For most auto enthusiasts in America, Monterey Car Week is the pinnacle of automotive events. Nowhere else in the U.S. can you see such high-caliber metal on display, from iconic race cars and ultra-rare hypercars to weird one-offs and forgotten classics. But without a boatload of money for tickets, a lot of Pebble Beach’s events are inaccessible, leaving you to just car-spot on the street. (Don’t get me wrong, that is always awesome.) I just got back from a trip to Paris, where I attended Rétromobile, traditionally the first major classic car show of the year, and it pretty mind-blowing. Move over Pebble Beach, this is my new favorite car show.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so there were dozens of iconic endurance race cars on display. High-end dealers, parts suppliers, local car clubs and other organizations were all present, each showing great automotive variety. Automakers like Citroën, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault and Volkswagen had large booths showcasing cars old and new. More than 1,000 vehicles were on display in total, spread between 500 exhibitors over nearly 800,000 square feet of expo hall.
In addition to actual vehicles, Rétromobile was host to scores of booths selling scale-model versions of every car you could think of, lots of rare and model-specific books and magazines, automotive-themed art home décor, and a seemingly endless amount of obscure car parts. One store had hundreds of taillights and gauge clusters for old French cars, while another was stocked exclusively with McLaren F1 parts.
Best of all, Rétromobile is totally open to the public. This year’s show ran for 5 days, and tickets cost less than $25. You might think that meant all of the fanciest cars and booths were roped off and not accessible, but you’d be wrong. Some of the most exclusive metal at the show was freely accessible to all, with company representatives more than happy to show you around.
Read on to see a handful of my favorite cars from Rétromobile 2023. Next year’s show has already been announced, with the 48th Rétromobile to take place from January 31 through February 4, 2024. Book your hotels and plane tickets now — Rétromobile is absolutely worthy of being the centerpiece of a Paris vacation.