...Continued from page 1

A vendor? An exhibitor? Number 39; a stand-number, or what? When I got there I glanced at the exhibition's plan and cruised around all the stands with the number '39.' Nada total.

I was feeling not too well - some bug! - and was about to give up, but I decided to give the plan another look; for the name 'Grohe.'

Bingo! Stand 'C49.' All the way back, beyond the centre of the hall. On the stand, one of the other 'oldest cars,' a huge, gleaming, Maserati Quattroporte and a really beat and tired-looking red and yellow Alfa Zagato.

A German fellow - the 'mechanic' - on the stand told me the Zagato was number '39.' "Number 39 out of 120," he said. He showed me the interior and the tired-looking scene under the hood. He pointed out the dent in the roof and the dinged rear fender. He didn't say, "Never raced, never rallyed."

"Yes," he said, "The car had been discovered in a barn." Under a pile of hay? "Not exactly, but near enough."

I told Christoph Grohe about Enrico's email. He took this in without raising any eyebrows - it happens every day, anybody is a potential customer - and dug out a fact sheet about the Zagato.

With my mission more of less accomplished, I asked the German 'mechanic' to show me the Quattroporte. At one time, these were the world's fastest 'family' sedans - and in the case of this car, the 'family' was Spain's royal one.

The Maserati is a number 'two,' which for Maserati means number 'one' - of the second series of Quattroportes. A prototype, only one or two others like it were built. After Juan Carlos used it a bit, it went down to somebody else's garage in Marbella.

Not 'banker's hot rod,' but 'king's hot rod!'

Frua body, 40 cms extra long, made in 1973. Motor: V8 with 4700 ccm and 290 bhp@5500 rpm. Speed: 240 kph. Asking price: 380,000 francs. Dark metallic blue with '70's chrome trim. Interior: yellow leather. Spotless. Mint. Mileage unknown. Neverphoto: maserati quattroporte raced, never rallyed; unless Juan Carlos was a fast driver - which he was reported to be when younger.

The Maserati Quattroporte; more than 25 years old but cheaper than a tiny flat in Paris.

This is a very big jewel and makes new - and vastly more expensive - Mercs and BMWs look very boring. On top of it, the car is cheap - when you consider that it costs about the same as a 20 square-metre 'studette' in Paris.

And parking it in Paris would be no problem. With this kind of car you don't park it, you drive it. But Enrico still prefers the Zagato even if it is number '39.' With 3000 ccms less, it could top 200 kph.

Café Metropole Club's 19th Session

The 19th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' came off with its usual panache last Thursday.

Two new members from the state of Georgia signed up. Read all about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.08 - 22. February 1999 - The Café Metropole column was headlined: - 'Your Paris Magazine Turns Three.' 'Au Bistro' had 'Head-Count in France.' This issue had one feature, entitled 'A Good Day In a Good Way - Around Paris.' For Metropole's third or fourth birthday, the issue re-ran features from the same date in 1996, 1997 and 1998. This issue's 'Paris' Scene' had 'Latino Takes Over.' photo: green, red man There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Want Wine, Pizza?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.08 - 23. February 1998 - The Café Metropole column announced 'Fake Spring Surprises Paris Again.' The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Papon Was In the Resistance Too.' This issue had three features, entitled 'High and Wide in Trocadéro,' 'Looking for Elusive Facts in the Marais' and ''The Gare Saint-Lazare' On View At Orsay.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Fast Watch or Slow Time?'

The Metropole Paris Countdown to 31. December 2000:

Even though readers are not asking for any countdown to the probable beginning of the next century and even more importantly, to the next millennium, this silly countdown continues mindlessly with the eighth issue of 2000 because once something silly like this is started it's nearly impossible to stop.

This new countdown will last only 366 days, minus the 51 days already gone. The official reason for doing this is to give the Tour Eiffel a new chance to 'get it right' - because so many count-down fans missed shouting 'Zéro' on Friday, 31. December 1999. The 'unofficial' reason will be revealed in due time.

There are about 315 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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