top of page

Retromobile 2024

Marc Sonnery

Volume 49 Issue 04

Feb 25, 2024

Marc Sonnery goes to Retromobile. Although there are special Ferraris on display there is much more to experience. Retromobile is one of THE shows to attend in Europe.

    The 48th edition of the Paris show was a resounding success and took place January 31 to February 2.

    It has come a long way from the former Bastille train station site in eastern Paris where it started in 1976 as a swap meet with some cars displayed.

    Oldest of the British dealers to display, this time Scot Gregor Fisken - wearing a kilt of course! - had no Ferraris but the most amazing and legendary of all transporters; the Ecurie Ecosse Commer three-cylinder diesel complete with team meeting room.

    It sold in 2013 at the London Bonhams auction for 1.8 million pounds. Oh, and he had several storied Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar ravers to go with it.

    The Girardo stand next door offered a superb selection of racing and road Ferraris.

    333 SP S/N 003 arrived fashionably late, a couple of days after the salon opened, like a prima donna as its flight from the U.S. West Coast was delayed.

    It was the 1994 Geneva Show car and was then delivered to the Scandia team of Andy Evans. It has the special distinction of being one of two Ferraris to have won the Sebring 12 Hours twice.

    First in 1995 with Evans himself, the late Spaniard Fermin Velez and Belgian Eric van de Poele. It won again at Phoenix 2 Hour later that year with Velez.

    After finishing 2nd in 1996 with Evans and the great Michele Alboreto, the second triumph at the central Florida airfield for S/N 003 took place in 1997. Evans and Velez were joined by two top-rank drivers, Stefan Johansson and four-time Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas.


    375 MM S/N 0360 AM was assembled in October 1953 and sold to Piero Scotti from Florence. He took it to the Casablanca 12 Hours in Morocco on December 20, and with 1950 F1 world champion Giuseppe “Nino” Farina as co-driver, and won.

    Scotti won the Senegal 2 Hour in Dakar the following year on March 7 and the Coppa della Toscana, April 11. He also won the Coppa della Consuma and Castelfusano hillclimbs. He did not finish the Mille Miglia in 1954 or 1955.

    In the 1960s it ended up in Reno, Nevada, with Roger Ellis and a decade later was owned by North Carolina’s Norm Silver.
It then went to Italy, was seized by a bank and ended up in the Leslie Wexner collection in Ohio.


    512 M S/N 1024 was bought new by Dr Alfredo Belponer in April 1971 for his Scuderia Brescia Corse.

    His main driver was Marsilio Pasotti who raced under the alias “Pam”. The car was mainly entered in Italian, German, Belgian Interserie events, but did finish 4th with Mario Casono in the 1000 kms at the Oesterreichring, Zeltweg, Austria, June 27.

    He ended its racing program with a flourish at the Malegno-Borno hillclimb which he won outright. Just imagine driving a 512 M in a hillclimb!

    It was later owned by Harley Cluxton, Asterix cartoon designer and Club Ferrari France President Albert Uderzo, U.S. collectors Arnott, Davies, Yeaggy and finally Steven Read who very kindly let me test drive it in 2015 for Classic & Sports Car magazine.

    There is no room here to cover all ten Girardo stand cars such as the 1951 340 America Barchetta S/N 0118 A or the 2002 550 Maranello Prodrive S/N CRD05.

    The 206 S Dino S/N 032 is too irresistible to ignore. Sold new in 1967 to Corrado Ferlaino, he only took part in some local hillclimbs.
It then passed through the hands of a veritable who’s who of collectors: Cupellini, Bardinon (who exercised it on his Mas du Clos circuit from 1979 to 1991), Robs Lamplough, Jack Setton (who also had his own circuit outside Paris), and Brandon Wang from 1997 to 2001.

    But it was the next owner, Brazilian Carlos Monteverde, who really gave it the racing program it deserved.

    From 2001 onwards for six years he raced it in the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge, always well placed even getting a podium at Monza amidst much more powerful machinery and winning the Madgwick Cup at the 2008 Goodwood Revival.

    Last, but not least, on the Girardo stand was 250 GTO S/N 4675 in 1964 long-roof body style. Sold new in May 1963 and raced at French and Italian hillclimbs by Guido Fossati.

    A crash at the September 1963 Tour de France saw the car rebodied that winter in 1964 body style.

    At the Targa Florio, Jean Guichet shared it with Carlo Facetti but a failed gearbox ended their day. However, at Spa on May 17, Guichet came in second in a competitive field of a dozen GTOs. It was then raced in Italy by successive owners.

