show. It had a 70 DIN hp Ford 1700 cc V4 engine, which gave the car a top speed of 175 km/h (109 mph). It entered production a month later, incorporating modifications that included the addition of a chrome bumper bar to provide for the front grill much needed protection from parking shunts, a modest reshaping of the dashboard to give the passenger a little more knee room, and the repositioning of the ignition key to facilitate access. In its first two production years, the chassis was built by Carrier in Alençon and assembly was undertaken by French coachbuilder Brissonneau et Lotz at Creil. The engine bay of the early model 530 was accessible by removing the acrylic glass rear window. 1969 saw many changes to the 530. First, the running gear followed the same evolution as the Ford model it was taken from and power increased to 75 DIN hp by using a different carburettor. Secondly, Matra closed a deal with Chrysler Europe, to sell their cars through the Simca dealer network from 1970 onwards and jointly develop the M530’s successor. Finally, the cars were now constructed completely at the Matra Automobiles factory in Romorantin. Introduced at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show was the Matra Simca M530LX, which was a minor redesign of the 530A by Michelotti. The most notable changes were the rear hatch (now made of glass and opens with struts like a hatchback) and the front bumper. A budget version of the 530, the Matra Simca 530SX, was introduced in October 1971. The SX lacked the targa top roof and pop-up headlights; instead, there were four fixed headlights mounted on top of the front. The only available colours were orange and white, and the SX featured black bumpers instead of the LX’s chrome bumpers. M530’s production ceased in 1973, after a total of 9,609 cars (2,062 530A, 4,731 530LX and 1,146 530SX) were built

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For its replace, the Matra Bagheera, the firm worked in cooperation with the automaker Simca. Designed by the Greek, Antonis Volanis, the new car was marketed as Matra-Simca Bagheera to highlight the link, except for the final production year 1980, when it was re-badged Talbot-Matra Bagheera after Chrysler Europe’s demise and subsequent takeover by PSA. Named after the panther from The Jungle Book, the Bagheera was created using stock Simca components, including the engines, gearbox and suspension elements, but unlike the front wheel drive Simca 1100 and 1307 cars it shared them with, it was a mid-engined car. The Bagheera’s body was made of polyester, mounted on a steel structure. It was formed in the shape of a sleek hatchback, with a rear hatch that allowed access to the engine mounted behind the passenger compartment. There was only one row of seats, but it featured an unusual combination of three abreast, one of the few three-passenger sports cars ever made. When launched in 1973, the Bagheera was only available with a 4 cylinder 1294cc engine. In 1975, the range grew to include a 1442cc version of the same engine. The Bagheera is also notable as one of the few manufacturers in the world to have developed a “U engine” for this vehicle. As Matra engineers believed the Bagheera could use a more powerful unit, they created a unique construction out of two 1.3 litre Simca engines, joined side-by-side by a common pan unit, the two crankshafts being linked by chain. This resulted in a 2.6 litre 8-cylinder unit, producing 168 bhp. However, Chrysler Europe was unwilling to pursue the project due to the developing fuel crises as well as its own financial problems. Thus, the U8-powered Bagheera remained as a prototype and only three units were ever built. In 1976, the Bagheera underwent a major restyling, with basically only the rear hatch unchanged, producing the Bagheera type II. Another change took place in 1978, when the dashboard was replaced again, and in 1979 the Bagheera was given conventional door handles in lieu of the previous “hidden” ones. Production of the Bagheera ended in 1980, when it was replaced by Matra Murena, with 47,802 Bagheeras built in total. Very few Bagheeras remain in existence today, as they suffered badly from quality issues (the Bagheera won the ADAC Silberne Zitrone = “Silver Lemon” award in 1975 for the poorest quality car of that moment) and extensive body rot. Though the polyester panels couldn’t rust, the underlying steel chassis had almost no protection. Matra learned from this and fully galvanised the Bagheera’s successor.

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Replacing the Bagheera was the Murena, a similar vehicle, and largely based on its predecessor. Referred to as project “M551” during development, the Murena employed the base Bagheera structure, but substantial changes were made to address some of the concerns regarding the previous model. The car still had a steel spaceframe with body panels made of fibreglass-polyester, but to counter the rust issues plaguing the Bagheeras, the spaceframe was galvanised. The Murena was actually the first production car to use galvanised steel for all chassis parts. This, coupled with the composite panels, made the car essentially immune to rust, except for the rear trailing arms of the suspension. The Murena also inherited the Bagheera’s mid-engined layout together with the sleek hatchback body shape, with the rear hatch allowing access to the engine mounted behind the passenger compartment, and a luggage area. The styling was all-new, though, and the body very aerodynamic for its time. A unique feature carried over from the previous model was the seating arrangement – all three seats were placed in one row, with the middle seat folding down to become an armrest when not in use by a passenger. The engine selection was different, however. The base model had a 1.6 engine, while the more powerful version employed the 2.2 (Chrysler France engine), which also served as the base engine for the top of the range Talbot Tagora saloon launched at the same time. This engine was also available with the so-called “S-kit” that upgraded its output to 142bhp At first, this was a dealer-fitted option, but later it could be ordered straight from the factory. The standard carburation was via a single Solex downdraft carburettor, but S models had twin side draft carburettors. The car had good performance and handling. It was only available in left hand drive specification, although a very small number of right hand drive conversions were made. Production of the Matra Murena ceased in 1983, when the Matra factory in Romorantin switched to production of the Renault Espace. A Murena S, one of just 488 made was on display.

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On the other were what we would now know as Crossover and People Carriers, with the Matra Rancho and the first generation Renault Espace. The Rancho, thought of as a leisure activity vehicle, was created by the French engineering group Matra, in cooperation with the automaker Simca, to capitalise on the off-road trend started by the Range Rover, with an “off-road look” offered at a much lower price than the British car. The Rancho was launched in 1977. Designed by Antonis Volanis, the Rancho was based on the pick-up version of Simca’s popular 1100, using its front structure and a stretched chassis. The rest of the body was made by Matra from fibreglass and polyester, including the mouldings adorning the body, which made it look more “sturdy”. This technology would later be used on the Renault Espace,  as well. The ground clearance was also increased. Unlike most off-roaders, it was not fitted with all-wheel drive, retaining the 1100s front-wheel drive layout. Other elements retained from the 1100 included the dashboard and front seats which were identical with the ones found in the Simca 1100 GLS. The Rancho was powered by the 1442 cc, 80 bhp version of the “Poissy engine” straight-4 engine. The Rancho’s optional third row of seats (making it an early MPV) shared head restraints with the normal rear seats. Sales of the model were quite respectable, but they could do nothing to alleviate the larger problems at Chrysler Europe (Simca’s parent company). Chrysler finally sold its European arm to PSA in 1978, which was then rebranded as Talbot in 1979. The Matra-Simca Rancho became the Talbot Matra Rancho. Production continued until 1984, and 57,792 were made. During its life, the Rancho was offered in several versions. Apart from the basic Rancho, there was the Grand Raid, around 2000 of which were built, fitted with such “off-road” extras as an electric winch on the front bumper and the spare wheel mounted on the roof – as well as a limited-slip differential. The Rancho X was the upscale model, with additional standard items such as alloy wheels and metallic paint. The Découvrable model’s rear cabin consisted of an open frame with roll-down fabric covers, which could serve as an “open” car during good weather. Finally, the Rancho AS was the commercial version, with no rear seat, making it exempt from the French tax on passenger cars. Rarest of the lot was the Midnight, only 100 of which were made. Although the bodies do not rust, the mechanicals are less durable, so there are not that many survivors, down to just single figures in the UK, sadly. It was nice to see so many cars here, with examples of most of the different versions present, making for an interesting display.

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The Rancho spawned an unlikely successor: the Renault Espace. Matra wanted to replace the Rancho with their prototype of the Espace known as the “dessin orange”, which translates to “the orange drawing” in English – both the prototype and the background it was drawn on were orange. It predicted the basic shape of the first Espace but only had three doors instead of five. Peugeot (who controlled Matra at the time) deemed the project too expensive and not promising enough. Determined to take its design to production Matra knocked on Renault’s door and they quickly adopted the project, one that upon its launch in 1984 arguably became the first European minivan. A first generation Espace was shown alongside the Rancho models.

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A Maybach 62S Laundaulet. Future Classic? or just rather tacky? You judge! It is certainly a rare car, as only 8 were made. The Landaulet was based on the Maybach 62S, reviving the classic landaulet car body style, which was popular in the 1920s and 30s. Powered by the 62S’s 612-hp biturbo V12, the Landaulet’s front seats are fully enclosed and separated from the rear passenger compartment by a power divider window; the opacity of this partition can be electronically controlled. A sliding soft roof allows back-seat passengers to take in the sun from the comfort of their seats. The chauffeur’s area is finished in black leather, while the rear is white with piano black- and gold-flecked black granite inserts.Maybach publicly unveiled the Landaulet at the Middle East International Auto Show around the end of November 2007 as a concept car. Limited production was confirmed in January 2008. In total, 8 units were made, one of which was owned by rapper Birdman.

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Mercedes was another of the manufacturers with an official factory presence, and they brought along some very rare cars from their vast collection, as well as the latest road going machine in their range. giving them a vast stand that was deservedly popular. The brand new car on show was the awkwardly titled Mercedes-AMG GT and it is fair to say that it was creating lots of interest, with almost everyone who passed it wanting a closer look  It took until very late in the day before I could get any photographs of the car unimpaired by people peering inside it.  Joining it was the latest AMG S63 Coupe model, an high end model with a little more room in it than the AMG GT-S.

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However, the real star of the stand, was this newly recreated version of the famous 1938 540K Stromlinien Wagen (the “Streamliner”).  The introduction of the motorways in Germany in the 1930s brought new challenges for the automotive design engineers. Aerodynamic styling was becoming a more and more important factor in automotive design. It was during this period that the “special vehicle production unit” in Sindelfingen under Hermann Ahrens created the W29 540 K Streamliner. Although originally conceived as an efficient competition vehicle for the important Berlin-Rome long-distance race, in fact the Streamliner ended up being used as a test vehicle for high-speed tyre testing by the Dunlop company in Germany. A fast, comfortable and safe car was urgently needed for testing the new generations of tyres at very high cruising speeds on the motorway. The Streamliner was based on a chassis from the standard-production 540 K, boasting a five-litre, eight-cylinder, in-line, supercharged engine producing 180 bhp which made it perfect for high speed driving, and the car had excellent acceleration and an unusually long gearbox to avoid over-revving event at its top speed of 114 mph (185 km/h). But what really made it stand out was its ultra-streamlined, lightweight aluminium body developed under wind-tunnel testing, which resembled no other car at the time, and anticipated the shapes that were to be fashionable immediately after the war. Its highly aerodynamic form, designed by Hermann Arhens from the Sindelfingen plant, revolutionised the canons of late 30s auto design. Referred to as a berlinette, the 540 K embodied a kind of purity that was close to sheer genius. With its all-aluminium bodywork, this sleek car has a surprisingly high beltline and a surprisingly low windscreen. According to the company, the body and undercarriage were designed to be as smooth as possible to the point where the Mercedes badge was painted on the bonnet. The Berlin-Rome race of 1938 was postponed until the next year and then cancelled when war broke out. During the war, it was used by the German branch of the Dunlop tyre company as a test vehicle. In late 1939, it was converted to run on gas. At the end of the war, the Streamliner reappeared near Stuttgart. Driven by an American soldier, it seemed to have been perfectly preserved. A Dunlop staff member ultimately spotted the car, and the GI was ordered to give it back to its owner. It was given a new registration on 21 April 1948 and was mothballed at the Mercedes factory where it was then forgotten about and left to decay in storage for decades. Some of the important components from the vehicle found their way into the collection of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Reconstructing it was not a straightforward endeavour, even though the original line drawing had been made available by the Mercedes-Benz Archives. Some important components of the original vehicle were also tracked down in Mercedes-Benz’s own company collection. But of the most important component of this unique vehicle, its aluminium bodyshell, only a few traces remained on the frame: the bodyshell had to be completely reconstructed. All in all, more than 4,800 hours of work went into this extremely demanding restoration and reconstruction project. People who had been around at that time were questioned, documents consulted and individual parts rebuilt until, in 2014, the 540 K Streamliner was ready for testing in the wind tunnel. Here it revealed a drag coefficient of 0.36. Following this, it was time to test the recreated car out on the road, where it proved able to hit an impressive 167.97 km/h. Then it was time to measure its performance with the supercharger. The Roots-type supercharger could only be activated for a minute at a time, but it was enough: with a top speed of 185.57 km/h, the 540 K Streamliner achieved the speed its design engineers had envisaged back in 1938. Amazing! The car made its debut at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours.

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With a clear linkage to the well known “GullWing”  300SL, this turned out to be far rarer than I had imagined. This is a one-off prototype dating from 1953, with a body made out of magnesium. The origins of the SL class are rooted in motor racing: in the early 1950s, Mercedes-Benz developed the W 194 model series as the result of a decision to re-enter motor-sport for the 1952 season, commissioning the production of the 300 Super Light, as the car was initially known. Using the 3 litre 6 cylinder engine from the existing Mercedes 300 Luxury cars, Mercedes designed a new body which they attached to a space-frame structure consisting of a delicate lattice of numerous triangles which was extremely stiff and light. To achieve optimum strength, the frame was raised at the sides – a design that necessitated the use of the now legendary gullwing doors. The resulting car undertook its initial test drives in November 1951 on the Solitude circuit just outside Stuttgart, as well as on the Nürburgring and the Hockenheimring. The vehicle was introduced to an awestruck press on 12 March 1952, on the autobahn between Stuttgart and Heilbronn. The 1952 racing season was to prove an exceptionally successful one for Mercedes-Benz, as a look at the results of the 300 SL’s various appearances reveals: second and fourth places in the Mille Miglia, a threefold victory in the ‘Prix de Berne’ sports car race, double victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, fourfold victory in the Nürburgring Anniversary Sports Car Grand Prix and a double victory in the 3rd Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. The brand had made its return to motor racing with a true flourish, while the continuing advertising impact ensured it was firmly back on the international scene. This Mercedes-Benz W194 (chassis 2) is one of two vehicles that share a special place in the history of the 300 SL Gullwing. W194 chassis 1 and 2 were hand-built in Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s Stuttgart-Unterturkheim racing workshop. Uhlenhaut was at that time Head of Passenger Car Research at Daimler-Benz. The special hand-built character of chassis 2 is visible in many of its components, such as the welding seams. The entire body is formed of an aluminium-magnesium sheet metal and is very light. The first 300 SL no long exists, having been scrapped during its time with the company. However, the second car to be built, with the chassis number 194 010 00002/52, is still with us and has been in company ownership since it was built in the racing workshops in 1951/52. This oldest existing SL was painstakingly restored to mark the anniversary of ’60 years of the SL’, ready for celebrations in 2012. This involved the vehicle being completely dismantled at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Fellbach, near Stuttgart, then every single component meticulously examined and, where necessary, restored according to the very highest standards of authenticity and quality. The clear remit was to retain the substance in every respect.  The restoration of the bodywork was a particularly tricky process, as it is made out of extremely fine aluminium/magnesium sheet metal which, by its very nature, is extremely delicate. Time had also taken its toll on it in many places. It took the specialists around six months to bring the body shell of the oldest SL in the world still in existence back to its former glory. The restoration of the vehicle lasted ten months in all, which, in view of the extensive work involved, represented a very tight schedule. All the effort was well worthwhile, though. When the engine of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, which bears the original registration plate ‘W59-4029’, is started up once again and the vehicle quickly picks up speed, it is easy to believe that it can still manage a top speed of 230 km/h and that this is the car that enjoyed one of the most successful sports careers of the 1950s.

