Jim’s Blog: An American in Paris

Here at ACC, we’ve been talking about the rise in truck and SUV prices for years now. At auctions like Mecum and Barrett-Jackson, regardless of location, yesterday’s worker bee rigs have taken on a new life as coveted collectors items, with prices to match. In fact, it seems like those prices are inflating at every stop along the American auction calendar.

This was fresh in my mind as I boarded a plane for Paris in early February, bound for an event called Retromobile. I’d just left the Scottsdale auctions, where trucks were king, and had just finished putting together the bulk of ACC #43. I’ve been a staffer at ACC’s sister publication, Sports Car Market, for over 12 years, but during that time, Retromobile hasn’t ever been a stop for me — until this year.

What’s Retromobile? Imagine an event that’s a little bit like SEMA in Las Vegas, a little bit like a huge swap meet, and has several high-end auctions that take place both inside the Porte de Versailles Expo center and around the City of Light. But as it’s all in France, there are a lot of strange cars and parts involved. Citroen Mehari anyone? How about a vintage Renault 5? This stuff was everywhere. If you like weird cars, it’s the place for you.

Of course, at the auctions, there were plenty of high-end Porsches, Ferraris, and Jaguars to go around. None of that was much of a surprise. What was a surprise, however, was an immaculate, totally restored and lifted 1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, on offer at the Artcurial auction, just around the corner from a bunch of Messerschmitt KR microcars. 

Having just been in Scottsdale, seeing the Jeep didn’t seem weird — at least not at first. Then I remembered where I was. How did something like that get all the way to Paris? Who would buy and drive it in a city with ultra-high fuel prices and such small quarters for cars? 

I suppose it just goes to show how popular that segment of the market has become — not just domestically, but globally. Somebody somewhere now has a fantastic Jeep in a place where Jeeps are unique, and they paid $56,798 to own it. Considering how nice it was — and where it was — that seems like a deal to me. I just hope that new owner has a ranch out in the French countryside where they can park it.