A last look back into the archive takes us into the late Nineties.
Peugeot’s 406 Toscana concept (above) swiftly faded into oblivion after the show, likely because it was not clear even to Peugeot itself what it was supposed to be or demonstrate.
The Opel Calibra 4×4 based Bertone Slalom “fits in between the modern coupé, the station wagon and the people-carrier” according to Bertone’s press kit. If nothing else, it took the concept of stretched headlights to a new level.
Citroën had brought three Berlingo concept cars to Paris: the very rotund Bulle (a five door hatchback), the pickup-like Coupé de Plage and the Grand Large. Only the last would lead to a production vehicle- the Berlingo Multispace.
The svelte Alfa Romeo Nuvola, named in honour of racing legend Tazio Nuvolari, sadly never went past the concept stage. It had an early application of LED lighting technology with its tail-lights. The iridescent blue colour (nuvola blue) would become available on the 147, 156 and 166 as an option.
The face of the W220 S Class was previewed with the F200 Imagination concept, which was controlled by so-called side sticks that could be moved from driver to front passenger. The electro-transparent glass roof would make an appearance later in the ill-fated Maybach series.
Mini’s Sprititual (two-door) and Spiritual Too (four-door) concepts had a very different mechanical layout compared to the original Mini for which they were proposed conceptual replacements. The engine – an 800cc three cylinder – was rear mounted and both Spirituals were rear wheel drive. As BMW would take the Mini brand into a different direction soon after we will never know if these Spirituals would have been a success.
Inspired in part by the 1940 dual-cowl Newport Parade car, the Chrysler Phaeton concept certainly made an impression with its 132 inch wheelbase and 22 inch wheels. Power came from a 5.4 Litre V12.
Almost twenty years before the Stelvio would see the light of day, Bertone presented an Alfa Romeo SUV concept with the SportUt. It was based on the 145 platform, so markedly more compact than the current offering.
With its 1600cc twin-turbo V8 developing 250 Bhp and no doubt very light weight, the Suzuki C2 concept would most probably have been a highly entertaining drive; unfortunately it was never heard from again after the show closed its doors. Ditto for the Subaru Elten which was a cute retro reincarnation of the old 360. Considering how successful Fiat would be ten years later with its new 500 perhaps Subaru missed a chance here.
The amount of girls posing with the cars (whether you liked it or not) was simply staggering – here is a new group apparently receiving their marching orders. Japan is of course also the land of the endearing and often clever Kei-cars. The Daihatsu Midget has always been one of my favourites….
Plenty of hoopla, complete with a real-life Spirit of Ecstasy, surrounded the launch of the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. I appreciate the car more now than I did at the time; a sign of maturing taste perhaps?
This MGF Supersports -codenamed EX254- was a track day special version of the MGF with more power and a race specification suspension developed from the MGF Cup UK race series.
Ferdinand Piëch himself was present in Paris to demonstrate that the amazing 6300cc W18 engine of the EB118 concept was not just a show prop. A sound difficult to put in words- very present and deep, yet civilized.
Giorgetto Giugiaro was contracted to style the first VW-owned Bugatti; the classic horseshoe-shaped grille and the centre crease on roof and bootlid referred to classic Bugattis. Apparently the EB118 was entirely production ready but it was decided to change course towards a more supercar-oriented direction in future.
Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder but I could not find myself agreeing with that year’s Bertone Alfa Romeo concept, even if it was named Bella, revolving on its stand turntable.
The world would still have to wait quite some time before the long awaited new large Citroën eventually arrived in the showrooms. Nevertheless, the C6 Lignage concept showed enough promise to satisfy the appetite of those in waiting.
Herr Piëch was again to be seen and heard, now introducing the Concept D -more or less a five-door hatchback Phaeton prototype styled under the direction of Hartmut Warkuss – complete with a classical orchestra playing live music especially composed for the occasion. The engine was a V10 TDI Diesel, powering all four wheels through a 4Motion transmission with a six speed Tiptronic gearbox.
There were faint echoes of the Concept D’s rear end styling to be recognised in the later Bugatti 16C Galibier Concept.
Here ends the tour. I do have more photos, but twenty years seems like a fitting minimal timespan to justify the term nostalgia, and with at least a semblance of normal life beginning to reappear at our (local) horizons, it might also be a good time to resume normal service in other respects.