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Mercedes continued to develop the 300SL, as the car came to be known, both for racing and then for sale as a road car. The body of this first SL pre-empts certain elements of the later series-production sports car model. Among these are the low bonnet of the pre-war racing cars, with a Mercedes star mounted on the grille of the cooling air intake. The famous swing-wing doors are a characteristic feature of the Coupé: they are cut deep into the roof, open upwards and were originally conceived purely as access hatches that opened only as far as the beltline. During preparations for the ’24 Hours of Le Mans’ the door openings were enlarged, giving the even more pronounced effect of extended wings. This led to the car being nicknamed the ‘Gullwing’ by the Americans and ‘Papillon’ (Butterfly) by the French. In two races the 300 SL appeared with a Roadster body rather than as a ‘Gullwing’ model. Lightweight construction was one of the key priorities for the 300 SL. Wherever possible, efforts were made to save weight – the body shell is made out of sheet aluminium/magnesium, some of the mechanical components of aluminium or magnesium, while various parts are bored to make them lighter. Another way of improving competitiveness was to make the body as aerodynamic as possible. Rudolf Úhlenhaut, who was the head of passenger car testing at Daimler-Benz at that time, developed a special framework for the W 194, weighing just 50 kilograms. This is made out of very fine, high-alloy steel tubes designed to absorb tensile and compression forces. The interior is panelled throughout and, unusually for a racing car, exudes an air of comfort. Speedometer and rev counter are perfectly positioned in the driver’s field of vision, with the smaller instruments for water temperature, petrol pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure, as well as the car’s original stopwatch, located below them. The well-contoured, bucket-type seats are upholstered in tartan woollen cloth, while the four-spoke steering wheel can be removed to make getting in and out of the car easier. A total of ten W 194 vehicles were built for the 1952 season. On the weekend of June 14-15, 1952, with the team of Hermann Lang and Fritz Riess driving, chassis 7 won the race, the first German car to achieve this result. It was based on the success of this racer that Daimler-Benz was convinced by US importer Max Hoffman to produce a road-going version of this race car, the iconic 1954-57 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupe. A successor racing model was developed in readiness for the following year which, as the eleventh SL to be built, is also known as the W 194/11. It never did race in the 1953 season, however. From 1954 onwards Mercedes-Benz competed in Formula 1 racing, while the W 194 was developed further to become the 300 SL series-production sports car (W 198). The series-production vehicle became the dream sports car of the 1950s, going on to be awarded the accolade of ‘Sports car of the century’ in 1999.  There were large numbers of these on show on various of the dealer stands, all for sale.  It never ceases to surprise me quite how many of the iconic 300SL Gullwings are on offer at any one time. I did not count them all, but subsequent research elicited that there were at least 20. Classic Sport Leicht alone had 7 on their stand, one of which was Stirling Moss’ Tour de France entry.

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If a Gullwing does not suit, then the open topped model that followed it, in 1957, was also much in evidence.

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Displayed alongside it was the dramatic Wankel rotary engined glass-fibre bodied CIII of 1970. The C111 was a series of experimental automobiles produced by Mercedes-Benz in the 1960s and 1970s. The company was experimenting with new engine technologies, including Wankel engines, diesel engines, and turbochargers, and used the basic C111 platform as a testbed. Other experimental features included multi-link rear suspension, gullwing doors and a luxurious interior with leather trim and air conditioning. The first version of the C111 was completed in 1969. The car used a fibreglass body shell and with a mid-mounted three-rotor direct fuel injected Wankel engine (code named M950F). The next C111 appeared in 1970. It used a four-rotor engine producing 370 hp. The car reportedly could reach a speed of 290 km/h (180 mph). The company decided not to adopt the Wankel engine and turned to diesel experiments for the second and third C111s. The C111-IID produced 190 horsepower and was based on the 240D 3.0 W115 model OM617 engine. The C111-III was powered by a 230 horsepower @ 4,500rpm straight-five OM617 turbodiesel which broke nine diesel and gas speed records. With more aerodynamic bodywork that gave it an air drag coefficient of .191, the C111 eventually reached 200 mph at Nardò in 1978, and averaged 14.7mpg@ 195.4 mph over a 12-hour cruise. A later 500 hp 4.8 litre twin KKK-turbocharged V8 version set another record, with an average lap-speed of 403.78 km/h (250.958 mph). It was achieved by Hans Leibold in 1 minute, 56.67 seconds on May 5, 1979.

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Still wanting an open Mercedes, but with 4 seats? Then this W111 280SE Convertible could suit? These cars are now extremely pricey, but oh so elegant. The Mercedes-Benz W111 was a chassis code given to a range of Mercedes’ vehicles produced between 1959 and 1971, including 4-door sedans (1959-1968) and 2-door coupes and cabriolets (1961 to 1971). Introduced as inline 6-cylinder cars with 2.2-litre engines, the W111 spawned a large number of variants: entry-level vehicles sharing the chassis and bodies but with 4-cylinder engines were designated the W110, and a luxury version with the same body but the fuel-injected 3-litre M189 6-cylinder engine was designated the W112. The Saloons were first to appear., at the Frankfurt Show in 1959. These were the “Fin Tail” cars, that replaced the Ponton range of models. An elegant  2 door Coupe followed a few months later, with production starting in the autumn of 1960 and a reveal in Stuttgart the following February for the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The convertible followed at the Frankfurt Auto Show a few months later. It  was almost identical to the coupe, with the soft-top roof folded into a recess behind the rear seat and covered by a tightly fitting leather “boot” in the same colour as the seats. Unlike the previous generation of two-door Ponton series, there was initially only one model for the 2-door vehicle, the 220SE. An almost identical looking model, called the 300SE, came out in 1962. This was conceived to replace the older W187 300S car, but apart from having the Mercedes code of W112 and a 6 cylinder engine, it was very similar to the 220SE cars. Mercedes then continued to update the car with new engines, launching the car as the six cylinder 280 SE as part of the refresh of the range. The final derivative was the 280SE 3.5 offered from August 1969 with the new 200 bhp 3.5 litre V8 engine. In total, 7456 Convertibles were made.

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Kienle had this imposing 540K Cabrio A model on offer on their stand.

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This is an MG F-type Magna, a six-cylinder car produced from October 1931 to 1932, which was also known as the 12/70. Looking for a car to fill the gap between the M-Type Midget and the 18/80, MG turned to another of the engines that had become available from William Morris’s acquisition of Wolseley. This was the 1271 cc 6-cylinder version of the overhead camshaft engine used in the 1929 MG M type Midget and previously seen in the 1930 Wolseley Hornet, though in the MG, it had dummy side covers to disguise its origins. Fitted with twin SU carburettors it produced 37.2 bhp  at 4100 rpm at first, later increased to 47 bhp by revising the valve timing. Drive was to the rear wheels through a four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox of ENV manufacture. The chassis was a 10-inch longer version of the one from the MG D-type with suspension by half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction shock absorbers all round with rigid front and rear axles. Wire wheels with 4.00 x 19 tyres and centre lock fixing were used. The car had a wheelbase of 94 in (2,388 mm) and a track of 42 in (1,067 mm). With its sloping radiator and long bonnet the F-Type is an attractive car capable of reaching 70 mph. 188 of the cars were supplied in chassis form to outside coachbuilders such as Abbey, Jarvis, Stiles and Windover. The original F type was restricted by only having 8-inch brake drums, which, with its 4-seat bodies, was not really adequate. Many F1 cars have subsequently been fitted with the larger F2 brakes. The four-seat tourer cost £250 and the Foursome coupé cost £289. Introduced in late 1932, the F2 was the open 2-seater car in the range. It also got much needed enhanced braking by fitting larger 12-inch drums all round. The body with straight-topped doors came from the J-Type Midget. The F3, also introduced in 1932, used the same brakes as the F2 but had the 4-seater tourer and Foursome Coupé bodies fitted. The engine cooling was improved by changing the cooling water flow.

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As in previous years, there was one dealer display with a lot of classic British sports cars, and also as in the past, they were crammed together with no attempt made at any form of display, which was a shame. Among the classic MGs I spotted where an MGA, an MGB GT and a Midget

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Another car being auctioned by Artcurial, this is a 1934 Packard Series 1101. The Packard Motor Car Company was established in 1902, to succeed the Ohio Automobile Company as Packard’s builder. The new company moved to Detroit the following year. It was in 1924 that the in-line eight-cylinder engine and drum brakes on all four wheels were introduced for the top model Single Eight, and ten years later, Packard had increasingly become synonymous with comfort, elegance and mechanical refinement. Wealthy people were very fond of Packard and no less than 20 different body designs were on offer. The Model Eight Packard was a valuable and long-produced model for the Packard marque, undergoing almost annual revisions, and it carried various names throughout its production lifespan, including Eight, Standard Eight and Super Eight. By 1933 the Standard Eight was renamed to the Eight. It received a boost in horsepower to 120 thanks, in part, to the dual downdraft Stromberg carburettors. Standard wire wheels were now offered as standard equipment. The Tenth Series of cars were in production for only seven months, before they were replaced on August 21st of 1933 by the new Eleventh Series, which is the version seen here. The designs were very similar with the major improvements being to the vehicles mechanical components. These were necessary updates as the industry was constantly improving their products in an effort to remain in business during the difficult Great Depression era. The Eleventh Series Packard included an oil temperature regulator which allowed for the use of the same oil viscosity number throughout the year. It regulated the temperature of the oil to suite the various driving conditions. The oil pressure could now be adjusted from outside the engine bay. The fuel filler was built into the left rear taillight assembly. The engine now had a steel-back, babbit-lined crankshaft bearings. Standard features also included an adjustable vacuum-assisted mechanical brake system, automatic chassis lubrication, adjustable shock absorbers (‘Ride Control’), an automatic choke and an engine oil system temperature regulator, literally a cooling chamber, which was novel for the automobile of the era. The improvements to the design were more gradual. There was a three speed gearbox. The 1934 Packard’s had many design features that could be found on their siblings from prior years. Packard produced 5,210 Eights in 1934. This 1101 Series “Rumble seat coupe”, crossed the Atlantic in 1999 and was subject of a complete frame-up restoration by the current owner between 2001 and 2003. This rare model has dual spare wheels, and is equipped with a side hatch for storing golf clubs and a “Rumble Seat”. It is a former winner of several concours d’elegance.

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There were a number of Panhard cars here, and almost none of them at all familiar. Mindful of the precarious economic situation in France in the aftermath of war, and aware of government enthusiasm for expanding the strategically important aluminium industry, the Panhard company, which had been known in the 1930s as a manufacturer of expensive six- and eight-cylinder sedans, purchased the rights to build a lightweight compact saloon car designed by the visionary engineer Jean Albert Grégoire and first exhibited as the AFG (Aluminium Français Grégoire) Dyna at the Paris Motor Show in 1946. They called it the Dyna X. The dramatic change of direction was not well received by everyone at Panhard, but it did usher in a period during which Panhard was one of the most loyal followers of the Pons Plan. In view of the fates of France’s luxury auto-makers in the next ten years, and the huge development potential that Panhard extracted from the Dyna X, this adherence to the Pons Plan was probably good for Panhard, at least until the early 1960s. The Dyna was made production ready and was emerging in commercial quantities from Panhard’s Ivry plant by 1948: it set the pattern for Panhard passenger cars until the firm abandoned automobile production in 1967. Grégoire had during the 1920s and 1930s become known for his expertise in two particular areas of automobile construction, these being lightweight bodies and front wheel drive. The AFG Dyna, planned under difficult circumstances in occupied France, had an all-steel tubular frame chassis, to which was attached a lightweight aluminium four-door superstructure. The style of the saloon was modern and aerodynamic. The compact engine and the lack of a radiator permitted a wind-cheating front design on which the headlights perched like frogs’ eyes, between the wings and bonnet line. The shape of the car changed little during its model life. The Dyna X’s low profile engine was characteristically idiosyncratic. The two cylinder front mounted boxer unit was air-cooled. At launch in 1946 the 610 cc unit delivered a claimed maximum output of 24 hp at 4000 rpm, which by 1949 had increased to 28 hp at 5000 rpm. The car’s aluminium body gave it an excellent power-to-weight ratio and in this form a maximum speed of 110 km/h (68 mph). The Dyna X made a considerable impression in the touring car championships of the late 1940s. The car was also noted for its frugal fuel consumption. Engine displacement was increased in 1950 to 745 cc, and to 851 cc in 1952, by which time claimed output had increased to 40 hp in the Dyna 130. The gearbox was a four speed manual unit controlled using a column mounted lever, featuring synchromesh on the top three ratios. Power was transmitted to the front wheels, front wheel drive having been a specialty and an enthusiasm of Grégoire for many years. As well as the four door saloon, alternative bodies included the two-door cabriolet and a 3-door estate version. A ‘Fourgonette’ light van version was also offered. The chassis and engine of the Dyna turned up in the Panhard Dyna Junior sports car of 1951 and were also a popular basis for low-volume lightweight sports cars produced by specialist manufacturers. Seen here is an example of the Dyna Junior X87 Cabrio, dating from 1954.

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Also present were a number of those specialist-bodied cars. There’s not too much information online about these that I found. This is a 1954 Pichon Parat Coupe Junior. 30 of these were made, based on a Dyna X87 chassis, using the 857cc engine.

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Based on a Panhard Dyna X86 Junior chassis, this Panhard Dolomites is one of dozen that were produced by Pichon Parat between 1954 and 1956. Some cars had steel body whilst others were built of aluminium. The car participated in the 1954 Tour de France and later in several rallies with a class win at Aix en Provence rally with Garoni and Collin at the wheel. The car is presently part of the WISCAR Collection.

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This Coupe La Vitrine Deutsch et Bonnet 1950 started as a barchetta-style model during the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours. For 1960, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest rules required a minimum windscreen height and so the body was converted to a coupé, with  aluminium bodywork. The huge V-shaped windscreen resulted in the ‘La Vitrine’ nickname. The engine was changed to 951 cc. capacity. For 1960 Le Mans 24 Hours, Bouharde and Jeager finished 19th overall and third for Energetic Indice. For the 1961 race, Rollin and Bartholoni finished in 21st position.

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This is a 1956 Panhard MonopoIe. Monopole had been developing Panhard based racing car starting in 1949 and for 1956, they became the official racing branch of Panhard. For 1956, the company decided on a streamlined closed body made of aluminium. The chassis is based on the Panhard Dyna unit. For 1958, the body was revised and received gull wing doors. The car was entered at Le Mans 24 Hours but only one of the four cars finished the race. The engine is a 750 cc. flat twin.

