Featured: GALLERY: The Palatial Beauty Of The Tour Auto Optic 2000

GALLERY: The Palatial Beauty Of The Tour Auto Optic 2000

By Alex Sobran
May 1, 2017

Photography by Maxence Massaro

The 26th running of the Tour Auto came to conclusion yesterday after over 200 vintage sports and race cars spent a week of romping around Europe. 2017’s Tour Auto Optic 2000 is the latest iteration in a string of events that have been organized since 1992 in honor of the defunct Tour de France Automobile. While you’d need a time machine or a worrying powerful sense of memory to experience the original race and the factory-backed teams run ragged over the course of the competition, attendance at the contemporary version of the Tour will reward you with the types of cars and locales that transport you not through time, but to another world entirely. A world where the expansive volumes of Paris’s Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées are filled with cars of varied but pedigreed breed.

The cars aren’t just candy either. Over the week-long event, the once-gleaming machines are subjected to a barrage of trials in which to test the potential of the cars and the gumption of those behind their wheels. Past runnings have descended upon such places as the Nürburgring, and Spa, and this year saw the addition of two night stages to complement the race’s usual daytime running. For over 2,500 km, the participants were also treated to postcard-esque vistas from coiled mountain switchbacks to charming towns during the road stages, and to hallowed race tracks like Le Mans. This is an example of true variety.

Viewing the compiled collection of cars as they awaited the start of what is surely a paragon of modern road rallies, one is led to simple wonder and awe. Even if you’re lucky enough to count the lines of vintage cars that make up the entrant list as things you’ve seen before, it is unlikely that seeing them here and for this purpose will ever lose its ability to instill raw amazement. Maybe not at any particular piece of it, perhaps not any solitary vehicle or track or story will yield this reaction, but the challenge to resist the spectacle of the Tour Auto as a whole is one we don’t mind falling short of. Because where else can a single snatched moment include a Parisian palace full of the sights and scents and raucous noise of hundreds of history’s most beautiful and brutal cars? In celebration of the end of another running of the Tour Auto, enjoy our gallery of the event’s beautiful beginning.

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Bill Meyer
Bill Meyer
4 years ago

Lordy, I espied a pair of Renault 12 rally cars. I owned a 12 for a (thankfully) short time and sold it to a crazed Algerian ex-taxi driver in Seattle. There’s always a weird tale attached to French cars for me, but I love ’em.

4 years ago

Good to hear about classic cars being driven, instead of being burried in a private museum…