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Blast from the past: Beasts of France

As the Retromobile Paris is approaching, I will recall some of the best moments of the shows of recent years. This noble classic car show is one of my favourite automotive events, it is essentially the Paris Motor Show with classic cars. As in the case of the Essen Techno Classica, manufacturers join in to showcase the most cherished pieces. The area where Retromobile beats all other shows, is the participation of high-end collectors and record-breaking auctions.

Last year, the most interesting stage was brought together by Citroen’s recently relaunched premium brand DS. While they might still struggle to fill a fully-fledged stage with new models (that is also changing with the arrival of new crossovers), DS is really in its element at Retromobile. Their theme in 2018 was about presidential limos, since French presidents have been eager to travel in DSs, usually built by Henri Chapron’s workshop near Paris, since the first President of the Fifth Republic, Charles de Gaulle.


One of the most memorable pieces of the exhibition is De Gaulle’s limo, a six-meter-long DS, which accompanied M Le Président during his public appearances. Of all the cars showcased, this is the real Beast 1 (or in this case, Béte Un).

The parade limos of the secretary generals of the Soviet Communist Party, I saw in the Riga Motor Museum might appear more serious, but this DS is far more stylish.

The line-up continues up to the most recent car, Emmanuel Macron’s current DS7 SUV, but I could admire a four-door cabriolet version of a Citroen SM, serving three presidents (Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterand and Jacques Chirac), and also the not so spectacular (yet awkwardly fitting) DS5 of François Hollande.

In addition, three other cars were presented, that were used by presidents, but not as parade limousines.

It is also hard to miss that Citroen is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing their birthday cake at the show. Retromobile Paris will open its gates to the public on 6 February and will remain open until the 10th (Sunday). For more information (access, opening hours, programs), its worth  taking a look at the official website.


A non-partisan yet active car-maniac.