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The 2007 Geneva Classics Show

With the gravitas of Geneva as a financial and humanitarian capital, its central European location and the tradition of the Salon de l'Automobile sited in the very same Palexpo complex, the success of the second edition of the city's classic car lifestyle event surprised no one.

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Left: Unique RHD 4-litre GTO presides at Ferrari Classiche.

Right: Stunning factory loaned Renault recalled era when French firm made luxury cars.

A smaller, more exclusive yet no less interesting Swiss version of Retromobile, the show drew some major exhibitors such as BMW Mobile Tradition with a very slick modern stand and Ferrari Classiche who showcased the unique 268SP (#0798), the 330GTO sold new to Michel Paul Cavallier and an impeccably turned out 512M, with Roberto Vaglietti and his staff welcoming collectors and casual visitors alike. With Renault Histoire et Tradition and the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust also putting on impressive displays, the popularity of manufacturer heritage departments seems to be growing which can only be a welcome phenomenon. While not all will benefit from Mercedes-size budgets it would be good to see as much commitment from Maserati, Lamborghini and Aston Martin.

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Left: World's most valuable car? Ettore's personal Bugatti Royale: 21 feet long, 12.7 litres...
Right: Rally theme for Girard Perregaux (run by former rallyman Gino Macaluso)

Highlights included perhaps the most valuable car extant and certainly many collectors' dream, the Bugatti Royale Coupe Napoleon kindly loaned by the Musée National de l'Automobile in Mulhouse, a selection of iconic rally cars vaunting the merits of Girard Perregaux timepieces, a Mille Miglia 80th anniversary themed display on Chopard's central stand (including examples of the Porsche 550RS Spyder and Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Zagato) and some 80 classics to suit all tastes and budgets in the auction 'corral' at one end of the main hall, ranging from an affordable Porsche 911T to a genuine Blower Bentley.

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Left: Gregory Noblet (left) and Ferrari historian Antoine Prunet.
Right: Cosmopolitan collectors were out in force.

Kidston SA put on a show for their guests combining the style of Le Mans and Goodwood of yesteryear, with a full size pit counter, vintage Castrol drums in abundance and an audio visual presentation to accompany the seven cars on display, which included the ex-Pierre Noblet Ferrari 250MM berlinetta. Noblet's son Gregory arrived with Ferrari historian Antoine Prunet and swapped anecdotes about the car and Noblet senior, now aged 85 and still riding a motorcycle with other silver haired bikers!

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Left: Classic hydroplanes were a hit...
Right: ...and the vintage aircraft created a stir too.

A very interesting group of Swiss bodied cars graced one end of the hall with rarely seen vehicles clad by the likes of Ghia Aigle or ItalSuisse. There were model shops, art, books old and new...even vintage clothiers from England (tweedy) and Germany (Gulf Oil logos on everything). Unlike other shows Geneva Classics also caters to fans of beautiful old wooden boats, a number of which were displayed, seducing many new to that fast growing collectible segment, while the Vintage airplane display out on a closed off section of the adjacent Cointrin International Airport taxiways was an impressive sight to even the most untrained eye. These must be much more complex to keep in the air than almost any vintage car on the road yet the day before the show's inauguration they proudly flew in above Geneva and the lake to boisterously announce their arrival and the show, leaving unprepared pedestrians speechless. Here's to the already anticipated third edition of Geneva Classics in 2008.



A couple of weeks earlier and a few hundred kilometres to the south in the fiscally friendly republic of San Marino, between Bologna and the seaside town of Rimini, the privately owned Maranello Rosso museum hosted its annual Festa dei Motori.

A very nice bash for friends and public alike, for this second edition of the event it was decided to baptise it "Concours d'Elegance Dynamic Style", namely to drive each car around the streets of the tiny and picturesque republic, in sharp contrast to the purely static and occasionally sterile concours format. Guests of honour included 250GTO designer Giotto Bizzarrini and Lancia Stratos driving legend Sandro Munari. A fine selection of 50 cars was displayed and driven, including a complete retrospective of rear-engined V6 and V8 Ferraris from the 246 Dino to the present day to coincide with the simultaneous launch in Frankfurt of the 430 Scuderia. Other awards went to a Ferrari Daytona for originality, a Maserati MC12 for dynamic style and, less elitist, two were awarded to Fiat vehicles, albeit very different: one was a 131 Rally Abarth, very successful in its day, which was granted the Functionality and Performance award, while the pretty 1100 LWB by Stabilimenti Farina had been made for the 1947 Concorso d'Eleganza at Villa d'Este and, six decades later, amply deserved its Timeless Design award.

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Left: Yes, San Marino really does have an army...
Right: Take note: Italian Ferrari owners drive their cars... in the rain!

The event proved very popular with spectators four deep along the demonstration itinerary and benefited from the full cooperation of the Repubblica di San Marino, support the likes of which many classic car event organisers can only dream of. Mark you calendars for next September, a wonderful time to visit Italy still warm yet without the summer crowds.

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Left: One 250GTO which didn't make the Anniversary Tour in Napa Valley, preferring to stay closer to home.
Right: Dino and Superfast compare curves.

Photos Credits: Steve Wakefield, PM Images & Maranello Rosso Museum