    After that it was bought by Joseph Zarrara of New Jersey and then passing through the hands of Jim Hall, David Piper, Harley Cluxton, Walter Medlin and on to Japan’s Yoshiho Matsuda in October 1996.

    4675 took part in the 35th 250 GTO Anniversary tour in 1997, in various events in Japan as well as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2004 and the 45th 250 GTO Anniversary tour in 2007.

    It was brokered to Chris Evans and then restored by Ferrari Classiche. In 2012 it passed on to Swiss collector Jean-Pierre Slavic who took it to the 50th GTO Anniversary.

    In 2013 it was acquired by the Lions Head Collection of Tim and Sabrina Persson, who took it to Villa d’Este the following year.

    Geneva-based Kidston had an amazing display.

    Seen at Villa d’Este 2022, 365 GTB/4 Spyder S/N 14389 of Lacoste clothing magnate Thierry Halff is particularly appealing in its buttery yellow Giallo Dino, one of two built in that color.

    It was featured extensively in Robert Altman’s 1973 film “The Long Goodbye”. Its originally-intended owner actually refused the car because the factory delivered it a year and a half late and the MCM Reno dealership wanted to charge him more than planned; he must have sorely regretted it. It was restored in depth in 2013.

    275 GTB/4*S NART Spyder S/N 10709 looked superb next to it. It was the Eddie Smith car, owned from new by the North Carolina entrepreneur and friend of Luigi Chinetti who kept the car forty years until his passing in 2007.

    It is known for its red livery, but it was actually Azzuro Metallizzato new. Smith travelled several times with Chinetti to the factory, first driving from Paris flat out to Maranello then, after long Modenese meals, he would drive his acquisition with gusto to Geneva then on to the Atlantic coast onto a U.S. bound ship.

    An anecdote which is typical of the man is that after Steve McQueen was the innocent victim of a collision in his own NART Spyder he called Eddie to buy his car, not liking the stigma of a damaged car. Smith’s answer? “Steve, I like you, but I don’t love you. And you can’t have my car!”

    After Smith’s passing the family decided the car deserved a new owner instead of sitting in their private museum. In memory of Eddie, they decided all proceeds would go to charity, a beautiful gesture.

    With its unique history it was bound to make headline news. Indeed, the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2013 auction saw it sell for US $27.5 million.

    It was bought by clothing magnate Lawrence Stroll who had it repainted dark blue.


    Making this edition of the Paris salon even more special was the fact that if you brought your extra-long cheque book you had the choice of two 250 GTOs: a stone’s throw from Girardo’s, Kidston was offering S/N 3729 GT.

    Sold new in 1962 to UK racer John Coombs it was the only GTO built in Bianco.

    Coombs had Roy Salvadori and Graham Hill race it respectively at the Peco Trophy at Brands Hatch August 6 and the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood August 18, each finishing second overall.

    Then that winter in an odd move he lent it to Jaguar’s racing department so they could study and copy it in preparing their upcoming E-Type racer. No doubt Il Drake and UK importer Colonel Ronnie Hoare were not informed of this indiscretion til much later or ever lest their wrath be incurred...

    Mike Parkes then began its 1963 season on May 11th when he had an off course excursion at Silverstone during the International Trophy, ruining the front of the bodywork.

    In its next races the most notable results were when Mike McDowell avenged it with second overall in the Whitsun Trophy at Goodwood June 3rd and later when Jack Sears won its class and finished 5th overall at the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch on August 3rd.

    When owned by John Pierce it received the engine of a SEFAC hotrod, but only for a short while, after which a 250 GTE engine was fitted.

    Jack Sears, perhaps nostalgic of his races in it, bought it in 1970. He took part in various GTO anniversaries and other events, keeping it 30 years.

    Seattle’s Jon Shirley, former COO of Microsoft, acquired 3729 in 1999. He took part in countless Ferrari challenge races as well as Cavallino Classic, GTO anniversaries in Europe and Goodwood Revival events.

    A distracted driver collided with the GTO in Burgundy during the 40th GTO Anniversary Tour in 2002 but it was painstakingly restored and emerged two years later at the Quail. Since its original engine had failed and been replaced in the mid-1960s it was decided in 2008 to have the proper thing done, i.e., a new engine was cast and built by Ferrari Classiche, amen.


    Richard Mille, the luxury watch maker, had a stellar lineup like they do each year but this time they outdid themselves.

    Now a major icon of Maranello history, the actual 499P which triumphed at Le Mans last June, bringing the Prancing Horse back to its roots, was there in all its glory, unwashed, covered with the grime and squashed mosquitoes of its 4,660 km run to glory, attracting as much attention as it stirred passion in the Sarthe. One of its three drivers, Antonio Giovinazzi, was in attendance.