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Perhaps the best known of the Panhard models on show were examples of the Dyna Z, in both Saloon and Cabrio guises. After the second World War, Panhard, one of the world’s oldest auto manufacturers, had focused on producing economical cars. Like Citroën, the firm considered itself a leader, not a follower of automotive trends, and the Dyna Z featured an impressive array of unusual engineering choices. A replacement for the Dyna X, the Dyna Z was first revealed in 1953, going on sale in 1954. It was powered by an 851 cc flat-twin, four-stroke, air-cooled engine which had concentric torsion bar valve springs on roller bearings, hollow aluminium push rods with hardened steel tips, roller main bearings and big end rod bearings of “Panhard Patent” design with an additional set of smaller rollers carrying the roller cage (separator); non-removable cylinder heads, removable steel cylinder liners. The cylinder “jugs” pulled off the crankcase and pistons like those of the VW air-cooled engines. Soft engine mounts to smooth the roughness of the two-cylinder four-stroke engine, radial flow fan bolted to crank shaft, full cooling shroud, aluminium structure and cooling fins. It generated 50 hp @ 5500 rpm, with the final year of the more potent Tigre models rated at 60 hp, which was impressive for the day. The Dyna Z was a front wheel drive car, using drive shafts with concentric tubes with rubber in the space between the inner and outer tubes. Cardan (“universal”) joint at the inner end next to the transaxle, double cardan constant velocity joint at the outer end at the wheel. There was a cable operated four-speed manual gearbox with a cast aluminium case transaxle with 2nd and 3rd synchromesh, transfer gears and second, third and fourth of “herringbone” design, column shift. There was a conventional friction clutch, cable operated, but optional in some markets was a magnetic clutch filled with iron “filings”. When a coil fixed to the casing was energised, the “filings” stiffened between the rotating casing on the crankshaft and the driving disc fixed to the gearbox input shaft. The electricity supplied by a special double generator, one set of windings supplying the battery and the rest of the electrical system, the other set of windings powering the magnetic clutch. As the engine accelerated above idle speed, the generator (not an “alternator” type) began energising the magnetic clutch, gradually connecting the crankshaft with the primary shaft of the gearbox.  The body was originally aluminium, like that of the preceding Dyna X, with steel tube subframes front and rear, joined by steel plate reinforcements in the sills. The decision to use aluminium sheeting for car bodies had been taken at a time when a sudden drop off in demand for fighter planes had left the producers with a glut of the metal, but in subsequent years the relative cost advantage of sheet steel had increased steadily. In Summer 1954 the cost penalty of persisting with aluminium bodywork had become financially insupportable and when the “Dyna Type Z1” was replaced by the “Dyna Y Type Z2” the most significant difference was a switch to a steel bodywork. The switch to sheet-steel body panels, attributed to “various setbacks” (“nombreuses déboires”) with the aluminium body of the earlier Type Z1, imposed an instant weight penalty and was accompanied by a substantial redesign of the front suspension and a change to the shock absorbers, though cost savings were too late to avoid the need for Panhard to sign their ultimately suicidal refinancing “agreement” with Citroën in April 1955. By 1958, only the bumpers, the fuel tank, the engine cooling shroud and most of the engine and transaxle cases were aluminium, but the weight was still quite low for a relatively comfortable six-seater saloon, when compared with narrower competitor models from Peugeot and Simca. Its unusual and very modern design gave it a unique combination of space, ride comfort, performance and fuel economy at a very competitive price. But reliability suffered and fuel prices were not high enough, even in France, for people to put energy efficiency first. The car also suffered from some engine and wind noise. The Tiger version had a racing inspired engine and a full cooling shroud. In 1955 Citroën had taken a 25% holding in Panhard’s automobile business and during the next two years the national dealership networks of the two businesses were integrated. This gave Citroen and Panhard dealers an expanded market coverage, incorporating now a small car, a medium sized saloon and a large car range. It gave the Panhard Dyna Z, during its final years in production, a level of market access that its predecessor had never enjoyed. Sales benefitted. The car was developed into the similar PL 17, launched in 1959, in an attempt to conform to the styles of the time.

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Celebrating 60 years since a Pegaso Z-102 was first exhibited in Paris, at the 1955 Salon at the Grand Palais, was an amazing display of 12 of these Spanish built cars, occupying one corner of the hall, and assembling these cars was no mean feat which had taken a lot of planning and persuasion. Based in Barcelona, Pegaso came about thanks to a man called Wilfredo Ricart, who had been the technical director at Alfa Romeo from 1936 to 1945. During that time, he took a profound dislike to Enzo Ferrari, who was still racing Alfa models through his own Scuderia Ferrari team. When Ricart’s contract at Alfa ran out, he went to Spain, a country which had suffered not just the ill-effects of the War, but also under civil conflict following the rising of General Franco prior to that. Spain needed to mobilise itself, literally to stand any chance of economic growth. So in 1946, when ENASA was formed to produce Pegaso lorries, Ricart was engaged as the technical director. The new company was based in Barcelona, in the former Hispano Suiza works, and indeed the first models used a Hispano chassis. It was not long before Ricart was working not just on the lorries and buses for which Pegaso was initially known, but also on a luxury sports car, with which he intended to compete against Ferrari. The first prototypes were revealed in 1951, called the Z-102. There were two: a coupe and a drophead, powered by an all alloy quad cam 2.5 litre V8 engine which generated 165 hp with a five speed transaxle, mounted behind the diff for better weight distribution. The coupe and convertible had dumpy steel bodies, and weight was an issue to the extent that Pegaso made the decision to revert to alloy for the coachwork. There was one of these ENASA bodied cars from 19051 here.

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Coachbuilder Touring then ‘beautified’ the design, replacing the grille with a two-piece cross, lowering the car, repositioning the foglights, and simplifying various details to give it a clean profile, similar to the contemporary Aston-Martin DB2 and Lancia Aurelia. The Z-102 employed racing-car technology in its chassis and alloy body. Everything was produced in-house, with the exception of the external coachwork, with bodies made by Touring, Saoutchik or Serra, although the very early Z-102 cars do have Pegaso-made bodies. The first Z-102s had an all alloy 4 cam 2.5 litre engine as used in the prototypes, though later there were variants with 2.8 and 3.2 DOHC 32 valve V8s, with multiple carburettors and the option of a optional supercharger. Power output ranged from 175 to 360 bhp. and there was a five-speed gearbox. The fastest could reach 155 mph, making it the world’s fastest production car at the time. The base model had an 120 mph (192 km/h) top speed. However, the cars were heavy and brutish to drive and competition success was virtually non-existent. Because the cars were built on a cost-no-object basis, this caused financial difficulty in the company. A simplified and cheaper version, the Z-103 with 3.9, 4.5 and 4.7 litre engines, was put into production, but to no avail, and the Z-102 was discontinued after 1958. Just 86 of the Z-102 cars were produced, and out of these, only a handful of cabriolets were built, and there were a further 26 Z-103 models, a grand total of 112 Pegaso models. With 12 of them here, that’s over 10% of total production! These are the Touring bodied cars.

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And here are the Saoutchik cars.

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Most dramatic of all the cars was the Thrill show-car, built for Eva Peron. Sporting a Touring body, this red car has been in a private collection in Spain ever since it was last seen in Paris in 1955.

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It lives with two other Pedro Serra bodied Pegaso, both of which were also here. One was used in the film “A Spanish Affair”, and has been undergoing a restoration for the last 33 years. The other, restoration of which finished just a week before the show, was originally owned by Spanish racing driver Polo Villaamil, who ended up racing a Portuguese nobleman and Ferrari enthusiast, the Marquis de la Frontera from a restaurant in Madrid to the ENASA factory where the cars were built. to settle an argument on which was best. They both went off the road at the same hairpin and de la Frontera was killed. The Pegaso, originally a Touring Berlinetta, was rebodied when it was repaired, using a Serra body to keep the car 100% Spanish and to avoid import duty.

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The display included one of only two surviving Le Mans racers, which pulled out of the 1953 24 hours after an accident in qualifying nearly killed star driver Juan Jover.

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Two further Pegaso cars were at the show, for sale. One of these was what is believed to be the oldest surviving example of the marque and the other was another Z-102 with the Touring body which has been used for competition in both the UK and in Europe.

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As with the other remaining French Manufacturers, Citroen and Renault, Peugeot put on quite a show in their home market, and they always have a huge stand with lots of cars carefully selected from their own collection (many of which are on display in the very impressive Aventure Peugeot in their hometown of Sochaux in the south east of the country) supplemented by brand new cars where appropriate, and with representatives of the model specific Owners Clubs populating “their” sections of the stand  This year there was chance to celebrate a number of anniversaries with the 402, 403, 204 and 604 all ten years apart and celebrating 70, 60, 50 and 40 years respectively.

Oldest of the anniversary car was the 402, a large family car produced following its unveiling at the Paris Motor Show in 1935 until 1942. It replaced the Peugeot 401. The 402 was characterised by what became during the 1930s a “typically Peugeot” front end, with headlights well set back behind the grille. The style of the body was reminiscent of the Chrysler Airflow, and received in France the soubriquet “Fuseau Sochaux” which loosely translates as “Sochaux spindle”. Streamlining was a feature of French car design in the 1930s, as can be seen by comparing the Citroën Traction Avant or some of the Bugatti models of the period with predecessor models: Peugeot was among the first volume manufacturers to apply streamlining to the extent exemplified by the 402 and smaller Peugeot 202 in a volume market vehicle range. Recessed ‘safety’ door handles also highlighted the car’s innovative aspirations, as did the advertised automatic transmission and diesel engine options. Comparisons with Citroën’s large family car of the time were and remain unavoidable. In that comparison, the two approaches were different: the Citroen was mechanically advanced but looked very like many of its contemporaries whereas the Peugeot looked futuristic but the basic underpinnings of the 402 remained conventional, based on known technologies, and presumably were relatively inexpensive to develop and manufacture. It was Citroën that in 1934 had been forced to sell its car manufacturing business to its largest creditor. The car was launched with a four-cylinder water-cooled engine of 1991 cc with poppet valves and a three speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels. The option of a Cotal three-speed automatic was offered,  but this was an elaborate system more commonly seen on upmarket models from the likes of Delahaye and Delage. Priced in 1937 as a 2,500 Franc option, it was too expensive to appeal to most 402 buyers. With its claimed 55 hp the standard bodied car could achieve a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) at 4,000 rpm.In 1938 the capacity was raised to 2142 cc with the introduction of the Peugeot 402B, stated output now being 60 hp.Given the wide range of body lengths and styles offered, there was and is correspondingly wide range of different performance figures quoted for the standard-engined 402. Other engine versions existed, with a claimed output of 70 bhp for a Darl’mat bodied performance coupe version. Peugeot had been making diesel engines in the north, at their Lille engine plant, since 1928, for use in boats, railcars and agricultural tractors. By 1936 the manufacturer had readied their HL50 series diesel engine for installation in light commercial vehicles. French regulations at the time did not permit the fitting of diesel engines in road vehicles except for trucks and commercial vehicles, and even for their relatively cautious approach to diesel power for the 402 it was necessary for Peugeot to obtain a special dispensation from the authorities. By the final weeks of 1938 several prototype 402s had been fitted with the HL50 diesel unit already being used for light trucks. During the early months of 1939 several dozen long bodied 402 “conduite interieure” saloons were fitted with diesel engines and sold into the taxi trade. The HL50 engine used was a 2,300 cc unit with a claimed power output of 55 hp. Had the diesel powered version entered production the 402 would have been one of the very first diesel saloons available commercially. Fuel economy quoted for the 2.3 litre diesel unit was approximately 33% better than that for the 2.1 litre petrol powered 402. By the time war broke out, approximately 12, and possibly several dozen, diesel powered Peugeot 402s were in existence, but only one diesel powered 402 chassis still survived by the time the war came to an end. The development work was not wasted, however, and in 1959 Peugeot would launch one of the world’s earlier diesel powered saloons, albeit beaten to the market by Mercedes Benz. Sticking to a traditional separate chassis configuration also made it much easier for Peugeot’s 402 to be offered with a wide range of different bodies. Even by 1930s standards, the range of different 402 models based on the single chassis was large, comprising at one stage, by one estimate, sixteen different body types, from expensive steel bodied convertible cars, to family saloons which were among the most spacious produced in France. An aspect of the all-steel car bodies that became mainstream among the larger European automakers in the 1930s was the very high initial cost associated with the heavy steel presses and the dies needed to cut and stamp pressed steel sheeting into the panels that, when welded together, would form a sufficiently rigid and robust car body. The wide range of car bodies was therefore carefully devised to maximise the sharing of panels between the different body variants listed. There were three different standard wheelbases of 113 in (short), 124 in (“normal”) and 130 in (long). At launch, there were just two chassis lengths, but for 1937 the manufacturer added a third “short” chassis, inherited from the short-lived Peugeot 302. The short chassis was used from 1937 for the Peugeot 402 Légère, a model which was first exhibited in July 1937 and which featured on the Peugeot stand in place of the Peugeot 302 at that year’s October Motor Show. The car combined the 113 in wheelbase and body from the Peugeot 302 with the larger 1991 cc engine of the Peugeot 402. Whereas the 302 had produced a maximum output of 43 hp at 4,000 rpm, maximum power for the 402 Légère was listed as 55 hp still at 4,000 rpm. That translated into a difference in listed top speed between 105 km/h (65 mph) and 125 km/h (78 mph). The simple formula of combining one existing bodyshell with another engine that was also already in production enabled the manufacturer to produce an attractively brisk car with minimum investment. Approximately 11,000 were produced. From the outside the 402 Légère was initially virtually indistinguishable from the 302.  However, on the front grille, whereas on the 302 the hole for the starting handle corresponded with the central digit in the car’s name spelled out on bottom part of the front grille, on the 402 Légère it was necessary to position the hole for the starting handle below the “402” name badge because the engine itself was positioned very slightly higher. An improvement over the 302 available to the driver, albeit only at extra cost, was the option of a Cotal pre-selector transmission, which could be controlled using a selector lever positioned directly behind the steering wheel, so that the driver needed to move his/her hand only minimally in order to change gear. Although sources tend to refer to the 402 Légère as a single model, there was nevertheless a choice of at least three bodies. Priced at 24,900 Francs in October 1937 was the four door “402 Légère berline” using the body already familiar from the 302. Not ready for presentation at the 1937 show, but nevertheless already priced (at 30,900 Francs) and advertised was the 402 Légère “coach”, which was a stylish thinner looking 2-door four seater car shaped somewhere between a sedan/saloon and coupe, with “glass on glass” side windows (allowing for the possibility, with the windows open, of a “pillarless” side profile) and front seats that tilted to permit access to the adequately spacious rear of the passenger cabin. Represented at the motor show by a prototype which differed in certain details from the cars that actually appeared a few months later was the 402 Légère “décapotable” priced at 31,900 Francs. Both the “coach” and the “décapotable” bodied cars featured a slightly more streamlined look than the “berline”, and their stylishness was enhanced by “spats” covering the upper portions of the rear wheels. The standard bodied berline, first presented at the Paris Motor Show in the late Autumn of 1935 sat on the “normal” 124 in chassis and was advertised as a six-seater, the passengers being accommodated in two rows on bench seats in what was, by the standards of the time and place, an unusually wide car. The four door “berline” came as a “6 glaces” (“six-light” or three windows on each side) saloon In 1936 the price list showed the saloon as the least expensive of the “normal” wheelbase 402s, priced from 23,900 francs. Closely resembling the 402 berline “6 glaces”, at first sight, was the 402 “normale commerciale” also offering seating for six people accommodated in two rows.  However, at the back, in place of the more usual panels, the “commerciale” featured a two piece tailgate. The rear of the cabin was described as being “transformable pour transport de marchandises” (transformable for transport of goods) which presumably would have involved lifting out the rear seat. Later on there were also 402 commerciales exhibited with semi-squared off rear roof lines along the lines of a steel bodied station wagon/estate car conversion, but most of the 402 commerciales shared, from the side, the silhouette of the 402 saloon, presumably in order to avoid the cost of tooling up for volume-style production of a relatively small number of uniquely shaped body panels. Other models appearing on the “normal” wheelbase at the 1936 show included a Grand-luxe berline with a sliding steel sun roof, a 4/5 seater 2-door soft-top cabriolet priced in October 1936 at 30,900 francs, a 5/6 seater “coach” (elegant two door saloon) priced at 29,900 francs, a 2/3 seater roadster at 27,900 francs and a “coupé transformable Éclipse” which was a steel roofed convertible priced at 34,900 francs. One of the cars here was a Berline.

