To make up for the cancelled exhibition “Monaco and the Automobile, from 1893 to the present day”, the Grimaldi Forum has made its anecdote-filled catalogue available for purchase.

This summer was supposed to mark the inauguration of the Grimaldi Forum’s newest exhibition. The theme? Monaco’s long-lived love affair with cars. Unfortunately, the coronavirus epidemic had other plans. To console disappointed visitors and share with them the culmination of “three years of original archival research on exclusive cars,” the Grimaldi Forum now made its exhibition catalogue available for purchase.

Monaco’s long history of car racing

Before the Formula 1 Grand Prix, there was the famous Monte-Carlo Rally. Inaugurated in 1911, the race was cancelled only 4 times in its history: twice due to the World Wars and twice due to fuel rationing. For many years, the race had the peculiarity of starting off in cities all throughout Europe. Teams would then meet at a common meeting point, before racing until Monaco on a shared leg.

And of course, lest we forget the Formula 1 Grand Prix. What would Monaco be without its legendary Grand Prix? Since 1929, Monaco is the only place guaranteed to welcome the race every year. For the short space of a weekend, the daily life of the Principality’s narrow streets is taken over by a parade of whirring engines cheered on by crowds. Confirming the event’s importance in the Monegasque imaginary is the religious imagery with which the exhibition catalogue describes the event : “Monaco’s Grand Prix is a station of the cross. One comes here as if on a pilgrimage”

The book also delves into other themes, such as the “Concours d’élégance de Monte-Carlo” (an annual competition of luxury vintage cars), the life of the local driver Louis Chiron, and even discusses how Monaco’s special relationship with cars has been portrayed on screen. Included in the volume is also a selection of about 50 racing cars. The Grimaldi Forum website offers a sneak peek into the exhibition catalogue (in English and French), which can be purchased on their website for 29 euros.