As well as the Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans stand with the pioneering 1928 front-wheel drive Tracta Gephi, the history of Le Mans is in the spotlight elsewhere at the Paris Rétromobile show (7-11 February). Here’s a look a some of the treasures on show.
Before we further explore the aisles of Rétromobile, a quick reminder that there will be a series of autograph sessions on the Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans stand on Friday 9 (14:30- 16:00), Saturday 10 (14:30- 16:00) and Sunday 11 February (10:30-12:00 then 14:00-16:30) (Paris time). Come along and meet Christian Papazoglakis, Johannes Roussel and Denis Bernard who work on the Glénat graphic novel collection devoted to the 24 Hours, and the graphic artists from the Archimède design agency specialised in the 24 Hours.
-Now, let’s start with the ‘pit stop’ to fill up at the Chapal stand, where you’ll be spoilt for choice by the range of high-end leather clothing. The brand’s Rétromobile stand is a replica of the Ferrari garages at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1960s. The idea no doubt comes from the firm’s CEO, Jean-François Bardinon: his family is very well-known in the world of Ferrari collectors and his father the creator of the Mas du Clos circuit. And let’s not forget that Ferrari took six of its total nine Le Mans wins one after the other from 1960 to 1965.
-As usual, the Prancing Horse is well represented at the Paris classic car show. The Cartique by Mechatronik stand is displaying the Ferrari 512 M that finished fourth at Le Mans in 1971, driven by British/American pair Chris Craft and David Weir.
-The same stand also features the only road-approved version of the Porsche 935 K3, the car that won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans with Klaus Ludwig and brothers Don and Bill Whittington as its crew. This ‘road-going’ 953 K3 was owned by Austrian-naturalized Canadian billionaire Walter Wolf, whose XR1 scored three wins in the 1977 Formula One season.
-There is something of a tribute to Le Mans native Jean Rondeau, the only driver to win the 24 Hours in a car he built himself, on the Atlantic Racing stand with the car that finished third in 1980, driven by Briton Gordon Spice and Belgian brothers Jean-Michel and Philippe Martin. This chassis made an astonishing nine appearances in the 24 Hours!
-The William I’Anson stand reminisces on Alpine’s endeavours at Le Mans, with the Alpine A220 driven by Jean Guichet (winner for Ferrari in 1964) and Jean-Pierre Jabouille in 1968 (DNF), and Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jean-Luc Thérier in 1969 (DNF).
-Forty years after the first Formula One victory for a ground-effect single-seater (Mario Andretti’s Lotus 79), the Ascot Collection stand is exhibiting a number of 24 Hours of Le Mans prototypes that applied this technology, with a 1988 Toyota 88C (P24), the Spice that won in the C2 class in 1990 and a Lola-Porsche T600 from 1981.
-As is now the tradition, Le Mans Classic (6-8 July) was officially presented at Rétromobile. The presence of five former winners (Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Stéphane Ortelli, Henri Pescarolo and Marco Werner) has already been confirmed, as well as the usual grids. This year, Le Mans Classic will also include a classic Jaguar race (models up to the E Type (introduced in 1961) are accepted) and a gathering of 70 Porsches for the 70th anniversary of the most successful marque in the history of the 24 Hours (19 overall wins).
Photo: Winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans nine times between 1949 and 1965, Ferrari is always widely represented at Rétromobile. This is the 512 M that finished fourth in 1971.