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The Éclipse was significant as the first of many Peugeot coupes with a steel roof that would fold and stow in the boot/trunk. The retractable hardtop mechanism had been designed, and in 1931 patented, by Georges Paulin: the mechanism was bulky by more recent standards and necessitated a very long tail end. Despite the generous length of the 124 in wheelbase, this first application of the technology came with just two seats. Interest in the Éclipse resurfaced more than half a century later with the “reinvention” of the retractable hardtop by the 1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder and subsequent popularisation of the concept by cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class. Several of the body types were priced (and presumably costed) to be produced in relatively low volumes, and despite appearing at the Motor Show in October 1936, three had been delisted by the start of 1937. The delisted variants were the 5/6 seater “coach”, the 4/5 2-door soft-top cabriolet and the steel roofed “Coupé transformable Éclipse”, although the third of these had already been effectively replaced in 1936 by a similar, but even longer, steel roofed convertible Éclipse, now with seating for 4/5 people and using the longest of the 402’s three chassis lengths The principal “long” Peugeot 402 in 1935 was the “402 Familiale”, closely resembling the “normal” length six light “berline, but with extra length used in the rear of the cabin to accommodate a third row of seats (“strapontins escamotables”) which could be folded away when not in use. By the time of the 1937 Motor show, in time for the 1938 model year, the 402 commerciale had also migrated from the “normal” to the “long wheelbase”. In addition, the manufacturer advertised a special taxi version of the long wheel base car, closely resembling the familiale and of which, it was boasted in 1937, several thousand were already in service “in Paris and the [other] principal towns and cities in France or the colonies”. Peugeot were slightly unusual among principal auto-makers at this time in never having acquired a Paris taxi business themselves, but the 402 taxi had nevertheless evidently been well received by independent taxi operators. Much attention at the 1936 show also focused on the “402 cabriolet metallique decouvrable” which was a reincarnation of the Éclipse, but now using the 130 in “long” wheel base which made enough space for a (rather cramped) second bench seat. Light commercial van and utility variants of the 402 were also produced (or derived from conversion), and during the car’s final years, during World War II, assumed increasing prominence within the range. France declared war on Germany in 1939 and after this date cabriolet and convertible versions of the 402 disappeared from the price lists. The April 1940 price list shows only the standard bodied and long wheelbase saloons. Peugeot only became a regular supplier to the army in 1938, but during 1939 and 1940 several thousand 202s and 402s were operating with the armed services, the long wheel base 402 being a particular military favourite. Approximately 75,000 402s were produced during the seven or more years of production. As well as the Eclipse model on the stand, there was another one elsewhere in the show.

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The Peugeot 403, introduced in 1955, approximately thirteen years after the demise of the 402, can be seen as the older car’s natural heir. Immediately after World War II the market demanded smaller cars, and Peugeot acknowledged this by concentrating during the late 1940s and early 1950s on their 202 and 203 models.  The 403 made its debut in saloon body style on 20 April 1955 at the Trocadéro Palace in Paris. For several months before it was launched numerous 403s, their badges removed, were circulating on the local roads near the manufacturer’s PSA Sochaux factory, becoming so familiar that the locals no longer noticed them, but still attracting from Paris motoring journalists and photographers to a town that usually was of little interest to the national media. Styled by Pininfarina, the 403 featured ponton, three-box styling incorporating, except on the most basic models, an opening roof panel. The collaboration with Pininfarina marked the start of a partnership which would see the Italian designer producing designs for Peugeot, including those many mainstream volume models, for more than fifty years.  Regarding the 403 itself there were persistent rumours that the design was one originally intended for a replacement Fiat 1900 which had been rejected when Turin had decided to defer replacement of the Fiat for another four years. Unusual in Europe at the time, but appreciated by customers, was the way that the rear doors opened wide – to a full 90 degrees. Also unusual were the windows in the rear doors that opened fully into the door frame to the point where they disappeared, despite the intrusion into the door frame of a wheel arch which must have made the fit of the window when opened very marginal. The 403 came with an enlarged version of the Peugeot 203’s 1290 cc petrol engine. Displacing 1468 cc, the straight-four unit employed pushrod-actuated valves and hemispherical combustion chambers and a crossflow cylinder head to produce 65 hp at about 5,000 rpm and 75 lb·ft (of torque at 2,500 rpm. An unusual feature at the time was the thermostatically controlled engine fan which cut out when the engine temperature fell to 75°C and re-engaged when the engine temperature increased to 84°C.Claimed advantages included an improvement in fuel consumption of between 5% and 10% according to average speed and the avoidance, under many conditions, of fan noise. Another little noticed but ingenious feature involved a small hot water based heating device for the carburettor linked to the heater for the passenger cabin in such a manner that it operated only when the driver turned on the heater and not when the ambient temperature was high enough for the heater to be left off. The TN3 engine size gave the car a “tax horsepower” of 8 CV (8 hp), which placed it a class below the soon-to-be-replaced 11 CV Citroën Traction, but at least one class above the small cars produced by the principal competitor manufacturers. The 403 came with a manual 4-speed all-synchromesh transmission driving the rear wheels. The gear change lever stuck out from the right side of the steering column. For the Paris Motor Show in October 1957 the manufacture offered, at extra cost, an electro-magnetic Jaeger automatic clutch, activated when changing gear, but this was too costly to find many buyers. The wheelbase was lengthened by 10 inches to create the five door Peugeot 403 “Familiale” and “Commerciale” estate versions. The Familiale provided a third row of seats and was described as a 7/8 seater while the Commerciale offered a more conventional seat configuration for an estate car. The lengthened 403 estate had a solid rear axle fitted to an aluminium differential case. It came with a manual column change gearbox and, in its “Familiale” guise, fully reclinable front seats. Sunroof and steel belted radial tyres were standard. A diesel powered Peugeot 403 estate was introduced in the Autumn of 1958, the first of a long line, followed by a diesel saloon a year later. Although the car was subject to various improvements during the production run, these were mostly very minor in nature. Improvements for 1959 included moving the nozzles for the windscreen washer from the strip of metal between the base of the windscreen and the bonnet/hood a short distance to the rear edge of the bonnet/hood itself, thus presumably improving the angles at which the washer water hit the screen. This was also the year that the semi-circular ring inside the lower half of the diameter of the steering wheel used to operate the horn was replaced by a full circular horn-ring, so that drivers accustomed to holding the upper half of the steering wheel did not need to loosen their grip in order to sound the horn. Upon the 203’s discontinuation in 1960, a 47 hp version of its 1290 cc powerplant became available as an option on a reduced specification version of the 403, branded initially as the “403 Sept” (“7”) and soon afterwards as the “403 Berline Luxe”. Car tax in France was based on engine size, and the smaller engined 403 fell within the 7CV taxation class rather than the 8CV of the bigger version. . A two-door cabriolet version of the car was also offered, with a luxurious interior featuring high quality leather upholstery. In 1958 the 403 cabriolet cost 80% more than the entry level “berline grand luxe” 403 sedan, and presumably for this reason the convertible 403 was produced and sold only in very modest numbers. In the spring of 1961 production of the 403 cabriolet came to an end, in anticipation of the launch later that year of the manufacturer’s 404 Cabriolet. 2-door pickup and 3-door van commercial variants of the 403 were also produced. On display here were a regular 403 Berline and a Cabrio model.

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There were more examples of the 204, marking its Half Century, than any of the other models, and that seemed somehow appropriate as this car was France’s best seller for a part of its 11 year production life. The Peugeot 204 is a small family car produced by the French manufacturer Peugeot between 1965 and 1976.  It was launched in Paris, France on 23 April 1965 and was Peugeot’s first venture into the world of front wheel drive. The car came with a single overhead cam aluminium alloy transversely-mounted 1130 cc petrol engine (the maximum allowed for the 6CV ‘car tax’ class in France at the time), a format which would become the sine qua non of small cars over the next few years, but which was relatively unusual  in the mid 60s. The gearbox and differential were located directly below the engine block, and the 204 was also the first Peugeot to be equipped with disc brakes, albeit only on the front wheels. It was praised for its excellent handling, decent performance and good fuel economy. The compact engine and the transverse engine combined with a body wider than the class average to provide a level of interior space comparable to larger cars such as Peugeot’s own 404: both cars were Pininfarina designs. The 204 featured neither the fins of the 404 nor the sharp corners characteristic of the other major French launch of 1965. The resulting less aggressive look has been seen as a ‘more European’ moving away from a tendency to follow US styling trends that had been apparent in new car launches during the preceding two decades. The Peugeot 204’s frontal styling owed much to the 1961 Cadillac Jacqueline by Pininfarina, whilst its rear and that of the prototype Pininfarina styled Mini-based MG ADO 34 of 1964 are strikingly similar. The rear end of the 1970 Lancia Flavia Pininfarina Coupe of 1969–74 also displays the same influence. The options list was not extensive but, as with the larger Peugeot sedans, it was possible to specify a sliding steel panel sunroof. At launch only the four-door saloon version was offered, but the five-door ‘break’ estate came along less than six months later in the Autumn of 1965. 1966 saw the arrival of a two-door cabriolet and a three-door hatchback, marketed as a coupé. Both employed a shortened chassis and were priced only 20% above the level of the (admittedly not particularly aggressively priced) saloon. The range was completed in 1966 with the arrival of the ‘fourgonette’ van version which in most respects followed the design of the estate, but with only one door on each side and a steel panel in place of the side windows behind the B pillar. Towards the end of 1968, a 1255 cc diesel engine option became available for the 204 Estate and Fourgonette (van) versions. At the time, this is thought to have been the smallest diesel engine fitted in a commercially available car anywhere in the world. In April 1973 the diesel unit was increased in size to 1357 cc, and in September 1975 this diesel unit finally became an option on the 204 saloon. Fuel economy on the 204 Diesel was startlingly good, with overall fuel consumption at 5.7 litres per 100 km, but performance was correspondingly underwhelming with a claimed top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). Out of the approximately 150,000 diesel 204s produced, fewer than 30,000 were saloons. When the Peugeot 204 was launched in 1965, obvious domestic market competitors were the Renault 10 and the Simca 1300. Both were rear-wheel-drive, and the Renault was rear-engined. Of the traditionally more avant garde competitors, Citroën produced, till 1970, only cars that were substantially smaller or substantially larger while Panhard, starved of product investment, had retreated into a low volume niche, offering a model which would soon be withdrawn in order to free up production capacity for small Citroën vans. For Peugeot, a traditional manufacturer of conventional bourgeois sedans, to launch a transverse-engined front-wheel-drive saloon, was startling: no secret was made of the extent to which the 204 had been inspired by British developments from BMC. The Peugeot was the same length as the Renault 10 and over 20 cm shorter than the Simca 1300, but its configuration conferred a clear space advantage, as subsequent model introductions from Simca in 1967 and Renault in 1970 appeared to acknowledge. Sales of the 204 got off to a cautious start, with no need to compete solely on price: the car was heavily trailed by press leaks so that by the time of its formal announcement over 5,000 had already been ordered unseen. By 1969 the 204 had nonetheless climbed to the top of the French sales charts and, together with the newly introduced 204 based 304, redefined the domestic market for small sedans in the process. The sales success of the 204 also moved Peugeot from fourth to second place in the French sales charts, overtaking Simca and Citroen in the process. In this case market share seems to have been increased without excessively compromising corporate profitability: the commercial rivals would each suffer a financial collapse, the businesses both coming under the control of Peugeot, within the next ten years. In the 1960s Europe was still for most purposes divided into national markets and 72% of the 204s produced were sold in France. Principal export markets within Europe were West Germany and Benelux. However, most western European markets took some 204s. In Africa the 204 never achieved the popularity of its larger siblings. Nevertheless, the 204 was not entirely unknown outside Europe. In the UK, the car was expensive. Launch cars listed at £903 when you could buy a much more plush Triumph 1300 for £835, so whilst the car was praised by the press for its dynamic attributes, its meagre levels of equipment were also an impediment to sales. 1969 had seen the launch of the Peugeot 304 which was essentially a 204 with a slightly larger engine, a restyled front end and, in the case of the saloon version, a substantially increased rear overhang giving rise to more luggage space. The 204 range was correspondingly pruned: the 204 coupé and cabriolet received the dashboard of the new 304 in 1969 only to be withdrawn in 1970, replaced by similarly bodied 304 equivalents. The estate and fourgonette continued to be offered, along with the saloon, until the 204 range was withdrawn in 1976. Although the model run lasted more than a decade, the Peugeot 204 changed very little during that time: very early saloons/berlines had a split rear bumper with numberplate set between the two halves, a flat rear panel and small oval tail lights. For 1975, the stainless steel front grill was replaced by a black plastic grill of the same overall shape. The gearshift for RHD UK cars was moved from the steering column to the floor and then in September 1975, less than a year before production ceased, it received a more modern petrol engine, now of 1127 cc. Claimed maximum output, which at launch had been 53 bhp, increased to 59 bhp, though there was a marginal reduction in maximum torque. Following the demise of the 204 the new 1127 cc engine found its way into a version of the Peugeot 304 estate: the smaller engine enjoyed in France tax benefits when compared to the 1290 cc engines fitted to most 304s. In 1976, when the 204 was withdrawn, it had been joined in the Peugeot range by the ‘supermini’ class Peugeot 104. Like the 203 before it, the 204 had no immediate replacement. Ultimately the hatchback Peugeot 205 introduced late in 1982 occupied a market position comparable to that occupied till 1976 by the 204. In the meantime the Peugeot 304 soldiered on until 1980, complemented since late 1977 by its 305 replacement. Once the 304 was being produced in tandem with its successor it could be priced more aggressively, so that customers who till 1976 would have chosen a 204 were able to afford what was virtually the same car with a larger engine and a larger boot.  On display here were examples of the 204 Saloon and Cabrio, the Coupe and a Van,  as well as a 204-like children’s pedal car and a prototype model.

