Re­view: Reims Salon

Sparkling 30th an­niver­sary event at­tracts thou­sands of vis­i­tors

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Gary Axon

’Now the word is def­i­nitely out as to what a great event this is’

For most of the 30 years that the Salon Champenois du Véhicule de Col­lec­tion in Reims, France, has been run­ning, this in­for­mal and down-to-earth clas­sic car show has been a well-kept se­cret, at­tract­ing mainly lo­cal French en­thu­si­asts, plus a few neigh­bour­ing Bel­gians.

Now, though, the word is def­i­nitely out as to what a great event this is, as this year’s mid-March event in the Cham­pagne cap­i­tal of the world at­tracted more than 35,000 vis­i­tors spread over just two days, trav­el­ling in their clas­sics from as far afield as Ger­many, the Nether­lands, Switzer­land, and Swe­den, with a healthy con­tin­gent of Brits present as well.

This event is split into three main parts, with a huge dis­play of hun­dreds of clas­sic cars parked out­side the Reims Parc des Ex­po­si­tion com­plex, sup­ported by a mas­sive Beaulieu-style open air au­to­jum­ble (a must for those seek­ing any elu­sive French car spare parts), plus the main in­door show, with car clubs and more au­to­jum­ble spread over a num­ber of halls.

The Reims salon is a back-to-ba­sics show, cater­ing for reg­u­lar en­thu­si­asts with reg­u­lar clas­sic cars, so in place of the usual spe­cial­ist deal­ers sell­ing ex­pen­sive high-end Porsches, Fer­raris and Mercedes, dozens of lo­cal clas­sic car clubs make a spe­cial ef­fort to en­ter­tain and put a show on for the vis­i­tors, most ad­her­ing to the ‘Happy Birth­day’ theme for this year’s 30th an­niver­sary event.

The lo­cal Ami­cale Tri­umph Spit­fire, Fiat 500 and Citroën 2CV clubs in par­tic­u­lar merit spe­cial men­tion, the lat­ter even in­clud­ing live chick­ens in its farm­yard-themed dis­play, along with hip­pies in a ‘peace and love’ Citroën Dyane (cel­e­brat­ing its 50th an­niver­sary this year) hand­ing out flow­ers!

In the ex­ten­sive ded­i­cated park­ing area, rar­i­ties we spot­ted in­cluded a 1972 Mazda RX-2 Coupé, 1962 BMW 700 Coupé, 1963 CD Pan­hard Coach, 1981 AMC Ea­gle and a Spanish-built Re­nault Si­ete ( ba­si­cally a Span­ish­built Re­nault 5 three-box sa­loon). Vive la dif­férence!

Most eggs-cel­lent – the citroën 2cV clubs took their farm­yard-themed dis­play ex­tremely se­ri­ously, go­ing as far as in­clud­ing some live chick­ens in among the cars! rows of pop­u­lar French cars basked in the sun­shine out­side the reims Parc des ex­po­si­tion com­plex – in­clud­ing this im­pres­sive line-up of re­naults. There were birth­day cakes ev­ery­where you looked as part of the 30th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions – in­clud­ing on top of the re­nault Fré­gate club’s Manoir break.

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