alfa romeo


Retromobile Paris is arguably the most prestigious classic car show in Europe and is a must see for classic car enthusiasts. With cheap air fares and the show’s close proximity to Orly Airport, a day trip for old car loving Brits is relatively easy.

The show is held at the vast Paris Expo exhibition centre near Porte De Versailles on the Paris inner ring road. Whilst certainly a big show, as it is all in one hall, it felt no bigger than the NEC Classic Car Show, and felt smaller than the big German shows at Stuttgart and Essen. I arrived an hour after the show opened at 11 and was done by 5pm. You would certainly struggle to see either of the two German shows in the same time.

This year Retromobile celebrated its 40th year with an excellent mix of automobilia and autojumble sellers, high-end car dealers, club exhibitors, museums and manufacturers. In common with the German shows, local manufacturers used the event to showcase their heritage collections as well as some of their new cars. PSA put on an excellent show of Peugots and Citroens, and foreign manufacturers represented included Daimler-Benz, Skoda and Porsche. Again, like the German shows the exhibiting car dealers were very high end indeed, with several displaying inventories worth in excess of £10 million. Not something you see at the NEC classic car show!

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Traders, dealers and cars as far as the eye can see

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Lovely pair of Panhard racers. The nearest is a 1954 X86 “Dolomites” which took part in the Tour De france and various rallies that year.

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Not something you see at most classic car shows! The French Tank Museum displayed this fully operational German WW2 King Tiger tank.

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Another view of the mighty leviathan. Designed in large part by Ferdinand Porsche, its a part of Porsche’s back catalogue that does not get a mention at their impressive museum in Stuttgart (see previous post on the Porsche Museum, Stuttgart)

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The Matra Club de France displayed a good selection of pristine cars, including this mint 530. Beyond is a Bagheera – novel at the time for its three abreast seating – long before McLaren copied the idea in their F1.

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Renault Heritage displayed a selection of Renault 16’s to celebrate the revolutionary model’s 50th anniversary. This is an as new TX. Journalists were able to book passenger rides in a fleet of R16’s around the local area.

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Not to be outdone by the Regie, PSA Heritage and affiliated clubs brought a large number of Citroen and Peugeot classics to the show. There was a particularly fine display of Citroen DS models to celebrate that model’s 50th anniversary. This is a rare and expensive convertible.

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Also celebrating its anniversary was the Alpine mark. Renault displayed a number of these fine sports cars including this early Brazilian racer.

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The Schlumpf Collection (or as its now known, La Cite de l’Automobile a Mulhouse) sent their “Three Kings” – three stunning Bugatti Royales. This is the Coupe Napoleon. The Schlumpf collection houses hundreds of gorgeous classics and scores of Bugattis. Its well worth a visit.

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Peugeot displayed a number of cars from their heritage collection at Sochaux, including this 401 drop head. The Musee de l’Aventure Peugeot is another great French auto museum. A visit can be combined with a tour of the factory where you can watch brand new 208’s rolling off the production line.

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This beautiful 1930s Peugeot 402 drop head shows what attractive and revolutionary cars Peugeot made before the war.

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The neat lines of this 1976 Citroen GS show the clear family resemblance to the more up market DS. I had my first driving lessons in my Dad’s GS which was precisely this shade of blue. A very comfortable but complex car!

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Typical selection of cars with one of the high end dealers. Targa Florio Ferrari, Porsche 908, Maserati 300..

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Beautiful Delahaye

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This smart gullwing Panhard sports racer was for sale. It would make a very different entry for the Le Mans Classic.

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Skoda also took the opportunity to showcase their heritage. This is a Skoda racer from the 1950s.

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This is a 1936 Skoda Popular Sport Monte Carlo coupe. No prizes for guessing how it got its name.

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Daimler Benz showed their new cars next to the old. This is the new AMG GT – like a scaled down non gullwing SLS. Its good looking but as cramped as an F Type. Porsche won’t be worrying too much about the competition.

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1955 Lancia Florida Pinin Farina Berlina. A beautiful car but no doubt with the structural rigidity of blancmange.

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If you were a well heeled French patriot there was a good supply of fabulous 50’s sports racers for sale including this Gordini.

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1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Bertone. You would have thought Alfa would have had other priorities in 1942..

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No French car show would be complete without at least one Facel Vega, the 1960’s car of the stars.

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Not bad for a used car lot. Bugattis as far as the eye can see.

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Well patinated Bugatti Type 35B. The vintage sports car.. If only I had a spare few million..

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This German dealer was selling no less than four Gullwing Mercs.

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Also for sale for a cool £1.5m, a Ferrari 288 GTO

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A British dealer was selling this interesting 1898 Panhard et Lavassor 8HP. Stated to be the oldest race car in existence, it took part in the 1898 Paris – Amsterdam – Paris race, one of the great city to city Gordon Bennett races that predated circuit racing.

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A strong collection of pre war coach built cars included this ungainly 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato Aprile.

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What were Daimler Benz thinking? The Maybach was a truly ugly car bought by people with limited taste. This Maybach 62 Landaulet is vulgarity personified.

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The interior looks like a Dubai hotel suite. The bottle of Nevada Cava says it all..

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Nicely patinated (i.e. decrepit) 1935 Tatra 77A. Yours for a cool £375k!

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Pegaso of Spain made some wonderful cars in the 1950s and a fine selection were on show at Retromobile. This Z102 Coupe was bodied by Saoutchik.

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This Pegaso Z102 was bodied by Touring Superleggera of Milan.

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Pegaso Z102 Drop Head

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Back on the Renault stand, Alpine showed this concept car that has been digitised for use in the latest version of the Grand Tourismo computer game. The reception has been so positive it is rumoured that it is possible the car may enter production.