    412 P S/N 0854 was also displayed, the headline star of Monterey last summer, where it was the auction topper at Bonham’s at $30 million. It was acquired from the Glickenhaus collection by London-based French oil magnate François Perrodo.

    Next to it was the distinctive and spectacular yellow-liveried 1965 365 P S/N 0828. While that color is that of its second team it actually started life as a factory racer.

    It came second at the April 25 1,000 kms of Monza with Surtees/Scarfiotti then triumphed in the Targa Florio winning with local hero Nino Vaccarella and Lorenzo Bandini. It won again two weeks later at the Nürburgring 1000 kms with Surtees/Scarfiotti.

    It was then sold early in 1966 to Ecurie Francorchamps in Belgium which promptly repainted it in its national color.
0828 was sold in 1967 to French enthusiast Gaetan Tortora who turned it into a road car, having it rebodied into a P3 by Drogo in Modena.

    Tortora then sold it to the noted collector Jean-Claude Bajol in 1972. Five years later it was acquired by Albert Uderzo, the famed designer of the hugely successful Asterix the Gaul cartoon series.

    Alas the car burned badly on track at Imola in 1981 and he sold the remains to Fabrizio Violati who, in a time when fantasy was less frowned upon, resurrected it as a 330 P3/4 via the workshop of Diena & Silingardi in Modena.

    After Violati’s passing it was sold to Christian Horner, the successful team manager of Red Bull F1, who displayed it at Hampton Court Palace in 2020 and took it to the Goodwood Festival of Speed the following two years.

    A 312 PB, S/N 0890, the spiritual predecessor of the 499P was displayed, this one having won the 1972 1000 kms of Francorchamps with Redman-Merzario and the 500 kms of Imola with the latter. He won again in the Kyalami 9 hours with Clay Regazzoni. It was last owned by Brit Paul Knapfield.


    250 LM S/N 5901, with no race history, famously sold via online auction last year by Artcurial, was also shown.


    512 BB/LM S/N 35525, which I saw race to 9th at Le Mans in 1981, awed onlookers with its fluid aerodynamic body and original European University red livery with yellow stars. It was later raced extensively in historic races by collectors Ed Davies, Jean Guikas and Christian Traber.

    Standing out as one of the few Maranello single seaters shown was the 1968 246 Dino Formula 2 and later Tasman series S/N 0010 displayed by dealer Classic Racing Cars.

    It was raced by Ickx, Bell and Tino Brambilla, the latter giving the Prancing Horse its first F2 win at Hockhenheim with a dramatic last lap pass on the grass for the lead.

    It soon was allocated to Ferrari’s then top driver, New Zealander Chris Amon, who took it home for the Tasman series which took place in winter in Australia and in his country.

    The car was then retired and sold to Anthony Bamford in the UK to exercise on his private circuit around the estate’s lake.


    A white 1954 250 Europa Coupé Pinin Farina S/N 0351 EU displayed by Zurich’s Lukas Hüni was quite striking as most of these are usually in dark colors.

    A very unexpected and perhaps hair-raising display was 308GT4 S/N 08358. Its owner, Frenchman Fernando Costa, bought it as a non-running bodyshell and... turned it into Calder-like art pieces by cutting it up. Needless to say this stirred a heated debate. He also documented his controversial deed by producing a book about the process. No one has tarred and feathered him. Yet.

    Among scale models you need not be a genius to tell which is the most desired reproduction this year, be it in 1/18 or 1/43 scale; the Le Mans winning 499P of last June, of course. You can even choose it clean or filthy as it was at the end of the race.


    As always, several bookshops from all over Europe offered a plethora of titles, in fact numerous authors were present such as Keith Bluemel, Marcel Massini, Ronald Stern, Cyrille Jacquinot, and others. The sheer quantity and quality of memorabilia from hood badges, movie posters, trinkets and knick-knacks was overwhelming.


    This was unquestionably an outstanding edition, perhaps the best ever. 130,000 spectators attended to visit 75,000 square meters and view over 1,000 cars.

    At a time when the Geneva show has disappeared, killed by COVID-19 and excessive costs, when the modern Paris car show is a shadow of its former self, just like the Frankfurt show in Germany relocated and lost its way, it is heartwarming to see this huge declaration of love to our classic cars thrive so powerfully, long may it do so.

    The 2025 edition will take place February 5 to 9.


Extra photos from Retromobile





bottom of page