French Cars at Retro by Hugues Vanhoolandt February 13, 2013 By vanhoolandt The star of Retromobile this year was the Citroën DS, presented at the Paris Show in 1955. Nothing like this had ever been seen before. Photos and Captions by Hugues Vanhoolandt Retromobile presented a retrospective of the Leyat Helica, a very strange motorcar designed by an ingenious Frenchman, Marcel Leyat. 23 examples were built between 1913 and 1926. Another French skilled craftsman was Germain Lambert who built this coupé. Presented at the 1948 Paris Salon, its design was inspired by the Bugattis of the time. As promised, Black Bess was proudly in attendance at Retro. Ferry was another of these French artisanal manufacturers. After many class wins in Europe, the 750 Sport ended its racing career in California driven by John Green. On the rally front, the Alpine-Renault with the A110, dominated the scene in the early 70s and clinched the 1st World Rally Championship in 1973. In 1934, the Peugeot 401 ‘Coupé Eclipse’ became the 1st production car with electric retractable roof. Darl’Mat is better known for the 302 and 402 coupes and roadsters but some 120 Peugeot 203 saloons were transformed by lowering the body and the suspensions as well as upgrading the engine capacity. The 235 coupe was the last car offered by Delahaye. This example of 1952 is bodied by Henri Chapron. The new DS was such a success that 80,000 orders were been placed during the 1955 Salon. One of the most sought-after versions of the DS is the cabriolet, produced between 1960 and 1971. The car you see here is a 1964 DS19 U.S. version. This Citroën SM was also destined for the US market as it is fitted with specific front end lights. The Renault Alliance is the US version of the Renault 9. Built in Wisconsin between 1982 and 1987, this 1986 cabriolet version is fitted with an unusual (for USA) manual gearbox. At the end of the 60s, the Matra team became a strong contender in the chase of the victory at Le Mans. This MS650 finished 4th of the 1969 edition.