The last time I visited Paris was at the end of 2005 when the city was experiencing youth riots. I have always enjoyed the city because kiosks gave me an opportunity to find good automotive reading material. In particular, I enjoy new car yearbooks and classic car periodicals, and the French had a good magazine scene. Two of the titles I picked up were “Gazoline” and “Automobilia.” The latter in particular was your basic classic car magazine, but the inside cover showed special issues on automotive retrospectives focused on one model year per issue.
Hors-Serie Automobilia was listed at the top, with the title Toutes Les Voitures Francaises and a model year. I know practically no French other than sacre bleu and Johnny Hallyday n’était pas Elvis so the cover meant little to me other than the model year but now, 17+ years later, I have Google Translate to tell me it means “Automobilia [magazine] Special-Edition” and “All French Cars.”
Of course, a few days in Paris would never give me the opportunity to order back issues and have them sent to the hotel, and having them sent to the U.S. would have been cost-prohibitive. I went home satisfied my American magazine subscription would keep me entertained.
Maybe six years later, I found four issues of Hors-Serie Automobilia on eBay from an American seller. What luck! And when I received the issues, I discovered they were as good as I had hoped. Soon after, I even managed to find an American eBayer selling a single issue, but I felt his price was quite high after spending perhaps a third for the issues I already had. I moved on and then, when I noticed it sold, I had that empty feeling of losing something within reach.
Over time, I set up an email response on eBay so that any time someone had an auction with the words “Hors-Serie Automobilia,” I would receive an email alert. However, eBay’s email response is not dependable, so the magazine hasn’t been on my radar for awhile … until recently. A chance encounter with a French guy at Burbank, California’s Autobooks-Aerobooks made me think about the magazines, so I ran a search on eBay.
Could it be true? Are there copies from an American seller? And there are a ton of them! I quickly emailed the seller and asked if he/she could sell them all as one lot, which would make things cheaper for both parties. The planets aligned for me and I scored 25 issues, though included were the four issues I already had. No bother — why make a fuss?
So now I have most of the collection, and with continued patience I will fill the holes. A quick scan on France’s eBay page shows it ain’t gonna happen soon based on the exchange rate and shipping, but that cost is nothing compared to the joy of finding something I’ve thought about off and on since 2005.