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Classic cars play a starring role at the 2016 Paris Motor Show

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A Peugeot 403 convertible, similar to the one driven by TV detective Frank Columbo (which was a faded gray). Photos by Nick Kurczewski.

[Editor’s note: This piece comes to us from freelance contributor Nick Kurczewski.]

What does a Columbo-style battered Peugeot 403 convertible and an electric-powered Renault concept car have in common? The 2016 Paris Motor Show, of course!

Open to the public from October 1-16, Paris drops the green flag on an auto show season that stretches to the next New York Auto Show, held in April, 2017.

Renault Alpine

Renault Alpine, out of production since the mid-1990s.

This year, a recurring theme in Paris is the future of the automobile, where seemingly every major automaker features some form of self-driving car, autonomous drive system, or electric powertrain on their stand.

Citroen 2CV

In case one wonders where the bullet holes in this Renault 2CV came from.

Paris proves there’s no lack of creativity when it comes to designing and engineering what we’ll be piloting in the years to come – even if cars do all the driving. But this is Paris, ladies and gentlemen, a city so awash in history and romance, it’s impossible not to cast a backward glance at classic cars that have come to define our passion for the automobile.

Citroen Mehari

A Citroën Mehari. Though not identified with a particular film, the model has played a role in many.

So what better way to celebrate than by bringing the world of cars and cinema together, all in one exhibition space? Positioned amongst halls full of glimmering production cars, Paris features an entire exhibit devoted to vintage cars from film and TV. If you’re a sucker for Citroën and go gaga for Gordinis, this is the place to be.

De Lorean

It isn’t hard to guess which film this De Lorean time machine replica honors.

That, and the fact that champagne was being served at noon-time in the media center – hey, it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it!

The exhibit, located in Hall 8, has a definite hometown tilt towards French movies, as you can imagine. And while descriptions of the vehicles on display happen to be entirely in French, it doesn’t take a mastery of the language to choose favorites amongst the collection.

Renault 8 Gordini

Renault 8 Gordini.

Broken down into colorful categories, such as “Secret Agents and Detectives,” a gloriously boxy and very blue Renault 8 Gordini, from the 1966 film Nous Ne Fâchons Pas (We Do Not Get Angry), immediately grabs our attention.  The car’s exterior is squarer than a shoebox, though fans of French cars know this upright sedan wears its twin racing stripes with pride.

Alfa Romeo Spider

An Alfa Romeo Spider – in tribute to The Graduate, perhaps?

Rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive, the Gordini features a tuned 1.1-liter 4-cylinder engine with approximately 90-horsepower. That was enough to hustle this Renault to a top speed that crested the magic 100 mph mark. Yes, we wanted to take it home. No, it’s not small enough to fit into an overhead compartment.

Citroen SM

1969 Citroën SM coupe.

Citroën lent out several more vehicles from its vast collection, such as a 1982 Mehari and 1969 SM coupe – possibly the most decadent mix of French and Italian engineering ever created.  If you prefer your classics riddled with bullets, there was a bright-yellow 1980 2CV, used in the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only,” to keep you satisfied.

Citroen DS

The winged Citroën DS 19, from the 1965 film Fantomas Against The Interpol.

In this spirit of cars and aviation, a 1964 Citroën DS 19 doubling as an airplane certainly counts as one of the show’s most eye-catching concoctions. Another member of Citroen’s official collection of classic models and former show-cars, this DS 19 dates to the 1965 French film “Fantômas Se Déchaine.” Needless to say, this bizarre device is inspiring us to find this film stateside.

Who knew a DS would look so elegant as an airplane?