Car Show Photo Report: Rassemblement de Voitures Anciennes et de Collection à Vénès, Tonneins, France, August 2023

CC has seen photographs from this show in previous years before, both as a photo report and and as illustrations in various posts. But this year, the account will be slightly different, as we were able to participate with the 1996 Alfa Romeo Spider Twin Spark, as part of a summer holiday journey though France. Reportedly, 1200 cars and over 8000 visitors, though no one seemed to be counting or recording anything or anyone. Let’s take a gentle walk around and spot some of the highlights and my favourites, in no particular order.

First, because it was the first photo I took, my Spider, which happened to be alongside a Alfetta GTV. Purely coincidental…

The Peugeot 404 gets a lot of respect here on CC, quite rightly.

This coupe shows Pininfarina’s skills off well too.

Measured anecdotally, the Simca Aronde in its various guises is a popular French classic. Does the usual rule of affordability and relative simplicity apply?

This two tone looks a bit aftermarket but sort of works.

A Plein Ceil (clear skies is perhaps the best translation in this context) sports derivative of the Aronde.

The open top version of the Plein Air was the Oceane –  a sort of Sunbeam Alpine for France.

I have said before, only slightly tongue in cheek, that a British car show is not legally complete without a Morris Minor. My impression from this show is that, perhaps because the show was organised by the local Peugeot club, was that the Peugeot 203 (1948-1960) fulfils that role in France. Saloon or convertible? To help your decision, it was 37 deg C.

The car’s North American derived styling is apparent. Still works for me though and, I suspect you too.

And with a 404 for company. But what’s hiding behind the 203?

A Matra-Simca Bagheera, a sports car built by Matra using a mid mounted Simca 1100 (Simca 1204) drivetrain and with three seats abreast.

Pretty striking from the rear too. A French take on the Triumph TR7 or Fiat X1/9 if you like.

Of course, the Citroen DS was represented, several times over, as it should be.

That shape will never lose its appeal, or its ability to remind us how this car, for all its advances, abilities and achievements,  was introduced whilst Winston Churchill was Britain’s Prime Minister and before Charles De Gaulle was President of France.

These cars are all 1968 on Series 3 with the revised nose and headlights.

Never matched in its lifetime – discuss?

Look closely at this one though –  a two door coupe. I’m hoping someone in the CC Commentariat will be able to tell me more.

Was this my favourite Citroen of the show? Very likely – this SM looked absolutely stunning in (unusual) bright red and the southern French sun light.

SM stood for “Sports Maserati”, as that was where the engine came from. My favourite six cylinder car of the 1970s? Very probably.

The Traction Avant alongside the SM was one of many.

I’ll defer to the CC Commentariat to spot the most special, though most appear to be post war to me.

And don’t forget to look in the background – there were some fascinating cars there, some of which will pop up in future posts.

There was a good selection of less exceptional but still interesting cars too.

A Renault 12 – once a regular sight but not now.

Is the Citroen Ami photobombing the 12? Behind a row of Renault Estafette vans?

Here’s the Citroen in all its own glory. Still ugly, though.

Most definitely not ugly is the Renault 17 – perhaps my favourite saloon to coupe of the 1970s.

Those rear grilles paired with frameless windows and a 1970s masterpiece of an interior are enough for me to be tempted…

A Simca 1100 (1204 in North America) with French hot rod supplementary yellow lamps. Up there with cold white wine and fish pate for me, somehow….

And the Renault that was supposed to beat it – the 14, nicknamed la poire (the pear). The advertising linked the shape to the fruit, the name of which is also French slang for gullible…..shakes head….

An early 2CV. How early? Someone will know.

Not the most indulgent car of the car by any means.

A 1976-80 Ford Taunus, the first Taunus completely twinned with the UK market Cortina, and built on the platform of the 1970 visually different Cortina and Taunus.

This is a 1.6litre Ghia, a specification not offered in the UK. Ghia was reserved for the 2.0 litre, and few let their neighbours and colleagues forget it.

A Peugoet 204, one of several, as well as the later, 204 derived, 304. This was France’s best seller in the mod-late 1960s, deservedly.

You may consider the styling a bit dull, understated or even dumpy. There was little else to object to.

A later attempt at a similar spot in the market –  a Talbot Solara, the saloon derivative of the Simca 307/1308/Chrysler Alpine hatchback. Few remain anywhere.

Outside marque loyalists, few have much recollection either. And please, as Tatra87 has said before on CC, don’t confuse this Talbot with the original one.

There were many stars at this show, some of which will be coming in Part 2 soon and some in their own posts. And how did the Alfa do?

We did 2000 miles in France, all bar the first day with the roof down, travelling from the Channel Tunnel at Calais, round Le Mans to the south west, then across to Tournus in Burgundy, and back home through Troyes in the Champagne region and the Somme (and a British Commonwealth War Grave Commission memorial) with no mishaps beyond a blown fuse. Does every car have the interior accessory power socket and brake lights on the same 20 amp fuse? Anyone else driven 300 miles from western France to eastern France with no brake lights and not realised it?

And in 2000 miles, we didn’t see one other Alfa Romeo GTV or Spider (Tipo 916)!