Retromobile’s star has faded in the past two years for motorcyclists and vintage car enthusiasts, as the show’s management has effectively nixed two-wheel participation in favor of more space for new car manufacturers.  The increases in per-square-metre cost (previously, a lower rate applied to bike booths) have begun to squeeze out the smaller autojumble traders who previously made up a healthy proportion of the floor space at the Parc des Expositions, while the show was shortened to 5 days from the previous luxury of 10.

Stacks of gorgeousness; Bugatti Atlantique beside Hispano-Suiza mahogany boat-tail speedster at the Mullin Automotive Museum stand…[Paul d’Orléans]
The show still boasts some amazing four-wheeled machinery, although there is now only a single motorcycle-related stand (Motos Antiquas H-D), plus a few scattered bikes at stalwart BMW (who can always be relied upon to share a few factory treasures), and Skoda, who showed a 1919 Slavia made same factory back in the day.  A few clubs and businesses also included a bike or two, and Artcurial Auctions had a much-improved selection of two-wheelers on offer…so all was not lost, although the Bernard Salvat-curated bike displays of past years are very much missed.

Georg Meier’s famous ’49’, the 1939 Isle of Man TT-Winning BMW Type 255 Kompressor, at the BMW stand. [Paul d’Orleans]
As always, the biggest benefit for visitors is meeting like-minded people from other countries, and it was great to see Alain de CadanetMalcolm Clube, Julian Balme (who laid out the Fisken stand, and covered Salon Privé for The Vintagent in Sep 2011), Conrad Leach, the editors of The, The Dandy, Café Racers (Fr), Octane, Retro Passion, etc, etc…

A ‘Teen’s watercolor of a car/motorcycle race, at the Artcurial auction. [Paul d’Orleans]
For a vintage motorcyclist, you’d need a healthy dose of car-appreciation to justify a trip to Paris for Retromobile, but the Bonhams sale and other moto-spots (see my accompanying posts) in the City of Light make a long weekend worthwhile.  And, always and always, the city itself is the premier attraction, whatever the season…one can never get enough of Paris.

French graphic art legend Denis Sire, true to his Celtic heritage in kilt and tam o’ shanter…with Ray Bans and a Norton shirt! If you don’t know Denis’ work, click here. His drawing of a wildly endowed maid on a Velocette Thruxton has graced my office for over 20 years… [Paul d’Orleans]
Super-rare Wanderer eight-valve V-twin racer on the Motos Antiquas HD stand. [Paul d’Orleans]
The Wanderer 8-Valve in its entirety: a superb engine design, reminiscent of a JAP KTOR, but more valves! [Paul d’Orleans]
On the Fiskens stand; a mighty Bentley open tourer, backed by Nick Clements’ (Men’s File magazine) most recent photographs. [Paul d’Orleans]
BMW brought 3 interesting machines; the ex-Meier RS255, an R100RS which took speed records at Bonneville, and a 1983 Paris-Dakar-winning GS enduro. [Paul d’Orleans]
To the faithful, #49 is a magical talisman…Georg Meier’s Isle of Man TT winner from 1938. [Paul d’Orleans]
The Avignon Motor Festival booth, with a fantastic MGC N3A roadster. The Avignon event was a huge success last year, with an exceptional display of Moto Guzzi racers and Matra cars… What will it be this year? Stay tuned! [Paul d’Orleans]
An original wooden concept study model for the immortal Citroen DS21. [Paul d’Orleans]
At the Hall and Hall stand; More and More expensive kit! This prewar V-16 Auto Union racer was the stuff of dreams. And probably a replica… [Paul d’Orleans]
The remarkable Gérin alloy structured car on The Automobile stand. Many patents granted on the amazing Gérin. The brake drums are the wheel rims… enormous. Leading-link hydraulic suspension, and a one-off engine inside. A very expensive demonstration of its 25-yr old designer’s skill. [Paul d’Orleans]
Explaining the fantastic 1923 Gérin aircraft-technology car on The Automobile / stand… [Paul d’Orleans]
Crazy structure of the 1923 Gérin prototype ‘car’ at The Automobile stand. Built more like an aircraft with in-the-round aluminum spars (even underneath!) and steam-bent oak in their channels, on which the fabric body was tacked. So many patents in one vehicle…there was a crowd all day. [Paul d’Orleans]
The tail of a 1924 Delage V-12 racer, with an aluminum engine-turned body, shot over with clear blue lacquer. Absolutely gorgeous. [Paul d’Orleans]
At the Artcurial auction lineup, an interesting BSA B34 scrambler. [Paul d’Orleans]
V-8 power in a monoposto F1 car of the 60s. [Paul d’Orleans]
A restored 1902 Clément on the Federation of Historic Vehicles (FFVE) stand… I happen to own an unrestored version of the same. [Paul d’Orleans]
“Alas poor Yoricke; I knew him…a man of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now?” Artist Conrad Leach considers a memento mori, formerly found on the hood of a car… [Paul d’Orleans]
A Jaguar D-type short-nose…all tigerish in reflection. [Paul d’Orleans]
NCR-modified Ducati 900 ‘bevel’ engine, track-ready, with a Maserati 3500GT, at Artcurial. In 1989 I very nearly traded a Brough Superior 11-50 for a champagne green Maser like this…they still fetch equivalent value today…albeit much elevated from that benign moment. [Paul d’Orleans]
A replica of the world’s first electric car, from 1881, 6 years before the Daimler; the Ayrton and Perry, the first vehicle with electric lighting… [Paul d’Orleans]
Ice-racing tire studs on a Renault A110 Alpine. [Paul d’Orleans]
No smoking Gitanes around the children…plenty of families visit Rétro. [Paul d’Orleans]
Lovely 1907 FN four-cylinder on the Motos Antiguas HD stand. The first four-cylinder machine to enter the Isle of Man TT, in the very first year of its running. [Paul d’Orleans]
Fabulous, enormous 1904 Griffon poster, by pioneer motoring poster artist Hugo d’Alesi, in the automobilia section. [Paul d’Orleans]
Artcurial’s greatest asset; Iris Hummel. [Paul d’Orleans]
The Automobile’s editor, Jonathan Rishton. [Paul d’Orleans]
Where else would you find it? [Paul d’Orleans]
The Laurin and Klement – powered ‘Slavia’ on the Skoda stand, which attracted plenty of attention. Skoda began in 1895 and – like BSA, FN, Royal Enfield, etc – was originally an arms maker. Laurin and Klement built their first motorcycle (the Slavia) in 1899, and their engines were sold to many other makers. Skoda bought Laurin and Klement in 1924. [Paul d’Orleans]
My favorite moto-painting ever; by ‘Lassim’ from 1932, a French poster artist, but this is a one-off. Lassim was a like-minded fellow; he has peered into my head! [Paul d’Orleans]
MGC Model N3L with original paint on the tank…the aluminum chassis included the fuel and oil tanks! [Paul d’Orleans]
Hubert Auriol and Gaston Rahier’s 1983 Paris-Dakar BMW GS, the winner that year. Hubert Auriol is the first person to have won this punishing event on two and four wheels…the Surtees of the desert! [Paul d’Orleans]
The nail-polish pearlescent Rumi Formichino at Artcurial. [Paul d’Orleans]

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