Those wanting to display a vehicle at the world’s first international motor show, the Automobile Club de France’s Exposition Internationale d’Automobile of 1898, held on the terrace of the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, first had to drive the car from Paris to Versailles and back in the presence of an ACF official. To “avoid the presentation of automobiles which would only carry the name, and not the qualities”.
It’s hard to imagine that, last week, as the world’s oldest motor show hit its 120th anniversary, organisers of what is today called the Mondial de l’Auto would have made anything like the same demands of exhibitors. Or any demands at all. Please, just come. The door’s open.
The show’s problem isn’t declining visitor numbers. At least, not yet, though it’ll be interesting to see how many came this year. But in 2016, organisers say a million visitors walked through the show’s doors, making the biennial exhibition the most visited motor show in the world.
There is, though, an issue with no-shows from manufacturers. That Ford, Opel, FCA, Volkswagen and others didn’t think there was enough in it to turn up to Paris suggests big motor shows are in a downward trajectory. The Detroit motor show, once a show so important that correspondents and executives would see in the new year while travelling to it, has had to move to June in 2020 in search of a new impetus.