It's often all too easy for us auto scribes to buzz in and buzz out of the auto shows we are covering without ever really finding our center of gravity – we're too busy attending press conferences, cranking out copy or perhaps just too jet-lagged to really take in what a tremendous privilege it is to see these new automobiles before everyone else – let alone properly appreciate what it is to be in some of the world's greatest cities. Every once in a while, a reality check is in order, and the Paris Motor Show's Pavilion 8 has just provided it for me.
Pavilion 8 is a sumptuous feast of curves and angles mixed in with wonderfully bizarre engineering and aesthetic decisions.
Pavilion 8, in the nether reaches of the show's massive footprint, houses a special exhibition called Cars and Fashion curated by Mondial de l'Automobile and INA, France's National Audiovisual Institute. It's a wondrous collection of mostly French automotive history paired with a backdrop of period fashions, and it's not only the most memorable display I've encountered on the auto show circuit this year, it's the best thing I've seen in all of Paris during my short stay.
From obvious first-ballot French Automotive Hall of Fame-type picks like the Citroen DS 19 and Renault 4 to many seminal cars and rolling curiosities from all over the world ranging from the age of the Ford Model T to present day, Pavilion 8 is a sumptuous feast of curves and angles mixed in with wonderfully bizarre engineering and aesthetic decisions – many on the same vehicles, and many of them French.
Will any of the cars revealed at the 2014 Paris Motor Show warrant inclusion at such an exhibition decades from now? Do we enthusiasts and critics have the foresight and perspective to consistently recognize greatness or extreme folly when it rolls out on a stage in front of us? I'd like to think so, but I'm not always sure. By displaying such a broad array of fascinating cars of different vintages, intent and origin, Pavilion 8 has given me something pretty elusive – a bit of perspective.
Filled with intergalactic hits and spectacular flops, I can't help but wonder if the difference between the two is lacking support from the right parties.
It's a bit on-the-nose, but my jet-lagged self couldn't resist watching a bit of Disney's Ratatouille last night after Day One of our show coverage in the wee hours of the morning. The film, as you may recall, takes place in Paris in the shadow of the Eiffel tower, much like the hotel I happened to be staying at.
I've always loved the movie, in particular the character of Anton Ego, the stern-faced food critic who has a revelation at the end of the film regarding the propensity of professional reviewers to indulge in smugness and not come to the aid of those challenging preconceptions and bringing forth iconoclastic ideas. "The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends." Anton may have been speaking of food, but he could just as easily have been talking cars. Pavilion 8 is filled with intergalactic hits and spectacular flops, and I can't help but wonder if the difference between the two has as come down, as often as not, to lacking support from the right parties, be they car fans, executives or reviewers like us. I'm not sure what all of these thoughts rolling around in my head mean yet, but perhaps scrolling through the gallery above, you'll find something you've been missing, too.
To borrow a phrase: Thanks, Pavilion 8, for providing a little perspective... some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective. Now... can you suggest a good wine to go with that?