The Cars and Fashion exhibition was on as part of the Paris Auto Show 2014, displaying some pretty spectacular models. My 10 favourites are featured below.
1. Alfa Romeo Montreal Coupé Bertone
This Coupé is based on a prototype designed by Marcello Gandini (who also designed the Lamborghini Miura), while he was working with Bertone. The prototype was exhibited at the Montreal Universal Exhibition in 1967, with the objective being to create and exhibit “La massima aspiration dell’uomo in fatto di automobili”, man’s highest aspiration in the matter of automobile. Bringing this prototype into production ended up being more difficult than expected and had to wait until the 1971 Model Year. 3.925 were produced between December 1970 and July 1974 and the Coupé Bertone was sold until 1977. It remains one of the most beautiful Italian coupés of the seventies.
2. Maserati Boomerang Concept Car Ital-Design
Giorgetto Giugiaro founds Ital Design in 1968 and presents the Maserati Boomerang in 1971, one of the sassiest concepts of Maserati’s entire history. The Boomerang features a cutting or even bleeding-edge line, anticipating a few years early what would end up being Maserati’s style over the second half of the seventies. The future continues inside with an ultra-modern dashboard that features all instruments grouped inside the steering wheel which literately revolves around the meters.
3. Mercedes-Benz C111-II
The Mercedes C111 was unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1969. This “research-car” intrigued at the time, mainly because of its “cornered” lines pushed to the extreme, its scissor doors, incredible metallic orange paint and body made of glass fiber reinforced plastic. 6 months later at the 1970 Geneva Auto Show, a reworked version, called C111-II was unveiled. It featured a larger boot and quad rotor engine. A total of 14 examples were manufactured between 1969 and 1979, including 6 C111-II, but this model was never commercialised.
4. Alfa Romeo Carabo
The Alfa Romeo Carabo was designed by Marcello Gandini and presented by Bertone in 1968. It marked a brutal severance from the curvy and voluptuous lines that were fashionable at the time. With its irised green colour and golden windshield, the Carabo clearly evokes a beetle – especially with its outstretched hydraulically-assisted revolving doors, hence its name referring to a kind of scarab. This prototype was created in record time, despite the technical challenges posed by an extremely fragile windshield composed of two leafs of glass sandwiching a thin gold leaf.
Unveiled at the Bertone stand at the 1968 Paris Auto Show, the Carabo is a real shock for many visitors, but the warm welcome it received had Alfa Romeo trust Bertone once again for a new V8 Coupé: the Montreal (see above). By imposing its brutal and cuneiform design, the Alfa Romeo Carabo, a strange concept car with psychedelic colours remains, almost 50 years after its creation, one of the most important milestones in the history of automobile design.
5. Renault Alpine A310
At the same time the successor of the twice World Rally Car champion Renault Alpine A110 and aimed at competing with Porsche, the Renault Alpine A310 had a tough task ahead when it launched in 1971. The A310 had a more aggressive look than the A110 with its tight line and 6 headlamps, but was however destined more to gentlemen-drivers than pure rallymen. The interior now sports carpet, is a lot more comfortable than the A110 and its features are much richer. The car is much heavier too at an additional 200kg which will attract criticism from the press, handicapping the car’s supposedly sporty status.
6. Peugeot 402 Eclipse
Invented by amateur designer Georges Paulin, the retractable roof first appeared on the 1934 Peugeot 401, the first car series in the entire world to feature this system. The Peugeot 402 offers a ‘Coach’ version with retractable roof called Eclipse as soon as its launch in 1935. 580 examples would be produced between 1935 and 1941.
7. Renault Juvaquatre Fourgonette
The Renault Juvaquatre is Renault’s first frameless vehicle and was born before World War II. It is also the first Renault to be produced when the brand’s Billancourt factory was rebooted after the war. This vehicle is the symbol of a time when France was lacking everything and most of all cars. It was purchased as humble help for a flurry of small crafts (boulanger, plumber, deliveryman) but was also used as improvised family car, making it the ancestor to the current Renault Kangoo.
8. Citroen SM Carburateur
Aerodynamic, fast and nervous but also comfortable, enjoyable to drive with exemplary handling, the Citroen SM, introduced at the 1970 Geneva Auto Show, is one of the most prestigious cars in the history of automobile. It is the result of a collaboration between Citroen and Maserati (for the engine), this FWD model introduces the notion of “Grand Tourism”, enabling high speed driving at a security levels previously unknown for a series car.
9. Prototype Courrèges Bulle
10. Renault 4 Parisienne