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Imaginative aero solution. No need for wings here!

Brooklands, the birthplace of British motor racing, is home to a fascinating museum and the very impressive Mercedes-Benz World. Every October the Museum with Autoitalia Magazine organise a motorsport day at the Museum and on the test track at Mercedes-Benz World. All sorts of competition cars are invited to the event and this year I took along my MG SV.

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Queuing up for some hot laps on the MBW test track. The broken concrete circuit is part of the original Campbell road circuit. Note the variety of other competition cars. Not sure the standard F Type and Testerosa count!

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In the paddock the variety continues. Note the top fuel dragster. When the engine is running the pit crew need to wear gas masks.

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This fearsome Fiat 500 Abarth looks like it is on steroids. It has a 1.8L 220 bhp engine!

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A very smart MG M Type Midget Le Mans. A similar car won the 500 Mile Race at Brooklands driven by Lord March’s grandfather, Freddy.

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Alfa Romeos 8C and 4C

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TT Legend Joey Dunlop’s Ford Transit complete with smart looking BSA

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Two more Fiat 500 Abarths, one luke warm and the other hot!

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MG SV in front of the iconic Brooklands Club House

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JPS Team Lotus transporter. The stock car isn’t quite a Lotus 72.

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A team Lotus JPS Motorhome, former home to Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson.

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A miraculous survivor of a time when Fiats rusted to oblivion in 5 years! This 128 is immaculate. My Grandad had a green one which I remember with fondness. In production from 1969 to 1985 it was European Car of the Year in 1970 and its front engine front wheel drive design became the standard for most other manufacturers.

After a hiatus of 50 years, April saw the return of the Goodwood members’ meeting. Intended originally for GRRC members only, disappointing ticket sales saw invitations extended to other motoring clubs and subscribers to various motoring magazines. The comparatively light crowds may have been disappointing for the Earl of March but they were fantastic for those who attended. Not having to force your way past crowds of bored wives and girlfriends was a welcome contrast to the Revival Meeting as was the lack of corporate sponsors.

The event was blessed with remarkable weather – warm bright sunshine in what was otherwise a wet and miserable spring. The sun, coupled with the lack of crowds created a relaxed atmosphere most unlike other Goodwood events. But the best thing about the event was seeing cars that most of us had never seen before. Wonderful though the Festival of Speed and Revival are, many of the top cars return year after year. Having gone to both events for nearly 20 years I am afraid I have become a little blasé about even the most expensive exotica. Embarrassingly, at the last Revival, I found myself spending more time looking at the cars in the car park than in the paddock.

It’s this overfamiliarity with the usual Goodwood fare which made the cars at the Members meeting so interesting. For the first time we were shown cars that raced after the date the circuit closed in 1966. Le Mans prototypes and Turbo Era F1 cars did demonstration laps whilst colourful 70s touring cars battled it out in full on races. It was fascinating stuff and I can only hope that the event is repeated in a similar format next year.

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In a previous post I mentioned my love of the Matra 670 that Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo raced to victory at Le Mans in 1972. Imagine my delight when I found the very car at the members meeting. I also got to hear its V12 howl as it accelerated away from the chicane – something I had been longing to hear for years.

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The fantastic 70s touring car race is going to do wonders for the price of neglected 70s saloons. Dolly Sprint anyone?

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The Dolly Sprints below seem to have lost a little oil….

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Sports Car Heaven – Alfa leads Aston Martin and Jaguar C Type

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Jaguar Le Mans Prototypes exit the chicane

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Jaguar XJR8LM

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Martini Lancia Abarth 038 Delta S4 – this Group B rally car won the 1986 Monte Carlo Rally

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Group B Rally Renault 5 GT Turbo

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Prost and Lauda Turbo Era McLarens

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Beatrice team Haas Turbo Ford’s

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Visiting Rolls Royce Phantom with serpentine horn!

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Donald Campbell’s Jaguar XK150 Coupe – in Bluebird blue.

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The great Sir Stirling Moss checks out the 70s touring car grid. He drove touring cars in that period as an unsuccessful reprise to his career.

Despite being a motoring enthusiast I have never owned an Alfa Romeo. My chance to taste a bit if Milanese magic came last weekend when I took part in the Throckmorton Challenge, a historic rally day based at the old RAF Pershore in Worcestershire.

My friend Gavin and I have entered the Lands End – John of Groats (LE JoG) endurance rally in December and had entered Throckmorton for some practice. We have done a couple of rallies before but it is safe to say our technique on both tests and regularities needs improvement.

To save having to worry about car preparation and reliability we decided to hire a car from HERO, the organisers of both Throckmorton and LE JoG and their smart early 70s Alfa Romeo GTV seemed just the car. Not only does it look fantastic, it is comfortable and its sweet six cylinder engine gives it bags of torque.

 

Given Gavin’s inability to read a map in motion, I navigate whilst he drives. He certainly has more fun on the tests but I think I have the better time on the regularities. Having to drive at 27 mph or whatever whilst being told to speed up or slow down slightly every 30 seconds is not my idea of fun.

The day consisted of 15 tests and 4 regularity sections. The navigation using tulips was straightforward and we only got lost on the last regularity, a tight, dull maze of cones on the old airfield. Our score was ok but would have been very much better if we had understood the rules relating to self starts and losing and making up time. The tests were challenging and Gavin had lots of fun getting the back of the Alfa out as we over steered through the course on the wet concrete. One test proved very hard – when you get disorientated you can lose your way amongst the cones very easily. Still, we developed a method of navigation on the tests we can hone over the next few weeks that should help us on LE JoG. It will certainly be better than me shouting “over there, on that side” and gesticulating wildly.

We finished 23rd out of 50 cars which we were happy with. On Le JoG we will be in TR6 which should help on the tests. Role on December!

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