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10 years its junior was the 604. Designed by Pininfarina, the 604 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1975, and it immediately drew praise for its formal, handsome styling. Sales began in September 1975. The car was based on the established 504 model, using its bulkhead, doors, and part of the floorpan, but under the bonnet was the new 144 PS 2.7-litre V6 Douvrin PRV engine, developed in conjunction with Renault and Volvo, It was Peugeot’s first entry into the large luxury saloon market for 40 years, the last having been the short-lived Peugeot 601 of 1934.  France’s car manufacturers had had not much success internationally in the executive segment since then, but it was felt that building a car that was bigger and more costly than the 504 was viable owing to the increased affluence of the French market which Peugeot felt could accommodate a car more expensive than the 504. Price at launch was in the UK was sold ₤4,785, which compared to ₤4,399 for a BMW 520, ₤4,361 for a Citroën CX Pallas, and ₤3,485 for a Ford Granada 3000 GL. The 604 was introduced during the recession caused by the 1973 energy crisis, which created a marketplace that was even more unfriendly to large-engined cars in France, but even so over 36,000 cars were built in the first full year of production, and the car was praised for its many strengths which included a well damped and supple ride, equal to a contemporary Jaguar XJ6, its “good handling”, its spacious passenger compartment and highly rated steering described as “a model of its kind”,  “highly accurate” and “one of the finest yet produced”. The 604 had unusually wide opening doors which made entry and egress very easy for users. This was especially appropriate for the car in its role as a limousine. Originally available in a single specification, as the 604 SL, there was a choice of a four speed manual or a three speed automatic gearbox and a small list of optional equipment items. The 604 was launched in the US in 1977, with twin rectangular headlights and larger bumpers, but few were sold and the car did not last long in that market, fading away by about 1980, though the car was available for some time after that. In September 1978, the somewhat quicker 604 TI model with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and a five-speed manual transmission was added to the range. The initial sales momentum was not maintained, though, and with he launch of the similarly sized but cheaper Peugeot 505 in 1979 along with another oil crisis, sales of the V6-engined 604 halved. Peugeot did launch some detuned economy versions of the 604, but they did not do much to increase the car’s overall sales. Most surprisingly, an 80hp four cylinder turbodiesel version, with four or five speed manual or three speed automatic transmission had been introduced at the 1978 Geneva Motor Show, alongside the expected 305 D. The 604 D Turbo was the the first production turbodiesel car to be sold in Europe, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SD having been marketed in North America since 1977. The model used the 80 PS 2,304 cc Indénor Diesel engine familiar from the popular 504 GLD, but with a turbo fitted. This was a reliable engine, overshadowed by one major problem. Like many diesel engines of the time they were hard to start in the cold weather, the 604 was one of the worst with this problem, it was a very difficult car to start and some owners ensured it was parked on a hill to get around this. However, some minor tweaks to the glow plugs and compression made the car easier to start. Peugeot initially tried to convince buyers of the upper-middle class that the 604 had “the engineering of the Mercedes-Benz 280E, the handling of the BMW 5 Series and the elegance of the Jaguar XJ6” but this assertion did not convince enough buyers of this proposition.  By 1981, only 7,000 examples were produced during the year which was when the 604 STi, with Michelin TRX tyres and alloy wheels, was introduced. From January 1981, the automatic gearboxes used in the 604 were no longer sourced from General Motors’ factory in Alsace, but rather from ZF in Germany. The existing diesel model was replaced with two different specifications, GRDT and SRDT. Total body immersion anti-corrosion treatment was also introduced across the entire range.  The diesel engine was enlarged in 1983 to a 2.5 litre unit which generated an additional 10 PS, giving it much improved performance. In 1984, the 604 GTi with a 2.8-litre engine was introduced, replacing the 2.7-litre STi and a new GTDT diesel model was introduced. Production continued until 1985, when a mere 581 examples were produced, with sales continuing into 1986. Peugeot’s next major executive car, the 605, was not launched until 1989 although a V6-engined 505 served as an interim flagship model..  Despite critical acclaim early on, the 604 was a commercial failure. Over a 10 year life, the production of 153,252 units was half that of the V8 engine Rover 3500 and an eighth of its stablemate, the CX. Peugeot made a profit on each car made, primarily because of the shared tooling and engineering with the 504, but the car ceased production without an immediate successor. Today the 604 is a very rare car in the United Kingdom – there are less than 20 that are road-legal – and even in France, the cars are not a common sight. Shown here was just one example, a 604SL

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Newly restored was this 1935 401D with coachwork by Crouzier. Delivered new in the form of a chassis of with mechanical components to Miss Jeanne Bourgeois, famous music hall singer and movie actress, better known by her stage name Mistinguett., she asked the coachwork builder Henri Crouzier to build an elegant roadster body with two seats and an elegant streamlined style. With this unique bodystyle,  this Peugeot 401 D participated in several Concours d’Elegance, such as Vichy and  at Deauville. Mechanically, the car is identical to the original production 401, with a 1720 cc in line 4 cylinder side-valve engine developing 44hp with a 3 speed gearbox propelling the rear wheels. Brakes are drum type at each wheel. The top speed was claimed at 100 kph (62 mph). Peugeot produced 13.545 examples of the 401 between September 1934 and August 1935.

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This 1922 Peugeot 163 Fourgonette was recently discovered literally embedded in some old building walls in an abandoned shed near Lyon. It is thought to have been there for 69 years.

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The 30th anniversary of the much loved 205GTi was actually last year, but that was not going to stop Peugeot marking the occasion, with examples of both the “sacred number” (as 205 advertising called the car late in its life, in France) or the limited edition 208 GTi 30th Anniversary, in the less contentious finish of pearlescent white.  There was also a particularly splendid example of the 205 Turbo 16 Group B Rally car

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Elsewhere, the 205 GTi Owners Club had another lovely example.

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Final Peugeot that I spotted was a 203 Décapotable.

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Porsche was another manufacturer with their own stand, and they took the opportunity to present the four winners of the first competition for the restoration of Classic models, along with some more recent cars. This combined to give a tantalising array of Porsche through the ages, from 356 Coupe and 356C Cabrio to a 911S, a couple of 911 (930) Turbo models, a 964 and the very latest  991 GTS.

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Perhaps the most interesting, and certainly the rarest of all the cars on the Porsche stand was this Porsche 936. Prepared for 1976 World Marque Championship, this open car had an aluminium multi-tubular chassis derived from 908 and 917; the engine was a flat six 2.142cc as specified for turbo equipped unit. It was equipped with air cooled cylinders and watercooled cylinder heads. The engine produced 520 hp. The car was the winner of the 1977 24 hours of Le Mans

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Elsewhere was another Le Mans winning model, this was a 1971 917LH. LH stood for “Lang Heck”, the German for “Long Tail”, and this design change was made to optimise the performance of the 917 at the famous Le Mans circuit.

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German dealer Axel Schuette had this fabulous 1959 718RSK for sale. The original 718 was a development of the successful Porsche 550A with improvements being made to the bodywork and suspension. The new front frame resembled the letter K if viewed from the front and this led to the car being referred to as the RSK. It had a mid-engined layout and used the 142 horsepower 1.5-litre Type 547/3 quad-cam engine introduced in the 550A. The car made its racing debut at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Umberto Maglioli and Edgar Barth. The car failed to finish the race due to an accident. In 1958, the car finished first in class and third overall at Le Mans guided by Jean Behra and Hans Herrmann. Jean Behra also brought one of the cars home second at the Targa Florio. In 1959, the car, driven by Edgar Barth and Wolfgang Seidel, claimed overall victory at the Targa Florio. A 718 also won the European Hill Climb Championship in both 1958 and 1959. In 1961 Masten Gregory and Bob Holbert piloted a 718/4 RS Spyder to a class win at Le Mans. Initially a two-seater 1.5 litre sports car, the 718 was adapted to compete in a number of different formulas and also evolved due to regulation changes, which gave rise to the RS 60 (produced for 1960), the RS61 (for the following year, though it was more or less identical to the RS6), and the 2 litre W-RS which later got an enlarged flat-8 air-cooled engine from the Porsche 804 Formula One car. The car continued its competition career until 1964.

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Officially we should call this car the GTS, as Porsche had the same naming conflict with Peugeot over this as they did with the 911 (which they had originally planned to call 901, of course), but the reality is that everyone knows this elegant machine as the 904GTS. Although on the rare occasions that you see one, it tends to look like a road car, the 904GTS owes its existence to the race track. After having withdrawn from Formula One at the end of the 1962 season, Porsche focused again on sportscar racing. The 904 debuted late in 1963, for the 1964 racing season, as a successor to the 718, which had been introduced in 1957. Porsche designed the GTS variant to compete in the FIA-GT class at various international racing events. The street-legal version, as seen here, debuted in 1964 in order to comply with Group 3 Appendix J[2] homologation regulations requiring a certain number of road-going variants be sold by the factory. Porsche produced 106 904s at four or five a day with a list price of US$7245. Orders far exceeded the one hundred car requirement to satisfy homologation rules and more cars could readily have been sold. The 904’s mid-engine layout was inherited from the 718 RSK. It was powered by the 1,966 cc Type 587/3,] four-cam flat four-cylinder engine producing 198 hp, “probably the most complex four-cylinder” ever. It drove a five-speed transmission. Begun as the Type 547, its development began in 1953, when the previous VW-based 1,100 cc  flat-four, used in the contemporary 356 hit the limit of its potential. Porsche realised it needed something all-new. The brainchild of Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann, later Technical Director, it was hoped to achieve an “unheard of” 70 hp per litre, relying on hemispherical combustion chambers and two-choke Weber carburettors to generate 112 hp from the 1,500 cc four-cam engine. The 1.5 litre weighed 310 lb dry, eventually producing 180 hp. A complex design that proved “very taxing” to build and assemble, but very durable, it was used in 34 different models, including 550 Spyders, 356 Carreras, and F2/1s. The 904 was the first Porsche to use a ladder chassis and fibreglass body, appearing more like specialist racing cars than the modified sports cars typical at the time,and was painted white. The fibreglass body was bonded to its steel chassis for extra rigidity, and achieved a drag coefficient of 0.34. While many German race cars had used unpainted aluminium bodies since the famous 1934 Silver Arrows, most 904s were painted silver, the modern German national racing colour. Unusually for Porsche, the two-seater bodies were provided by contractors, which would later become standard practice among race car builders. The 904’s fibreglass body was made by spraying chopped fibreglass into a mould, the amount sprayed often varied in thickness over the shape of the car and as a result the weight of the various cars was somewhat inconsistent; some were heavier than others. Race-prepared four-cylinder 904s weighed in at approximately 1,443 pounds (655 kg) and the low weight gave the 904 the ability to accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in less than six seconds (using the standard rear gear, which would be typical at Sebring) and to reach a top speed of 160 mph. Frontal area was only 14 sq ft. The Porsche 904 rode on coil springs (the first Porsche not to use trailing arm front and swing-axle rear suspension. To satisfy demand, twenty 1965 models were produced, some featuring a variant of the 911’s flat six,. These were known as the 904/6. Porsche also built a few factory race cars with a flat eight-cylinder power plant derived from the 1962 804 F1 car, the 225 hp 1,962 cc Type 771, but these had a “disturbing habit” of making their flywheels explode. These cars were known as the 904/8. A number of modern replica versions have been produced. This particular car was originally delivered to Stirling Moss Automobile Racing Team (SMART) and finished in light metallic green with British Racing Green wheels.

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Successor to the Porsche 904, and designed under Ferdinand Piëch’s new regime at Porsche R&D, was the 906 which  replaced the boxed steel structure of the 904 which used its  fibreglass body for extra structural strength with a tubular space frame and unstressed fibreglass body. The fibreglass itself was laid up by hand, producing consistent results, instead of the uneven spraying technique used on the 904. The result was a car that weighed 580 kg (1,280 lb), approximately 113 kg (250 lb) lighter than the 904/6 (the 6-cylinder 904). The engine regularly fitted was the 901/20 6-cylinder lightweight racing engine with 220 hp and carburettors, although some examples that were raced by the factory team received fuel-injected or 8-cylinder engines, especially in hillclimbing events where Porsche competed with Ferrari Dinos for the European championship. It was announced in January 1966 and 50 examples were subsequently produced, thus meeting the homologation requirements of the FIA’s new Group 4 Sports Car category to the letter. The type would also compete in modified form in the Group 6 Sports Prototype class. In its debut in the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona, the Carrera 6 finished 6th overall, and won its class against Ferrari Dino 206 Ps. At the 12 Hours of Sebring, Hans Herrmann/Gerhard Mitter finished fourth overall and won the class, as at the 1000 km of Monza. 906s recorded class victories at the 1000 km Spa and the 1000 km Nürburgring and a privately entered 906 secured an overall victory at the 1966 Targa Florio when the factory cars failed. At the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 906 placed 4-5-6-7 behind three Ford GT40 Mk IIs, outlasting all of the previously dominant V12-engined Ferrari Ps. Unlike previous racing Porsches, the 906’s body had been tested in a wind tunnel, resulting in a top speed of 280 km/h (170 mph) at Le Mans, quite fast for a 2-litre engine car. In order to save money, spare suspensions produced in advance for a possible new series of Porsche 904 had to be used for the 906, along with big 15-inch wheels. Yet, Formula One used lighter 13-inch wheels, and Porsche had already used Team Lotus suspension parts in earlier years. The wheels were bolted on with 5 nuts as in a road car, which cost time in pitstops compared to a single central nut. To take advantage of the lighter wheels and F1 tyres, the Porsche 910 was developed and entered in mid-season of 1966, starting with the hillclimb from Sierre to Crans-Montana in Switzerland. There were a couple of 906 Carrera 6 cars here – not a sight you will see very often.

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Also present was a 908 Carrera. This was overtly a racing car, introduced in 1968 to continue the Porsche 906/Porsche 910/Porsche 907 series of models designed under Ferdinand Piech As the FIA had announced rule changes for Group 6 Prototype-Sports Cars limiting engine displacement to 3000 cc, as in Formula One, Porsche designed the 908 as the first Porsche sports car to have an engine with the maximum size allowed. The previous Porsche 907 only had a 2200 cc flat-8 engine with 270 hp. The new 3-litre Flat-8 engine produced initially 350 hp at 8400 rpm, as well as some teething problems. Also, being traditionally air-cooled and with only 2 valves per cylinder, it was still down on power compared to more modern F1 designs which delivered over 400 hp, but were not suited to endurance racing. The 908 originally was a closed coupe to provide low drag at fast tracks, but from 1969 on was mainly raced as the 908/2, a lighter open spyder. A more compact 908/3 was introduced in 1970 to complement the heavy Porsche 917 on twisty tracks that favoured nimble cars, like Targa Florio and Nürburgring. Sold off to privateers for 1972, various 908s were entered until the early 1980s, often retro-fitted with Porsche 934-based 2.1-litre turbocharged flat 6 engines. The model seen here is one of those early closed Coupe cars.

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The car that started Porsche’s career in motorsport, of course, was the 550 Spyder. Inspired by the Porsche 356 which was created by Ferry Porsche, some spyder prototypes of which had been built and raced by Walter Glöckler starting in 1951, the factory decided to build a car designed specifically for racing. The result was the Porsche 550 Spyder, which was introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. The 550 was very low to the ground, in order to be efficient for racing. In fact, former German Formula One racer Hans Herrmann drove it under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia. The first three hand built prototypes came in a coupé with a removable hardtop. The first (550-03) raced as a roadster at the Nurburgring Eifel Race in May 1953 winning its first race. Over the next couple of years, The Werks Porsche team evolved and raced the 550 with outstanding success and was recognised wherever it appeared. The Werks cars were provided with differently painted tail fins to aid recognition from the pits. Hans Herrmann’s particularly famous ‘red-tail’ car No 41 went from victory to victory. Porsche was the first car manufacturer to get race sponsorship which was through Fletcher Aviation, who Porsche was working with to design a light aircraft engine and then later adding Telefunken and Castrol. The Porsche 550 Spyder became an active participant around the European and US championship circuit between 1953 and as late as 1965 starting in over 370 races. With approximately 95 overall wins along with an additional 75 class wins, the Spyder dominated against more powerful cars not even in its class. With a mix of international drivers from Jack McAfee, Ken Miles and Wolfgang Seidel to legends such as Huschke von Hanstein, Helmut Glöckler, Hans Herrmann and Richard von Frankenberg, the Spyder was well represented at famous circuits around the world. From the tracks of Avus, Nürburgring, Le Mans and the Targa Florio in Europe to the more active competitive circuits found in the US at Sebring, Palm Springs and Lime Rock, the Spyder which became the race car of choice for privateers, soon earned the reputation as the ‘Giant Killer’. For such a limited number of builds, the 550 Spyder was always in a winning position, usually finishing in the top three results in its class. The beauty of the 550 was that it could be driven to the track, raced and then driven home, which showed the flexibility of being both a road and track car. Each Spyder was individually designed and customised to be raced and although from the pits it was difficult to identify the sometimes six 550s in the race, the aid of colouring tail spears along the rear wheel fenders, enabled the teams to see their cars. The racing Spyders were predominantly silver in colour, similar to the factory colour of the Mercedes, but there were other splashes of blue, red, yellow and white making up the Porsche palette on the circuit. Each Spyder was assigned a number for the race and had gumballs positioned on doors, front and rear, to be seen from any angle. On some 550s owned by privateers, a crude hand written number scrawled in house paint usually served the purpose. Cars with high numbers assigned such as 351, raced in the 1000 mile Mille Miglia, where the number represented the start time of 3.51am. On most occasions, numbers on each Spyder would change for each race entered, which today helps identify the 550 by chassis number and driver in these classic black and white photos. The later 1956 evolution version of the model, the 550A, which had a lighter and more rigid spaceframe chassis, gave Porsche its first overall win in a major sports car racing event, the 1956 Targa Florio. Its successor from 1957 onwards, the Porsche 718, commonly known as the RSK, seen above in this report,  was even more successful.  Perhaps the most famous of the first 90 Porsche 550’s built was James Dean’s “Little Bastard” numbered 130 (VIN 550-0055) which Dean fatally crashed into Donald Turnupseed’s 1950 Ford Custom at the CA Rt. 46/41 Cholame Junction on September 30, 1955  These days, the 550 is among the most frequently reproduced classic automobiles, with numerous firms having made modern replicas. But seen here is a genuine and original car, the Porsche 550A that finished fifth overall at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1958, the best-ever result at Circuit de la Sarthe for a 550A Spyder.

