The 2005 edition of the "Salon de l'Auto" or Geneva Motorshow marked the 100th anniversary of the show. It was also the 75th International running of this Swiss show. All over the show floor this was celebrated by displaying some legendary historic vehicles on the manufacturer's stands.
Being held in the Palexpo exposition centre, which is next to the airport and on top of a highway, the Geneva 'salon' is probably the best accessible of all big shows, but that is not what makes it special. Many of the worlds leading small manufacturers and design houses choose Geneva to launch their newest products. These stunning vehicles often outshine the novelties from the established manufacturers.
More than ever the focus of the industry is turned to alternative fuels in the form of diesel, fuel cells or electricity. Especially the growing popularity of diesel in Europe had a big influence on the new concept and production cars. Mercedes Benz displayed three prototypes equipped with torquey oil burners, including a SL with a 4 litre diesel and a SLK with a 'triturbo' engine producing close to 100 bhp per litre. Lexus combined the launch of the new IS with the introduction of a new 2.2 litre diesel engine. On the Lancia and Zagato stands the Lancia Ypsilon design study was showcased, equipped with 150 bhp of diesel power.
Both Italdesign/Giugiaro and Bertone unveiled alternatively powered design studies. Giugiaro's monster of Lochness inspired Mitsubishi Nessie used a hybrid powerplant. Bertone's Cadillac Villa combined Italian styling with the fascinating GM drive-by-wire fuel cell chassis.
Both Koenigsegg and Spyker started the Geneva show off with some very good news. The Swedish supercar manufacturer could finally silence the ever growing group of sceptics, with a world speed record of 388 km/h set on the Nardo oval track. This now officially makes the Koenigsegg CCR, the fastest production car in the world and according to the manufacturer there is still room for more.
Spyker's stock price shot up when they announced the approval for the USA by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This will allow the Dutch company to import cars into the United States, the manufacturer's biggest market.
Pininfarina also had a good reason to celebrate; the design house's 75th anniversary. On their stand they unveiled their birthday present, the V12 engined Maserati Birdcage 75th, derived from the MC12 road car.
Together with a host of concept cars some very important production cars were unveiled in Geneva. The sedan market saw the introduction of the Giugiaro designed Alfa Romeo 159, the new BMW 3-series, the Citroen C6 and the new Lexus IS. Four years after the design study stunned the world, Alfa Romeo took the wraps off the Brera production car. It shares a platform with the 159, which means it can come as either front wheel drive or all wheel drive. Unfortunately, the V8 of the Italdesign concept is not available in the production car. Aston Martin stole the show with the striking yellow V8 Vantage, ready to take on the Porsche 911. It was the first time I have ever seen a vehicle on the Aston Martin stand in an other colour than green, black or silver; a brilliant idea!
Sixteen years after its first introduction, an automotive icon was reborn on the Mazda stand. The all new MX-5 is a bit more mature than its predecessor, but let's hope it has not lost its edge, which made it so much fun to drive. Although manufactured by new companies, two other icons were also revived. Long time Lancia Stratos aficionado Hrabalek introduced a 21st century version of this rally monster. It again features a Ferrari engine, but its design is not up to par with the original. The same applies for the new Bizzarrini GTS, which looked like a small oil tanker compared to the original Bizzarrini 5300 GT displayed next to it. Both cars are destined for production.
Many more new cars were introduced; too many to list here, but the large majority has made it into our 250-shot slideshow
Thanks to the high quality introductions the 75th annual Geneva Motorshow again lived up to its reputation. Despite the wintery conditions, the many cars on display quickly warmed up the gathered journalists, which flocked in remarkably large numbers.