Paris Auto Show

The first automobile show in the world was held in Paris in 1898 at the Tuilleries Gardens. Only a handful of the new-fangled "automobiles" were exhibited at the outdoor location. To prove the validity of this new mode of transportation, exhibitors had to drive their vehicles from Versailles to Paris. Although he opened this first Paris Motor Show, the President of France was openly skeptical about the automobile and punctuated his opinion by leaving the auto show in a horse-drawn carriage.

By 1922, a number of current automobile makers were on hand at the Paris Motor Show, actually then called the Salon de l'Auto by those fluent in French. Peugeot, Renault and CitroŽn showed off their new models, as did lesser known (and now extinct) makes such as Unio. CitroŽn, anticipating the use of cars by women, displayed the "5 CV," which was geared towards use by those of the fairer sex.

From 1939 to around 1946, the Paris auto show went on hiatus due to World War II. Finally, at the 1948 show, some genuinely new models debuted, including the iconic CitroŽn 2CV, an economy car whose design seemed inspired by a lobster. The mid-'50s saw the debut of the Peugeot 403, the first volume-produced diesel car from France, and the Austin-Healy "bug eye" Sprite.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Paris Motor Show thrilled viewers with the introductions of the Porsche 911, Plymouth Barracuda, VW Golf (Rabbit in the U.S.). In 1976 the decision was made to make the Paris auto show a biannual event, alternating with the Frankfurt show in Germany. In 1988 the Paris Motor Show changed its official name from Salon de l'Auto to Mondial de l'Automobile. Having been the first auto show ever held, the Paris auto show holds a special place in auto maker's hearts, and as a result many world debuts happen. In more recent years, many incredible cars were first shown in Paris, including Porsche's 605-horsepower Carrera GT supercar, Bentley's Continental GT and Ferrari's $670,000 Enzo.

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