Live broadcast of the 2015 RM Auctions Paris Sale, Les Grandes Marques au Grand Palais by Bonhams, Artcurial’s Retromobile sale, and Retromobile. Text & Images : Mickael B. ©
Part 1 : Monday 2nd February 2015
And we are back for the second year in Paris for this first very important automotive week of 2015, starting tomorrow with the RM Auctions Preview at the Palais des Invalides at 10 AM. After a very satisfying 2014 edition and very interesting experience of all the events offered during the first real automotive week of the year, we decided to come back in the french capital this year, and will be trying even to improve your experience of the event, by providing even more photographs, insights, and automotive emotions.
After quite a delayed journey on the train to Paris, thanks to the heavy snow and the french railwork company, we finally arrived in the capital four (yes, four!) hours late on our schedule. Not that we had any meetings or appointments but when you expect a three and a half hour trip and end up doing 8 hours instead in the train, I wouldn’t say that we had really enjoyed our trip. Still, we were in Paris, and having nothing to do on this first day of the week, as all the events started on Tuesday, with the RM Auctions Preview and the Retromobile press afternoon, we decided to do a little bit of shopping on the Champs Elysées. Having found a very nicely located hotel on the Ile Saint-Louis, we decided to head there by foot, travelling all the way through Notre Dame de Paris, the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries, and Place de la Concorde. A superb one hour walk through the french capital, rediscovering the classic architecture, and all the elements that make this city so charming. As soon as we arrived on the Champs-Elysées, a Rosso Corsa Ferrari 355 Berlinetta and this light blue Alfa Romeo Giulietta were the best greeting to make us forget the long journey we had had.
Just before heading to the Grand Palais, where Bonhams is holding its auction Les Grandes Marques au Grand Palais, a very nice Mercedes SL 500 passed by, and it was the occasion for me to test the performances of my new Canon EOS 7D Mark 2 on some dynamic shots. Not bad. Knowing that the english auction house used to load up its cars in the back alley of the Grand Palais, we went there just as a truck was delivering free its last lot, a red Fiat Dino 2400 Spider. We waited there a while to check if some other trucks were arriving, in vain. Thus we headed back to the Champs Elysées where I knew that there was a few automotive brands holding their own shops.
The first automotive shop we went to was Citroën’s, which proposed a discovery of the development of its latest Cactus model, from the very first concept to the production. The interior, the chassis, and even some of the Cactus manufacturing machines were showed up for tourists or enthusiasts to admire. Although I never liked the car itself, from almost every angle, with the front and rear lights, and the side plastic bumpers, I must admit the concept behind it remains interesting, with the possibility to transport six people, and surfing on the small cities SUV trend.
In the underground of their building, the two Chevrons brand had, as usual in its Paris store, showed up one of their racing cars, the WTCC C-Elysées racing car, driven this season by four different drivers, Lopez, Qing Hua, WTCC legend Yvan Müller, and WRC legend Sebastien Loeb. Probably not the prettiest Citroen of them all, just as the Cactus, in comparison with the very sexy DS Series, the C-Elysées is a very popular sedan car sold by the french manufacturer in China and other industrial emerging countries.
We arrived to the Mercedes-Benz store, with a big deception as actually the Stuttgart brand had none of its old cars presented. Being the oldest automotive brand ever in existence, and considering the very rich history of the manufacturer, I found it disappointing to find not a single 300 SL, a first generation S Class or similar car that had contributed to the success of Mercedes-Benz. For our consolation though, Mercedes-Benz had brought not one, but actually two of its C-Class DTM series racing car. Having loads of competition with the BMW Z4s, and the Audi RS5 DTM especially, the Mercedes-Benz could count on the great experience of their AMG racing department in Affalterbach to keep up the level of their cars to the best.
The two configurations brought up were technically the same, both having the reworked and tuned 4 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine developping 450 horsepower to the rear wheels, but aesthetically they were very different, as you can see by yourself. The other only interesting car brought by the Stuttgart manufacturer was the 2013 version of their formula 1, driven by Lewis Hamilton, but I never really liked these modern F1 cars, especially since 2006 and the beginning of the downsizing and the aerodynamic nonsenses.
We headed to the Georges V avenue, one of the most prestigious of the french capital but found no interesting cars near the luxury hotels, surprisingly. So we went to the BMW store nearby and can you imagine my surprise when we discovered the 2001 BMW Gina Concept ? I had never seen this car in the flesh ever before, missing it when it came at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este last year in 2014, and had been fantasizing on how incredible it was. With its simple but brilliant idea of an electronically adjustable bodywork, it can hide or make appear some of its own parts, such as the front lamps or the engine bay.
Inspired from the legendary roadsters of the Munich’s manufacturer retracing their DNA up to the gorgeous 507, the Gina was certainly a prelude for the Z8, the Z4 and even the 6 Series Convertible. Designed under the Chris Bangle era at BMW, it really showed how much this man was a visionary for the automotive industry, changing the way we imagined cars, pushing even further the limits of design, that we thought would never bring such fresh and revolutionary ideas.
As I had already been there back in December, I had had the opportunity to admire the only racing car BMW Motorsport had showcased, and which hadn’t change during this two months period, an E92 BMW M3 Le Mans Series Art Car. It has always been a tradition for BMW to build art cars, promoting both famous and less famous artists by simply giving them away a car to paint. The most famous creation of this series is certainly the Andy Warhol BMW M1 Procar, which has, thanks to the american artists touch, significantly increased in terms of value.
After a good lunch back on the Ile Saint Louis, we decided to go back to the Grand Palais just to check out if some more trucks maybe had arrived, but were again unsuccessful. So in a desperate attempt to admire any beloved sports, collector or prestige automotive, we crossed the bridge onto the Palais des Invalides where the RM Auctions will be held, but didn’t have much more chance either. Thus, we headed back to our hotel and went on for a good night of sleep before the real stuff beginning tomorrow.