The Five Different Kinds of Car Nuts at Retromobile

Jim Yu
by Jim Yu
the five different kinds of car nuts at retromobile

Last weekend, I checked out Retromobile in Paris, a huge car show bringing together new car manufacturers, classic car dealers and auction houses, mom-and-pop businesses, and car clubs. Even though I didn’t speak a word of French, sharing a convention floor with tens of thousands of Frenchmen over a span of two days got me to know them much better. Make the jump to see the five species of French car aficionados.

1. The Richie Rich. You recognize this guy from a kilometer away. He is casually, but impeccably, dressed. His blazer, belt, and shoes alone probably cost more than your freshman year tuition (plus room and board) at that state school you attended. He is here for the auctions, probably eyeing that 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder they found in that barn. Surprisingly, his wife is age-appropriate. Classy.

2. The Nostalgic Duo. These two are best friends from high school or college. They have been going to car shows together for ages. In fact, with marriage, careers, and children, they make an effort to go to Retromobile together every year. They can be spotted because one guy will always be pointing at a familiar car to the other guy. The one guy always starts with: Remember when Thierry’s dad let him borrow his Triumph TR4, just like this one? Or: Remember when we fit six people in a Golf just like this one for that ski trip in ’83?

3. The Responsible Father. This is the car enthusiast father who will make it his mission in life to instill and share his love for cars with his children, whether they are boys or girls. This is very sweet.

4. The Gawking Geek. Usually travels alone. He is on the prowl. When he sees that gun metal gray Bugatti EB110, he reminds himself that when he goes home, he needs to log the sighting into his Supercar Sighting Excel Spreadsheet. He hunts for and buys that Porsche 928 S4 owner’s manual, in French, even though he will never own a real life Porsche. You can also find him drooling over 1/43 scale diecasts of stretched Volvo sedans and wagons. Because, why not!

5. The Net-less Wonder. This takes dedication. These are the old timers with the French equivalent of Aol email accounts and businesses with websites hosted by the French equivalent of Angelfire. They have a 1956 Talbot that they are trying to restore but do not know how to go online to find parts. They look forward to an event like Retromobile because it is one of the rare opportunities to meet someone else face-to-face who can help them obtain the rare part they need.

So, all in all, what did I learn? That car enthusiasts are the same everywhere. And though outwardly I had nothing in common with the other attendees, I felt we were all brothers.

Images source: Jim Yu

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3 of 13 comments
  • Lon888 Lon888 on Feb 11, 2015

    Wish I was there - my wife and me would be drooling over old Citroen's and Renault Alpines.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Feb 11, 2015

    Enjoyable article, needs many more photos! That EB110 looks dark blue to me. The Peugeot box sedan looks alright, clean lines. But at that era, I'm pretty sure French build quality was absolutely terrible.

  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??