And the unexpected common theme for this year’s show was… electric! Although this form of power currently has centre stage in taking up today’s mobility challenges, it is far from new and it was even preferred to the internal thermal combustion engine before the end of the 19th century! Indeed, a number of manufacturers and exhibitors exhibited various electric hybrid models, telling a story that goes back to the very birth of the automobile.
For its eagerly awaited return to Rétromobile, Porsche showcased the very first hybrid vehicle at its stand – the «Semper Vivus», a vehicle that was unveiled at the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris. It placed it alongside the Porsche Taycan, which went into production in 2019.
Peugeot also presented a fully electric car – the VLV, only 377 of which were produced in 1941. Production ceased at the end of the war. A rare specimen!
The Fédération Française des Véhicules d’Époque went all out and opted for a stand that was electric through and through, with four electric cars and one electric scooter. And retrofitting was showcased at the Méhari Club Cassis stand: visitors got to see a retrofitted 2 CV and find out exactly how it had been converted.
The real stars of the show were around thirty of so farm tractors, exhibited by twelve manufacturers which currently make cars and heavy goods vehicles (Lamborghini, Porsche, Renault, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz and a number of others). Although these vehicles played a key role in people’s lives, they had been out of the spotlight for a long time, and this was the first time they had been showcased. One of them was Renault’s tracked Type HI, which got to celebrate its 100th birthday at this year’s show.
Czech brand Tatra, a small manufacturer with a great history, piqued visitors’ curiosity with the documented round-the-world trip made by two Czech students in the 1950s and a replica of their vehicle – the T87; there was also a Tatra 570, which greatly inspired Ferdinand Porsche in his design of the Beetle.
Škoda celebrated its 125th birthday with the 1908 Laurin & Klement BSC, the only surviving model of the twelve originally built. FCA Heritage showcased Alfa Romeo, celebrating 110 years of the make. Four different versions of the Volkswagen Kombi were shown at the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles stand – and proved extremely popular among visitors.
The 45th edition of Rétromobile was also an opportunity for PSA to celebrate two jubilees: the Citroën GS’s and the legendary DS SM’s.
Without forgetting Bugatti, of course, which apart from exhibiting the extremely famous Bugatti Veyron and a superb Type 35, unveiled “La Maison Pur Sang”, its certification programme for its more recent models. Meanwhile, the Lamborghini Polo Storico showcased its unforgettable Miura, and Aston Martin Works exhibited a number of classic cars with pasts charged with emotion.
And because classic cars are not just for the rich, 200 cars worth under €25,000 went under the hammer as part of a special exhibition, in partnership with Catawiki. The two best automobile experts from Catawiki – the online auction site for collectible items – were on hand to offer advice.
Finally, Rétromobile 2020 was the starting point for a rather crazy adventure: “Three guys on their tobecs” who, in tribute to Georges Monneret and his sons, decided to see if they could get from Paris to Alpe d’Huez in under 13 hours and 45 minutes on their three motobecane D45s (the challenge was to travel from Paris to Alpe d’Huez – a distance of 670 km – in less time than it took the train or the coach in 1948). A challenge successfully met by Igor Biétry, Jean-Claude Amilhat and Thierry Dubois, who left at 10 PM on 5 February and arrived at 4:50 PM on 8 February!