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The 356 is a popular classic, and there were  lot of examples, both displayed individually on various dealer stands and also collectively where the entire stand comprised examples of the model.

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Needless to say, there were also lots of 911 models on show, many of them for sale, with plenty of early cars as well as a Carrera RS and the later Speedster among them.

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Shown by London-based dealer Fiskens was this Porsche 911 RSR Prototype. Eight such cars were build and they were known as R1 to R8. This is R7, which ran in all the major 1973 Sports Car races – Spa 1000km, Nurburgring 1000km and Le Mans 24 Hours where, driven by Gijs van Lennep and Herbie Mullerm it finished fourth overall.  After the European races the car went to the US in the hands of Brumos racing to compete in Watkins Glenn and Daytona and then it headed off to Mexico where it was barely seen for many years, before coming back to France. Today the car is finished in the iconic Martini team colours, to reflect its biggest success, the 1973 Le Mans entry.

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Like the other current French car makers, Renault had a huge stand, with many of the display cars coming from the firm’s own “Histoire et Collection”, a vast assembly of historic road and sporting cars which are stored away from public view, but which La Regie does ship to events around the world on special occasions. not available . Star turn this year was the R16, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015, and to mark the occasion, a number of R16s were assembled together on the stand, showing the progression of this car which was once a very common sight on UK roads as well French ones, but which is a real rarity these days. By the early 1960s, Renault was building a series of small cars, like the hatchback Renault R4 and the slightly larger  rear engined Renault Dauphine. They had built a much larger model, the Frégate, between 1951–1960, but with a  modest production total of 163,383 units, it had not been replaced. A number of design studies were produced, as with people gaining more money after the lean years of the 1950s, it was clear that there was a market for large family cars in France, which rivals Citroen, with their DS and Peugeot with the 404 were dominating. Renault conceived a car that would be a bit smaller, and quite a bit cheaper than the Citroen, aiming at a gap in that marque’s model range. Whether they knew it or not at the time is unclear but we no know that Citroen themselves were planning to fill the gap between the 2CV/Ami and the much larger ID and DS. It was called Proket F, but when they got word of what Renault were planning, Citroen cancelled their car. That left the field clear for Renault. Under the skin, the layout of the R16 actually owed quite a lot of the much older Citroën Traction Avant – front-wheel drive, engine mounted inline behind the transmission. torsion bar suspension, and column mounted gearlever. In addition the car had an aluminium engine and an electric cooling fan, both technical innovations. The big innovation, however, was the modern, practical bodystyle – introducing the hatchback to the mid size family segment. This allowed the interior to be immensely flexible, and could be configured in seven different ways. This body style was halfway between a saloon and an estate, and, before the term hatchback was coined, journalists struggled to describe it. A review in the English Motoring Illustrated in May 1965 stated: “The Renault Sixteen can thus be described as a large family car but one that is neither a four door saloon and nor is it quite an estate. But, importantly, it is a little different.” One peculiarity of the R16, and the later Renault R5, is that the two back wheel axles shafts are not in-line. The left wheelbase is 70 mm (2.76 in) longer than the right wheelbase, to accommodate the torsion bar suspension. This and the soft front seats gives the car a particularly smooth ride even over big bumps. The suspension had the longest travel on a car of this size; if the handbrake was applied and reverse gear engaged, the rear bumper would rise about one foot. The engine was mounted north-south in the front, behind the gearbox/transaxle. This contributed to the handling and balance of this car by keeping the weight closer to the centre of the car. Traditional front drive layouts are either east-west or in some cases north-south but with the engine in front of the transmission. Although this north-south/forward gearbox layout gave excellent handling, servicing access to the engine was so difficult that the Renault 16’s successor, the Renault 20, kept the north-south layout but put the engine ahead of the gearbox. Gear changing was performed by means of a column-mounted lever which allowed for a more spacious front cabin, Column changes were fairly rare by the 1960s, but the design was forced on Renault by the position of the transmission in front of the engine.

Pre-launch publicity was extensive, with semi-authorised media leaks. The French magazine ” L’Auto-Journal” had reported details of the car, in an exclusive report, towards the end of 1963. During October 1964, timed to coincide with the Paris Motor Show, Renault distributed photographs of its innovative new family car, still at this stage described simply as the forthcoming “Renault 1500”, for publication as “scoop” pictures in various magazines. It was only two months later that the car, now officially named a “Renault 16”, was approved for sale by the French homologation authorities. The car was shown to the world’s press in a presentation on the Côte-d’Azur in the first few days of January 1965. Series production started in March 1965 at the company’s recently completed Sandouville plant, a few kilometres to the east of Le Havre. The car had its formal launch in March 1965 at the Geneva Motor Show, and was made available for sale to the public during June 1965. Equipment levels were high for the price. Initially, Renault sold the R16 with just a 1470cc petrol engine in Grand Luxe (GL) and Super specifications,  for both of which 55 PS (54 hp) was claimed. The Renault R16 was voted European Car of the Year by a board of European motoring journalists in 1966. It was the third year of the accolade’s existence, and the Renault 16 was the first French winner of the award. Demand was strong right from the word go. Minor changes were made for 1967, when ventilation and heating were both improved, and the dashboard was redesigned. An automatically operated choke became available. These early cars are very rare now. They are most easily identified by the slightly ovoid shaped rear lights.

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At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1968, Renault presented a more powerful model, the 1565cc TS which could top 100 mph. It also featured an all-new instrument panel that included a tachometer and water temperature gauge, and many other new features including two-speed windscreen wipers, a heated rear window, passenger reading light, and optional powered windows.

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An automatic transmission version, designated the Renault 16 TA, was introduced a year later at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show. Other changes included giving the other R16 models the same wheels and brakes as the TS, and that model got standard reversing lights mounted beneath the tail-lights. The other models had them available as an optional extra. Renault started to assemble the car in Australia, to get around the punitive import restrictions in that country. By this time, the model had been launched in the US market as well, and there was one of these on show. It was not a success there, and few were sold, so this is a really rare car.

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The 16 had no major competitors until the arrival of the Alec Issigonis designed Austin Maxi in 1969, but the BL car remained barely known outside the UK, whereas the Renault found favour across Europe. In 1970, racing driver Stirling Moss exclaimed: “There is no doubt that the Renault 16 is the most intelligently engineered automobile I have ever encountered and I think that each British motorcar manufacturer would do well to purchase one just to see how it is put together”. In 1971, the R16 underwent a mild revamp. Among the most obvious changes were new rectangular taillights. The Grand Luxe and Super were replaced by the L and TL specifications, both of which gained the same 1565cc engine as the TS (but with the cylinder head from the 1470cc). The TA was discontinued and an automatic transmission was made available as an option across the whole R16 range

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The top-line model was the TX, launched at the Paris Motor Show in October 1973, featuring an enlarged 1647cc version of the TS engine, coupled with a  5-speed manual transmission, still operated by a column change. The specification included power windows for the front doors and central door locking, one of the first family cars in Europe to feature such equipment.  The TX was distinguishable from other R16s by its four rectangular headlights.

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One more visual change was to come, in 1974 when the aluminium grille of all the other models was replaced by a black plastic one. By now, the car was over 10 years old and new rivals had appeared on the market, such as VW’s Passat (though it did not receive a hatchback until 1977) and the Chrysler Alpine. Renault came up with a cheaper version of the larger R30 model, the R20 in late 1975 as the planned replacement, but they kept the R16 in production right through until January 1980. It was not until 1989, when a hatchback version of the R21 joined the saloon model that Renault would have another hatch model of this size in their range. The R16 had been a great success, with 1,845,959 R16s produced during a production run of 15 years. The car sold well in most of Europe, winning praise for its spacious and comfortable interior. Retired Renault styling chief Patrick le Quément made no secret of his admiration for the R16 — and incorporated a subtle tribute to its “bird-beak” grille in the corporate look he devised for models such as the Laguna, Mégane and Scénic that the company launched in the 1990s. Sadly, the R16 suffered from rust problems like most other cars of the period, and so there are not many left.

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All R16 models were five door hatchbacks, but Renault did toy with other body styles. A slightly awkward three box saloon was one version that was developed, but never put into production, and they also produced this prototype Coupe model in 1963. Again, it was never put on sale, and this is the only example that exists.

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Parked up outside were another handful of R16 models, belonging to the Owners Club.  A couple of them were TX cars and there was also an earlier GL.

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In another part of the stand, Renault had a pair of concept cars, showing the progression of thinking around a mid-sized family car. More recent of the two was the R-Space which was designed by  Renault’s design chief Laurens Van den Acker for the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. A similar size to the production Renault Mégane. it has handclap “suicide” doors that reveal a large single opening without a B-pillar, giving easy access to the 5 seats. The boot opening is a conventional hatchback. The R-Space is powered by a 900cc turbo three-cylinder and mated to a twin-clutch gearbox. The engine develops 107 bhp and 118 lb/ft of torque and features direct-injection and stop start technology and produces just 95g/km of CO2 and averages 76mpg The quote top speed is 124 mph and 0-62 mph takes 11 seconds. The body boasts a low 0.28 drag coefficient. As a small family car, the interior incorporated innovative features such as a floating dashboard design and a rear cabin that has been designed for children with motorised cubes that can change into a number of shapes such as a booster seat and a table. There was much speculation after the car was shown, as to whether it was a thinly disguised  version of a replacement for the Modus, or whether it would hint at the next generation Scenic. The reality, as we know now, is that it was neither of those things, though elements of the car have been applied to production models seen in the last couple of years.

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The other Concept model shown alongside is 20 years older, dating back to 1991. This is the original Scenic, which was first seen at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1991. This design study, which gave a foretaste of what was to come 5 years later with the first generation Megane Scenic was described as a design study which was “an invitation to travel” – a study in space, comfort and safety. The Scenic was a technological showcase packed with plenty of technical features, it had for instance a navigation system called Carminet long before these were available even on luxury models. This concept car was a technological showcase, a design study aimed at producing a 21st-century family vehicle embodying Renault’s idea of the “car for life and living”. The “invitation to travel” theme was thoroughly developed in this cocoon-like vehicle, through form, colour and trim, but also through its functional innovations and safety features, which included not just a revolutionary exterior architecture which made it  the first compact MPV, but also the absence of centre pillar so that the two right-side doors formed a single opening, sliding towards each other to offer easy access to the cabin, delivering new levels of space, warmth and comfort. There was a single sliding door on the driver’s side, which gives Scenic previously unattained stiffness and strength, particularly in the event of lateral impact. There was a double floor housing chassis and two stowage holds plus luggage stowage area, accessible via opening both inside and outside the car. Optimised use was made of recyclable materials. Safety was a prime consideration, with seat-mounted safety belts, two child safety restraints, driver airbag and drowsiness detector for unbeatable safety performance, automatic door locking and micro-cameras for rear-view vision. Mechanically, there was ABS coupled to automatic transmission and automatic tyre pressure monitoring, power steering, four-wheel drive and automatic load levelling system at the rear for a safe, easy and comfortable drive every time and the vehicle was powered by a 150bhp 2.0-litre multivalve engine with the automatic transmission controlled by keyboard replacing conventional gear lever.

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Two much older Renaults also featured on the stand. Older of the pair was a 1902 Type G. The first Renault was made in 1899, and logically enough, the marque’s founder, Louis Renault called it the Type A. He kept improving his product at a rapid pace, and initially simply went through the alphabet to designate each new model. He got to this one, the Type G by 1902. It was powered by a 939cc single cylinder De Dion engine connected to a three speed gearbox. The brakes operated in two different modes, one working on the rear wheels while the other acted on the transmission shaft. This was a small car, measuring 3,11 m in length, 1,46 m in width and with an unladen weight of 450 kg. The top speed was somewhere between 40 and 50 kph.(24 to 31 mph).

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It was not long before the single alphabetic identifier was replaced by a pair of letters, so this model from 1925 is a Type NN, sometimes referred to as the 6CV. Powered by a 4-cylinder 951cc engine, the NN was first presented at the 1924 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris as the successor for Renault Type KJ and Type MT. It was in effect a lengthened version of the MT, with an extra 200 mm of wheelbase, and the addition of front-wheel brakes. The exterior design was very simple and family-oriented. Renault at this stage still positioned the radiator behind the engine, which meant that there was no grille at the front, but there were prominent “gills” on the sides of the bonnet for cooling purposes. This clearly worked as in 1927,  a Lieutenant Estienne drove a Type NN the 18,000km across the Sahara. The car reached 60 km/h (37 mph) and 150,000 cars were sold. The NN2 was introduced in 1929, a larger and heavier car. The car was replaced by the Renault Monasix, though this was a larger car and was powered by a (small) 6-cylinder engine. It was only in 1937 that the manufacturer launched a replacement model in the 6 CV class, the Juvaquatre.

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This R5 Turbo, dating from 1980 was presented on a separate stand. A similar car was offered for auction by Artcurial. It sold for €103,000.

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2015 marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of Alpine, and so there were some classic models from the Dieppe-based firm here on one corner of the massive Renault stand. Needless to say, there was an example of the first Alpine model here, the A106. The Alpine story goes back a few years further, of course and involves Jean Rédélé, the son of a Renault dealer in Dieppe, who in 1950, started activities in automobile competition where he would collect results and class victories in such sport events as the Monte Carlo rally, the Mille Miglia, the Tour de France and the challenging Liège Rome Liège race. These successes came from behind the wheel of a small Renault 4 CV sedan but for Jean Rédélé that was only the beginning. He dreamed of providing his country with a small sports car utilising mass production mechanical elements. Jean Rédélé first prepared a special Renault, the body of which was designed by Michelotti and produced by Alemano in Italy. It was, however, with the support of the French coachbuilders Chappe brothers based at Saint-Maur that Jean Rédélé was able to produce the Alpine A106. The Chappe brothers were indeed specialists in fibreglass composite production. The Alpine A106 was based on a Renault 4 CV platform. The designation of this new sports car makes reference to Jean Rédélé’s success in the Alpine Rally associated with the 106 production reference number of the Renault 4 CV. On June 25th 1955, the Société des Automobile Alpine (Automobile Alpine Company) was founded. The Alpine brand was officially launched on October 6th of the same year and the A106 was first exhibited at the Paris Motor Show. This was the first model of the Alpine story and 251 examples were made between 1955 and 1959. The model exhibited here is the Alpine A106 entered at the 1959 Mille Miglia. The engine is a in line four cylinder with 747 cc capacity producing 38 hp, driving the rear wheels through a five speed gearbox, with drum brakes all round. The claimed top speed was around 150 kph (93 mph). The car was small, measuring 3700 mm (145,6 in.) in length, 1450 mm (57 in.) wide and the weight was just 550 kg (1213 lb.).

