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Beyond the concept cars and unveilings of some of the world’s most significant new models, the 2016 Paris motor show hid a treasure trove of other interesting vehicles from the past and present.
International motor show press days are usually all about the day-long procession of press conferences, where the world’s motoring media schlep from stand to stand like a slow-moving Under-6 soccer team.
But there’s always plenty more going on, with older concepts and race cars often found on the edges of big stands, smaller car brands, component and service suppliers, along with classic car auction houses and the like hidden around the back of the big halls. Here are some of the highlights we spotted this year.
The second-generation Audi Q5 and RS3 sedan were the headline acts on Audi’s stand, but just metres away was the #8 2016 Audi R18 Audi Sport Team Joest World Endurance Championship race car of Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval, Oliver Jarvis that came third in this year’s Le Mans 24hr. These LMP1 cars look impressive in pictures and on television, buy they truly look other-worldly when parked next to regular road cars.
Opposite Audi but tucked around the corner at the very edge of the Porsche stand, was the 2016 Le Mans 24hr-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid WEC racer of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb. You’d be doing well to get near any of these LMP1 cars at a race event, but to be able to stand inches from two of them within such close proximity was a real treat.
The Paris LMP1 story didn’t end with the Porsche stand either. Out the back of one of the more trade-oriented pavilions was the official Le Mans 24hr stand, with the 2015-winning Porsche 919 of Nico Hulkenberg, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy –still resplendent in race grime.
Perched cleverly right next to the café on Mercedes’ giant stand was the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept from Pebble Beach. This is one seriously stunning concept, and an excellent case study for elegant design in general. Just when the luxury car world seems to be shifting towards blingy SUVs with more chrome than Google, Mercedes hits us with the Maybach 6 that somehow balances modern details with art deco poster-like grace. Fingers crossed we’ll see it at Motorclassica in Melbourne next month.
The huge BMW stand’s centrepiece was the surprisingly appealing X2 SUV coupe concept, but parked just outside was an armoured X5 similar to the ones used by the AFP to shuffle and protect local dignitaries. These X5 Security models are brilliantly disguised, with even the usual black-framed bulletproof glass hallmark difficult to spot on this example. Someone has done their best to hide flashing lights beneath the kidney grille, but these are actually what twigged our attention in the first place. We just wonder which of BMW’s attending VIPs it was waiting for.
Seeing the new Yaris World Rally Car on the Toyota stand was no real surprise, but the Gazoo Toyota C-HR production racer from this year’s Nurburgring 24hr added some real cred to the C-HR baby SUV road car’s public debut.
A race track isn’t usually the domain of any small SUV, but completing the world’s most gruelling 24 hour production car race suggests there may actually be some ‘sport’ in this Sport Utility Vehicle. It also says a lot about the durability of the C-HR’s new 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine.
The new Suzuki Ignis mini-SUV revealed at the show is a surprisingly edgy design, but we’ve always got time for obscure 70s Japanese design inspirations we’ve never heard of, like the Cervo, to appear alongside the fresh metal.
The Ignis’ distinctive C-pillar notches and headlights within its grille are clear genetic links with the Cervo, but the diminutive ancestor proved an excellent reminder of just how small ‘small’ once was.
The new 3008 mid-size SUV is striking enough as a road car, but the Dakar-spec 3008 desert racer also on show was hidden behind the Peugeot stand alongside the 208 Rallycross machine driven by Sebastian Loeb in 2015. The brand may not be racing in the WRC or at Le Mans these days, but they still make some pretty awesome competition machines.
Speaking of Dakar Peugeots, hiding among the trade stalls was this 205 T16 desert racer. We’re not sure of its exact provenance, but the Esso signage suggests it’s not the 1987 or 1988 winning car.
Taking up the most space on the Fiat stand was a gorgeous Riva Aquarama speed boat, brought in to celebrate the new Riva edition of the 500 hatch. We’ve lost count of how many Italian brands have been associated with special editions of the 500, but this is the first seagoing brand for sure. Another surprise on the edge of the Fiat stand was the Fiat Fullback, a re-nosed and wheeled version of the Mitsubishi Triton ute. Full marks for the name, Fiat (pun unintended).
Citroen’s highlight was the frankly brilliant-looking C3 hatch, but the DS sub-brand’s dark and enclosed stand was playing their perpetual game of ‘how much more kudos can we squeeze out of the original DS?’ On hand were a bunch of scale models from the ‘Goddess’’ development in the early 50s, but none of the show’s five (by our count) full-scale examples were on the Citroen stand.
The Ferrari stand was awash with the LaFerrari Aperta and a bunch of conspicuously-stickered 70th anniversary models, but the Pirelli stand in one of the trade pavilions used an F12tdf as its centrepiece. Just 799 examples are built of the super-F12 that references the styling of the GTO cars from the 60s.
Firestone eschewed the supercars of its rival tyre brands, instead choosing a Firestone-liveried split-window VW Kombi as its centrepiece. Cheers to that.
Another stand seeming to sell classic and modern race vehicles (their signage was in French) had what appears to be a genuine Tojeiro Jaguar Ecurie Ecosse racer, a rally-spec Alpine A110 and the World Touring Car Championship Honda Civic that won the 2016 Art Cars prize.
Exlusive Drive is an exotic car festival held in Le Mans each March, but their stand featured this Ford GT that could have been formerly owned by Jeremy Clarkson and this shaken but not stirred Aston Martin DB5. We were just happy to have a look.
Coys had at least three stands full of classic exotica at the show. We’ll just let you sift through the gallery above. Try not to drool on your keyboard.
We’re not sure what link there is between bagless vacuum cleaners and original Minis, but we’re glad they had this very original-looking Austin Mini Cooper (non-S) on their stand.
Proving you can probably find anything at an international motor show if you explore far enough was this little stand up the back of a trade pavilion. A bunch of passionate older chaps from a club whose official name we forgot to note were showing off an early Citroen DS police car and a Simca paddy wagon.