From 100-year-old Bentley to the 60th birthday of the Mini: British anniversaries and brands
Jaguar and Land Rover showcase the family jewels
Given the flamboyant exhibition of major collectors and multi-million-euro cars at Rétromobile, luxury brands with a distinctive history deliver quite a show as well. The Classic Division of Jaguar Land Rover Group usually boast a pretty decent show, but this year, the stage fell behind my expectations, in terms of the show element, even if the JLR group brought over some of its most iconic models.
Jaguar is presenting a limited-series XJ220, a reminder that the brand flirted with the world of supercars at the end of the 1980s. Between the time it was announced and when it finally went on sale, this impressive 4.93 m sports coupé lost its original 12-cylinder engine in favour of a less noble 3.5 L turbocharged V6. But it could still deliver 542 hp and propel this beast of a car at speeds in excess of 340 km/h. This earned it the status of the fastest production car in the world that was approved for road use. Only 271 of these supercars were ever built, and I see a new one or two every year (sometimes a different one in Essen), so there is quite a high turnover at JLR Classics.
Also exhibited, the Type D Continuation. One of the most emblematic and beautiful racing cars of all time that counts three victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Due to change of rules, a few unfinished D Types remained in the factory, and Jaguar now finishes them. Better late than never… : )
Land Rover exposed a Range Rover Classic Reborn, a car reborn from program that offers customers the opportunity to purchase an original Range Rover directly from Land Rover Classic. The car shown is a Masai Red Range Rover from 1978, that is still being restored and will be for sale at a later stage.
The frontline is completed by a Jaguar XE SV Project 8, that is at the top of performance line powered by a supercharged V8, paired with all-wheel drive. The Project 8 is the most powerful jaguar ever produced for road and the first to feature a 5.0L supercharged 5.0L V8.
Aston Martin’s best stage yet: Bond’s DB5 at your service
The noble British car manufacturer showcased finest examples of the heritage preservation work carried out by its Newport Pagnell plant. This was the site where Aston Martin thrived during the golden days of the David Brown era. Now it’s where Aston Martin Works is located, dedicated to restoring vehicles and keeping spare parts. Upholstery sections for all the vehicles built there are archived and copies of a number of iconic models from its history are manufactured at Newport Pagnell.
In December 2017, for example, Aston Martin began building 25 copies of the DB4 GT Continuation, that were showcased at various classic car shows (including in Paris). This project was recently followed by the sale of a series of 25 DB5s, each one identical to the one used by James Bond in Goldfinger.
The first car on display is a one-of-a-kind convertible (although it is not easy tell as most of its body parts are missing). The car is a 1963 Aston Martin DB4 convertible, the only one of around 70 such cars with the more-potent DB4 GT engine.
The DB4 skeleton was accompanied by a blue a V12 Vanquish (my personal favourite), while the centre podium was taken by one of only 40 Vantage V600 Le Mans, built to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the brand’s victory in the 24-hour Le Mans race.
On the other side, a 1968 DB6 Vantage and a 1960 DB4 Series II awaits visitors.
Bentley to showcase the power and the glory of 100 years
The rather simple stage only feature two cars, a 2019 Continental GTC and a legendary masterpiece, the oldest remaining racing model EXP 2 (notably as EXP 1 was used up for the second version).
60 candles for the Mini in Paris
This year, Rétromobile joined forces with the National Motor Museum of Beaulieu, the Haynes International Motor Museum and Transports Prevost to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the most iconic British car, the original Mini.
The exhibition was conceived by connoisseurs and vintage car enthusiasts, and payed homage to the history of this iconic car by showcasing some twenty different models and variants. Taking the form of a retrospective, it looked back at the beginnings of the brand, featuring – for the first time ever – the prototype chassis designed by a French engineer, Français Dechaux in 1947.
The exhibition showcased many of the models that defined the success of the brand, such as the utility pickup Mini and small commercial van, the Mini Moke originally designed for the British army, the Mini Break Woody, and even the Cooper S and utterly crazy Marcos race car.
Designed by a Greek engineer born in Turkey, Alec Issigonis, who was also inspired by the chassis designed by Français Dechaux, presented at the 1947 Motor Show, which was also on stage here. With front wheel drive and a transverse engine, it was designed to optimize the amount of room for passengers while remaining as small as possible.
Following the inspiration, the National Motor Museum of Beaulieu presented a Mini from the very first model year of the 1959 series.
The long line of minis include a few special ones, like the Mini Moke, that was designed at the request of the British Army was deemed too fragile in rough terrain (well, what did you expect? : ) ). However, the Mini Moke was relatively popular in the civilian version, 50,000 units were produced from 1963 to 1993.
The Mini Cooper S represent the sporty character, as evidenced by the is participation in the Monte Carlo Rally for several years.
But that is nothing compared to complete whacko, the Mini Marcos. In 1965, the British manufacturer Marcos manufactured a series of small fiberglass sports cars based on the Mini architecture. The small racing car has streamlined bodywork, and in its glory days, finished 15th at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
The educational factor was guaranteed by the Haynes International Motor Museum, that presented a rare (wonder why : ) ) Mini that has been cut lengthways.