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Replacing the A106, was the A108, which was launched at the Paris Motor Show in autumn 1957. Iinitially production volumes were low and the company’s principal offering continued to be the older 106 model until 1960. The Alpine 106 had taken its name from the first three digits of the four-digit homologation number of the old Renault 4CV on which the car was based. Applying the same logic the new car should have been called 109 because it used mechanical components from the newer Renault Dauphine which was registered under the French homologation number 1090, but instead the new car, which inherited many of its non-mechanical components from the 106, was given the name Alpine 108. In this form, where the 106 had used an engine from the Renault 4CV, the new model, as launched in 1957, used the Gordini version of the 845 cc engine fitted in the Dauphine. 1960 saw the introduction of an Alpine 108 cabriolet and a 2+2 coupé called the GT4. These versions were slightly longer than the original and featured a newly developed “beams and backbone” chassis with the beams at each end supporting cradles which carried respectively the engine at the rear and the steering mechanism at the front. This basic architecture would be used for Alpine sports cars until the Alpine A110 was phased out in 1977. These models, like the original coupé, were assembled by Chappe et Gessalin, but with a wheelbase lengthened by 7 cm. The mechanical elements were as before, with the Renault Dauphine engine offered in 845 or 904 cc form. By the time production of the 108 came to an end in 1965, fewer than 100 of these lengthened versions had been produced. The 108 played an important part in the transformation of Alpine into a mainstream (though always low volume) car producer. In 1960 an upgraded version of the model known as the Berlinette Tour de France replaced the original “coach” version of the car. The obvious visual difference was at the front, where the headlights were now integrated into the front wing behind a windcheating perspex cover. This was the model offered in the show rooms from autumn 1960 and which continued in production until 1965, preparing the way for the commercially more successful A110. The A108 was also produced in Brazil, thanks to an agreement with Willys-Overland. Renamed as the Willys Interlagos, the model was built in three versions: berlinetta, coupé, and convertible. The car also had a successful racing career. From 1962 to 1966, a total of 822 Interlagos were made in Santo Amaro, São Paulo. It was an Interlagos that was shown on the stand here.

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Bringing things right up to date was the very latest concept, the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo 2015 which was produced as part of Alpine’s 60th anniversary, as a taster for the brand’s proposed relaunch in 2016 and as a part of the legendary video game Gran Turismo 6. It was first seen a couple of weeks ago at the 2015 Festival Automobile International in Paris. It will be made available as part of a free update of Gran Turismo® 6 for PlayStation® 3 in March 2015. To discover the car, players will select ‘Vision GT’ on the ‘My Home’ page, and after choosing the body colour, they will be able to admire their acquisition in full-screen mode, along with a detailed description. It will also be possible to view videos and sketches starring the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo before you take part in your first race  Believe it or not, the gestation time for producing a car for Gran Turismo is as long as producing a real machine. Its origins go back to July 2013, when around 15 staff from Polyphony Digital inc. visited Alpine’s studio where they were greeted by a similar number of people who shared the same passion for the automobile. The idea of a lightweight, agile, ‘barquette-type‘ car, in keeping with the brand’s racing program with the A450, took form. An in-house competition involving around 15 designs was won by the project submitted by Victor Sfiazof: His design was a genuine sportscar, combining a passion for cars with enjoyment behind the wheel. There were numerous references to the past, present and future, with the idea of a ‘barquette‘ stemming from the Alpine A450’s involvement in the Le Mans 24 Hours. That said, the front end took its inspiration from the A110, while the vertical fins at the rear recalled the A210 and A220 while making a real contribution to the car’s styling. There were also cues from the world of aviation, too. The airbrakes added a nice high tech touch to the rear end. Little by little, the car appeared in drawing form before a digital version was produced. At the same time, the chassis development engineers worked on the car’s technical characteristics. After benchmarking and comparing dozens of other cars featured in Gran Turismo, they found a set-up that put the accent on driving enjoyment, in keeping with the Alpine spirit. Meanwhile, Polyphony Digital fed the data into their own software and, a little more than a year after the project’s launch, the final specification of The Alpine Vision Gran Turismo, was set in concrete. As the final icing on the cake, a new challenge was set: that of producing an actual tangible version of this incredible creation.

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There were a number of Renault-Alpine models offered on the dealer stands, available to purchase, including another example of the A106

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Also on show was an A110 1600S Safari.

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Surprisingly, this appears to be the only Rolls-Royce that I spotted, certainly with the camera. It is a Silver Ghost Tourer by Million Guiet, dating from 1924. Million-Guiet was a  French coachbuilder, and they showed the car at the 1924 Paris Motor Show. It was then sold to Ettore Bugatti, some three years before he conceived his prestigious luxury car, the Bugatti Royale. What is known is that Ettore Bugatti used the car as family car for nearly forty years. In 1963, the car was sold to French racing driver Maurice Trintignant. In 2003, the Rolls Royce was purchased by racing driver Jean Alesi who kept it for two years. It is for sale again now, and was presented by Fiskens at this event.

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As seems always to be the case at this event, there were very few Simca vehicles on show. I did come across this fabulous display of models, though, which contained examples of every Simca type made between the marque’s inception in the 1930s and the last Talbot-badged cars of the 1980s, all in 1:43 scale. If you counted them all, you would have discovered that there were 80 models included, representing the 80 years since the founding of Simca.

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There were a couple of full-sized Simca cars though. Neither of them likely to be particularly familiar. Something of an unlikely le Mans competitor was this little car, a full-blown “racing machine” designed by Amédée Gordini, the “Sorcerer”. This two-seater from 1937 was based on the Simca 5, effectively a Fiat 500 Topolino built under licence in France by Simca, so a small popular automobile with a four-cylinder, 570 cc engine. Trying to drag a sporting performance out of this anaemic little engine was a major challenge, but Gordini managed to get it up to 125 kph (75 mph), by lightening the weight of the vehicle and adding a special cylinder head. The success of this little vehicle was amazing. It entered eight endurance races in all, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937, 1938 and 1939, where it was driven by Albert and Adrien Alin, and won five victories in its category! Not content with winning races, Gordini also broke speed records. In 1937, the little car broke 22 world records, including the 48-hr record, at an average of 103 kph (64 mph) – all with an engine of only 23 horsepower!

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In the 1930s, Simca was still making Fiat based cars under licence. This 1950 Simca Huit (Eight), an 8CV car,  was based on the Fiat 508C-1100 and was launched in 1937. It had the same 1100cc engine as had been in the earlier Simca 6, but was a more modern car with a 4 speed gearbox, instead of the more common 3 ratios, independent front suspension and four doors without a central pillar. Production of the 6CV and 11CV stopped in 1937, leaving the 5 and the 8 in production until the outbreak of World War II, and production resumed after the war. The firm nevertheless remained closely connected with Fiat, and it was not until 1938 that the shortened name “Simca” replaced “Simca-Fiat”, by which time the badge had been changed to resemble a swallow, and the slogan “appetite of a bird”, which was meant to indicate the range’s fuel economy potential had been adopted. This car was shown on the massive Peugeot stand, as following a time when Simca was owned by Chrysler, Peugeot bought the company in 1978, rebrandiing the then product range as Talbot a few months later.

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With a large stand opposite Mercedes, Czech marque Skoda was another manufacturer supporting the event, and they had quite a contrast between their very first car and a recent Concept model. After making Slavia bicycles, Laurin & Klement created the Voiturette A—the first ever Czech car—in 1905. The Voiturette has a two-cylinder SV engine producing 7bhp.

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The recent concept car was Vision C, the model that was shown at Geneva 2014, but whisked away off the stand before the public arrived. When first shown, the Vision C concept was said to be paving the way for the introduction of a new liftback, conceived to fill the gap between the Octavia and Superb in Skoda’s existing range. Sister car to a proposed second four-door coupé-style offering from parent company Volkswagen, the new Skoda is based on the same hot-formed, high-strength steel MQB (Modularen Querbau or modular transverse architecture) platform as the Octavia, alongside which it is planned to be built. While the basic silhouette of the concept and five-door liftback layout is expected to be brought over into production with little or no change, the detailing and rear end will be further refined.. Skoda said that many of the Vision C’s design cues, including its bold chromed grille, taut surfacing treatment, precisely structured flanks and triangular theme to its lamps would be reflected on other future Skoda models. Measuring around 4700mm in length and 1820mm in width, the Vision C would offer what Skoda described as “more than sufficient space for four adults and their luggage”. Clearly  intended to provide Skoda with a timely image boost following the recent expansion of its line-up with more run-of-the-mill models, the VisionC is powered by the same engine used in the recently introduced Volkswagen Golf TGI and Audi A3 G-Tron. The 108bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder direct injection engine can run on either petrol or natural gas. Computer simulations suggest it would provide combined average consumption equivalent to 72mpg in natural gas mode, for average CO2 emissions of just 91g/km. Twelve months on, we know now that this design did presage quite a lot of what has been incorporated into the production third generation Superb hatch, announced in February 2015, though some of the other statements made back in February 2014 have not quite come to fruition.

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Škoda introduced a new line of cars in 1930s which significantly differed from its previous products. A new design of chassis with backbone tube and all-around independent suspension was developed under the leadership of chief engineer Vladimír Matouš and derived from the one introduced by Hans Ledwinka in Tatra. First used on model Škoda 420 Standard in 1933, it aimed at solving insufficient torsional stiffness of the ladder frame. The new design of chassis became the basis for models Popular (845-1,089 cc), Rapid (1165-1766 cc), Favorit (1802-2091 cc) and Škoda Superb (2,5-4 L). While in 1933 Škoda had 14% share of the Czechoslovak car market and third position behind Praga and Tatra, the new line made it a market leader by 1936, with 39% share in 1938. Production of the Popular continued until 1946, and around 20,000 units were sold. Most of them were ordinary small family saloons, though other body styles were offered. The car was relatively light,. at 750 kg, which meant that its 36 hp engine gave it decent performance. To prove the merits of the car, Skoda decided to enter a Popular in the famous Monte Carlo Rally in 1936. To allow the car – a Cabrio –  to compete, it had to be upgraded somewhat from the standard spec, receiving a heater, a larger fuel tank, hydraulic brakes and a larger engine of 1368cc. As was tradition for this race, competitors started from various different parts of Europe, so the Czech team driving this car commenced their Monte Carlo on Athens. The car finished second in its class and twentieth overall. Buoyed by this success, the team entered again, in 1937, this time with a Coupe, like the one seen here. The car finished fourth in class. To celebrate, Skoda then built a small number of road-going Monte Carlo models, 72 in total, of which 25 were Coupe models.

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Dating from 1953, this 966 SuperSport was a Czech design built with motorsport in mind. The third of three which were built, two of them survive. It was successful in various touring rallies all over Czechoslovakia, with a Mr Bobek driving it, but it proved too complicated to build press tools for mass production, so all three cars were handbuilt. Weighing just 650 kg, it was very fast despite having just 1200cc to power it.

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Nearly as boldly coloured as the Vision C was this S110R Coupe,  a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive car that was produced between 1970 and 1980, during which time 56,902 examples were made. The 110R Coupé succeeded the sporty Škoda 1000 MBX/1100 MBX. It was powered by an uprated 52 bhp version of Škoda’s 720-type OHV four-cylinder 1107cc engine, which was shared with the Škoda 110LS saloon, following its introduction in 1971. With a four-speed manual gearbox, the 110R could reach a top speed of 145kmh and accelerate to 100kmh in 18.5 seconds. Its design closely mirrored that of the related 100 and 110 saloons, but with only two doors and a distinctive fastback rear. During most of its production period, the 110R featured four headlights, but in the earliest years it had only two. Production ended in 1980 to make way for its successor, the Škoda Garde (the Coupe-based version of the Škoda 105/120 series), which was introduced in November 1981 The car was popular in motorsport, where the basic configuration was punched out to make the rally-specific homologation 130 RS, and one-off 1.8-liter OHC 180RS and 2.0-liter OHC 200RS specials. The ultimate evolution came in 1975, Bořivoj Kořínek’s fuel-injected, 250hp 2000 MI “Grenade.”

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As well as the amazing collection of Bugatti models, Swiss dealer Swiss dealer Lukas Hüni AG. also had a trio of Talbot Lago cars on their stand.

Anthony Lago, when established as the new director of the Talbot SA company at Suresnes (near Paris) in 1933, brought new vitality into the already well established car company. His idea was to build cars that could win races. He was convinced that racing was not only the best test-bed, but also the greatest promotional platform. His development concept was to use as many production car components as possible, hence reaching a high degree of reliability and endurance. The results were impressive, since no fewer than 21 first, 21 second and 18 third places were achieved in international Grand Prix and Sports Cars races between 1936 and 1951. This included outright wins at Le Mans in 1950 and a 5th place in the Carrera Panamericana race in the same year with Louis Rosier in the 4,5 litre Talbot Lago. In 1948, Talbot Lago decided to build a road version of the T26 4,5 litre Grand Sport, suitable for road use, for wealthy clients such as King Michael of Rumania, King Ibn Saud and the Bey of Tunis. Very much based on the T26C Single Seater, these cars featured the competition specification, the Wilson pre-selector gearbox and the 2,65 m wheelbase short chassis. A total of 29 cars were made as rolling chassis, destined to be bodied by the most prestigious coachbuilders such as Figoni Falaschi, Chapron, Saoutchik etc. Five of the 29 customers decided to take a different route. They felt that these T26 Grand Sport with their competition specification would guarantee excellent results if entered in International Rallies.  This particular car, chassis Number 110152 is one of those five cars. It was delivered in October 1950 as a rolling chassis to Michel Collange and Robert Huguet (friends of racing driver Louis Rosier) and entered in rallies in the original Perret coupe body form, regrettably resulting in the car catching fire in the 1951 “Rally de la Gentiane”. Louis Rosier helped with the introduction to famous Italian coachbuilder Motto of Turin who designed and installed the car’s present unique aluminium Barchetta body in 1952. Throughout the car’s life, 110152 was always in excellent hands, amongst them with Guy Durif (friend of Maurice Trintigant), Jean Estager (7th at the 1950 Le Mans, winner of the 1957 Akropolis Rally with a Ferrari 250 GTO), Antoine Raffaelli, Pierre Bonnal (Monoplace Décallée) and Nicolas Springer. Since 1998, 110152 has formed part of a private Swiss collection.

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There was another T26 GS here. Talbot-Lago had developed the car with open wheel and cycle fenders. Louis Rosier and his son won the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours with such a car. The car exhibited here was driven in 1951 by Froilan Gonzalez at Le Mans. At the time it was still an open wheel racing car, but for 1952, the Le Mans rules changed and all participants had to have full width bodies. Accordingly, Talbot Lago prepared this ‘barchetta’ style body for the Talbot T26 GS and the car was driven by Pierre Levegh at the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours, a race he nearly won, as he had a four lap lead after 23 hours,  just to end with a broken crankshaft with less than an hour to go. Even so, with this impressive drive Levegh secured himself a seat in the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR that ended in tragedy. This car, Chassis N° 110056,, is currently part of a private collection. .


Tatra cars have become very collectible, and it is not hard to see why, as these Czech creations were very innovative when new and even now have many advanced features which surprise those who are still somewhat scornful of the automotive products of the Czech Republic. The Tatra Company began manufacturing cars in 1897 in Kopřivnice, Moravia, today’s Czech Republic, making it the third oldest still existing automobile manufacturer in the world. Under the direction of Hans Ledwinka, the company employed many genius minds of automotive history, including Erich Übelacker and consultant Paul Jaray, who all designed the Tatra 77.  Paul Jaray first worked at Luftschiffbau Zeppelin (LZ) where he gained experience with aerodynamic design of airships. He used his access to LZ’s wind tunnels and subsequently established the streamlining principles for car design. In 1927 he founded a company specialising in developing streamlined car bodies and selling issuing licenses to major vehicle manufacturers. Tatra was the only manufacturer to incorporate Jaray streamline principles into their series car production, starting with the Tatra 77. Before designing the large luxurious T77, Jaray designed an aerodynamic body for the Tatra 57, a mid-range model. This prototype was not further developed and failed to reach production. Instead, Jaray constructed two prototypes for a concept designated as the Tatra V570, which more closely conformed to his aerodynamic streamlining principles, featuring a beetle-shaped body. However, at the time Tatra already had a cheap car selling well in its product range, which was moreover popular due to its continuation of simple and ultra-reliable tradition started by the Tatra 11 model. Although the management saw the advantages of Jaray’s concept, they believed that the new model would be only an additional model with limited production, which meant that it should be aimed at the top end of the market. Ledwinka’s team subsequently stopped work on V570 and concentrated on designing large luxurious cars. Tatra aimed at making state-of-the-art cars that would be fast, stable, nearly silent, economical and built to the most rigorous engineering standards, as well as reflecting modern aerodynamic research.  Launched in 1934, the Tatra 77 is a coach-built automobile constructed on a central tube-steel chassis and is powered by a 75 horsepower rear-mounted 3.4-litre air-cooled V8 engine. It possessed advanced engineering applications such as overhead valves, hemispherical combustion chambers, dry sump, fully independent suspension, rear swing axles and extensive use of lightweight magnesium-alloy for the engine, transmission, suspension and body. The average drag coefficient of a 1:5 model of Tatra 77 was recorded as 0.2455. The later model T77a has a top speed of over 150 km/h (93 mph) due to its advanced aerodynamics design which delivered an exceptionally low drag coefficient of 0.212, Hans Ledwinka was the chief-designer responsible for the development of the new car, with Erich Übelacker was responsible for the body. The development was very secretive until the last moments of the official presentation on March 5, 1934 at Tatra’s Prague offices. The car was demonstrated on the road from Prague to Karlovy Vary, where it easily reached 145 km/h (90 mph) and amazed newspapermen with great handling and comfortable ride at speeds of about 100 kim/h (62 mph). That same year the T77 was presented at the Paris Motor Show, where it became the centre of attention, not only due to its looks but also for its performance. There were even demonstration rides after the ability of the car to reach 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph) with a mere 45 kilowatts (60 hp) of engine power to reach was doubted, as normally at the time for a car to reach such a speed required about twice as much horsepower. In 1935 the T77 was updated and improved, which resulted in the T77a. The capacity of the V8 was increased to 3.4 litres, which was achieved by enlarging the bore from 75 to 80 mm. The new motor increased output to 75 hp and maximum speed to 150 km/h (93 mph). The front now had three headlamps of which the central unit was linked to the steering on some models, making it possible to turn the lamp while steering. Some T77s and T77as were also equipped with canvas Webasto roofs. The Tatra 77 was the particular favourite of Tatra design engineer Erich Übelacker, who owned and used a T77 himself from 1934. Other famous owners of T77s were Milos Havel, the proprietor of the film studios in Prague who bought a T77 in 1935, Austrian car designer Edmund Rumpler, who designed the aerodynamic Rumpler Tropfenwagen in 1921, Edvard Beneš, the 1930s minister of Foreign Affairs and later president of Czechoslovakia, who both owned a T77a. Ledwinka was not entirely satisfied with the T77’s handling, caused by its rather heavy rear. He started work on a successor to the T77, which was to be less heavy and with an improved weight distribution. Tatra achieved just that with the now famous Tatra 87 that was introduced in 1936. Seen here was a 1935 T77a model.

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This is the only working example left of the Tiger II Tank, and it was borrowed from the Musée des Blindés, which means that this 70 tonne machine had to be transported from Saumur in the Loire Valley. Apparently, it was started up in the Hall, though not when I was there, and the noise from its 23 litre V12 Maybach engine was described as “chilling”. That I can well imagine. The Tiger II was the successor to the Tiger I, and  was issued to heavy tank battalions of the Army (Schwere Heerespanzerabteilung – abbreviated s.H.Pz.Abt) and the Waffen-SS (s.SS.Pz.Abt). It was first used in combat with s.H.Pz.Abt. 503 during the Normandy campaign on 11 July 1944; on the Eastern Front, the first unit to be outfitted with Tiger IIs was the s.H.Pz.Abt. 501, which by 1 September 1944 listed 25 Tiger IIs operational. Development of a heavy tank design had been initiated in 1937; the initial design contract was awarded to Henschel. Another design contract followed in 1939, and was given to Porsche. Both prototype series used the same turret design from Krupp; the main differences were in the hull, transmission, suspension and automotive features. The Henschel version used a conventional hull design with sloped armour resembling the layout of the Panther tank. It had a rear mounted engine and used nine steel-tyred, eighty centimetre diameter overlapping road wheels per side with internal springing, mounted on transverse torsion bars, in a similar manner to the original Henschel-designed Tiger I. To simplify maintenance, however, as when the same steel-tyred road wheels were used on later Tiger I hulls, the wheels were only overlapping without being interleaved — the full Schachtellaufwerk rubber-rimmed roadwheel system that had been in use on nearly all German half-tracks used the interleaved design, later inherited by the early production versions of the Tiger I and Panther. The Porsche hull designs included a rear-mounted turret and a mid-mounted engine. The suspension was the same as on the Elefant tank destroyer. This had six road wheels per side mounted in paired bogies sprung with short longitudinal torsion bars that were integral to the wheel pair; this saved internal space and facilitated repairs. One Porsche version had a petrol-electric drive (fundamentally identical to a Diesel-electric transmission, only using a petrol engine as the prime mover), similar to a petrol-electric hybrid but without a storage battery; two separate drive trains in parallel, one per side of the tank, each consisting of a hybrid drive train; petrol engine – electric generator – electric motor – drive sprocket. This method of propulsion had been attempted before on the Tiger (P) (later Elefant prototypes) and in some US designs, but had never been put into production. The Porsche suspension were later used on a few of the later Jagdtiger tank destroyers. Another proposal was to use hydraulic drives. Dr. Porsche’s unorthodox designs gathered little favour. Henschel won the design contract, and all Tiger IIs were produced by the firm. Two turret designs were used in production vehicles. The initial design is often misleadingly called the “Porsche” turret due to the belief that it was designed by Porsche for their prototype; in fact it was the initial Krupp design for both prototypes. This turret had a rounded front and steeply sloped sides, with a difficult-to-manufacture curved bulge on the turret’s left side to accommodate the commander’s cupola. Fifty early turrets were mounted to Henschel’s hull and used in action. The more common “production” turret, sometimes called the “Henschel” turret, was simplified with a significantly thicker flat face, no shot trap (created by the curved face of the initial-type turret), and less-steeply sloped sides, which prevented the need for a bulge for the commander’s cupola. The turrets were designed to mount the 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 gun. Combined with the Turmzielfernrohr 9d (German “turret telescopic sight”) monocular sight by Leitz, which all but a few early Tiger IIs used, it was a very accurate and deadly weapon. During practice, the estimated probability of a first round hit on a 2 m (6 ft 7 in) high, 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide target only dropped below 100 percent at ranges beyond 1,000 m (0.62 mi), to 95–97 percent at 1,500 metres (0.93 mi) and 85–87 percent at 2,000 m (1.2 mi), depending on ammunition type. Recorded combat performance was lower, but still over 80 percent at 1,000 m, in the 60s at 1,500 m and the 40s at 2,000 m. Penetration of armored plate inclined at 30 degrees was 202 and 132 mm (8.0 and 5.2 in) at 100 m (110 yd) and 2,000 m (1.2 mi) respectively for the Panzergranate 39/43 projectile (PzGr—armor-piercing shell), and 238 and 153 mm (9.4 and 6.0 in) for the PzGr. 40/43 projectile between the same ranges. The Sprenggranate 43 (SpGr) high-explosive round was available for soft targets, or the Hohlgranate or Hohlgeschoss 39 (HlGr—HEAT or High-explosive anti-tank warhead) round, which had 90 mm (3.5 in) penetration at any range, could be used as a dual-purpose munition against soft or armoured targets. Powered turret traverse was provided by the variable speed Boehringer-Sturm L4S hydraulic motor, which was driven from the main engine by a secondary drive shaft. A high and a low speed setting was available to the gunner via a lever on his right. The turret could be rotated 360 degrees in 60 seconds in low gear independent of engine rpm, in 19 seconds in high gear at idle engine speed, and within 10 seconds at the maximum allowable engine speed. The direction and speed of traverse were controlled by the gunner through pedals, or a control lever near his left arm. The system was smooth and accurate enough to be used for final gun laying without the gunner needing to use his traverse hand wheel for fine adjustments — which was needed by most other tanks of the period. If power was lost, the turret could be slowly traversed by hand, assisted by the loader who had an additional wheel. Like all German tanks, it had a petrol engine; in this case the same 690 hp V-12 Maybach HL 230 P30 which powered the much lighter Panther and Tiger I tanks. The Tiger II was under-powered, like many other heavy tanks of World War II, and consumed a lot of fuel, which was in short supply for the Germans, so even with a tank that held 1036 litres, it had a range of barely 150 km. The transmission was the Maybach OLVAR EG 40 12 16 Model B, giving eight forward gears and four reverse, which drove the steering gear. This was the Henschel L 801, a double radius design which proved susceptible to failure. Transverse torsion bar suspension supported the hull on nine axles per side. Overlapped 800 mm (31 in) diameter road wheels with rubber cushions and steel tyres rode inside the tracks. Like the Tiger I, each tank was issued with two sets of tracks: a normal “battle track” and a narrower “transport” version used during rail movement. The transport tracks reduced the overall width of the load and could be used to drive the tank short distances on firm ground. The crew were expected to change to normal battle tracks as soon as the tank was unloaded. Ground pressure was 0.76 kg/cm2 (10.8 psi). The Tiger II was developed late in the war and built in relatively small numbers. Orders were placed for 1,500 Tiger IIs — slightly more than the 1,347 Tiger I tanks produced — but Tiger II production was severely disrupted by Allied bombing.  Among others, five raids between 22 September and 7 October 1944 destroyed 95 percent of the floor area of the Henschel plant. It is estimated that this caused the loss in production of some 657 Tiger IIs. Only 492 units were produced: one in 1943, 379 in 1944, and 112 in 1945. Full production ran from mid-1944 to the end of the war. It is believed that this particular example was used in the battle of Sailly on 28th August 1944, and it was abandoned by the fleeing Germans, before they had time to destroy it. It was recovered some years later after the end of the war and taken to the Tank Museum in Saumur. It is the sole working survivor.

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This TR4, along with a number of other TR models which defied photography because of the way they were crammed into a small space, was with the MGs depicted earlier in this report.

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There were a couple of  examples of the Venturi, both racing versions. Venturi Automobiles was a French-founded Monegasque-based automotive manufacturer, founded in 1984 by two engineers from Heuliez,  Claude Poiraud and Gérard Godfroy as MVS (Manufacture de Voitures de Sport). The company’s sole purpose was to compete in the “Grand Tourisme” market. However, this plan was immediately faced with many challenges, among them was Venturi’s almost unknown existence outside of France, another was Venturi’s under-capitalised and under-staffed state. The first Venturi came out in 1984, and it was presented as the only “Grand Tourisme” French car capable of competing with the English Aston Martin, the Italian Ferrari, and the German Porsche. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, they built around 750 examples of these very elegant mid-engined coupés and roadsters with turbocharged PRV engines and Renault gearboxes. Engine power ranged from 213 to 264 PS for the Venturi Atlantique series. A limited-edition 400 GTR was built for racing homologation requirements and later used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Venturi was also briefly involved with the Larrousse Formula One team. The team’s 1992 car, which bore the Venturi name, was designed and built by Venturi Larousse UK, a British company formerly known as Fomet 1, which had previously designed the 1991 Fondmetal Formula One cars. High-level competition has also brought fame to the brand. Stéphane Ratel, who would later found the FIA GT Championship, was at the origin of the Venturi Gentlemen Drivers Trophy, which gathered an impressive array of 75 drivers. Venturi has also won fame through its brilliant performances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, particularly in 1993 with Christophe Dechavanne and Jacques Laffite on Venturi Jaccadi team, and in 1995 with Paul Belmondo racing on the 600 SLM. However, it is in the BPR Global GT Series races that Venturi established its pedigree defeating Porsche and Ferrari on several occasions. In 1994 in Dijon-Prenois, with Ferté and Neugarten on the 600 LM Jaccadi, at the 1000 km of Paris with Henri Pescarolo and Jean-Claude Basso on the 600 LM, and finally at the 4 Hours Spa race, once again with Michel Ferté and Michel Neugarten. The 400 GT remains one of the best performing French cars ever produced, and it is in fact the very first car in the world to have standard carbon brakes. True to that claim, the Atlantique 400 GT with a 408 hp V6 3.0 24v DOHC twin-turbo delivered excellent performance to put it on par with Ferraris of the early 90s. The 400 GT could hit 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and a 291 km/h (181 mph) top speed, while the 300GT with a 314 PS V6 did 4.9 seconds to 100 km/h and went all the way to 171 mph (275 km/h). But the company always struggled for capital, and in 200, was declared bankrupt. That was not quite the end of the story, as in 2001, Monegasque Gildo Pallanca Pastor purchased Venturi, and decided to focus on electric-powered engines. This change of direction led to the limited-production Fétish. In December 2009, Venturi announced its acquisition of French motorcycle manufacturer Voxan. The acquisition would effectively allow Venturi to enter the motorcycle market. In August 2011, Venturi announced the creation of Venturi North America, based in Columbus, Ohio. Venturi North America was primarily created as a research and development centre, and as such, maintains a close working relationship with the Centre for Automotive Research. The blue car seen here is an LM600 and the yellow one a 400 Trophy.

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Star of the Volvo Club de France was one of the 850R models from the mid 1990s. Volvo transformed their image completely with these fast estate cars, showing that with a potent turbo engine under the bonnet, they were blisteringly fast on the race track, doing well in the British Touring Car Championship and elsewhere. The R was an even faster model than the first of the T5 machines.

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Even without the chance to see the incredible Baillon Collection, this would have been a great event,. But add that special display to the mix, and this is a Rétromobile that will live with me for the rest of my life. I don’t know what the organisers will manage to come up with for 2016 to try to beat it, but you can be sure that their thinking caps will be put on and stay on for the coming months. The 2016 dates are 3 – 7th February and I plan to be there to see what they came up with.

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