Over the years the Essen Motor Show has shifted its focus, and not always voluntarily. In the early years international motor sport took centre stage and for some time the event was actually known as the 'Jochen Rindt Show' after the posthumous 1970 Formula 1 World Champion. In the subsequent 40 years the show gradually turned into the mostly tuner focused show it is today. Until very recently, and particularly during even years, the major German manufacturers all had displays, usually to reveal their upcoming competition plans and cars. Sadly their presence in 2010 was reduced to Opel and Mercedes-Benz, who showed two new cars and a collection of past sports cars to welcome the SLS AMG to the family. Some of the places left vacant, in what was once the manufacturer hall, was filled this year by the likes of Hyundai and Skoda. Most of it, however, was filled by suppliers of aftermarket parts like shock absorbers and tyres. The only worthwhile news to report on came from the serious tuners like Techart and Brabus. Fortunately the Essen Motor Show also has a hall dedicated to classic cars with a big centrepiece, celebrating Alfa Romeo this year. All this and more can be found in our exclusive 110-shot gallery
Hall 1 of the vast 'Messe Essen' was filled with classic machinery, some of which were on display only but most were for sale. In the middle was the imposing structure of 'SIHA', who also organise the annual Techno Classica show in April. Spread around the Italian styled building were a selection of cars from the Alfa Romeo Museo Storico and private collections to mark the 100th anniversary of the legendary manufacturer. For those of us that regularly visit automotive events, the museum's Alfas are very familiar but we are perhaps a little spoilt. Highlights in the centenary display were Juan Manuel Fangio's 159 'Alfetta', the 8C 2900B Le Mans and the Martini liveried 155 that was raced in the DTM and ITC series during the 1990s. Nearly as imposing as the SIHA building was the Mercedes-Benz 500K brought by the 'Technik Museum' in Speyer, Germany. It sports a lavish body by Erdmann & Rossi with fully enclosed front and rear wheels. Among the other interesting machines in this hall were two Amphicars and a steel replica of Rudolf Caracciola and his Mercedes-Benz SSKL.
Brabus is one of the most loyal exhibitors of the show and can always be found in the exact same place. This year their line-up of mostly black Mercedes-Benz based machinery featured the recently announced 'SV12 R Biturbo 800' complete with the 'iBusiness' package. This multimedia system is based on Apple components. A Mac Mini is fitted under the parcel shelf and the interior is packed with screens and docks for iPads. The system can also be controlled by an Ipod Touch. Brabus also displayed their first take on the brand new SLS AMG. For now the all-aluminium sports car is only fitted with a 'Widestar' package that includes several visual tweaks. To emphasize them, Brabus showed the car in their familiar black but also in red. More news was found in Hall 3 where tyre manufacturer Continental hosted several major tuners. Techart used the occasion for the German debut of the Porsche Panamera based 'GrandGT'. It features a complete package of visual and performance upgrades. German Volvo tuner Heico Sportiv displayed their latest models based on the recently introduced S60 and V60, while AC Schnitzer revealed their version of the new BMW 5-Series Touring.
The remaining halls were filled with an assortment of classy aftermarket bits, second hand cars, racing truck, drag bikes and hot-rods. Spread among them were the racing cars that once were the focus of the show. Included were the Chevrolet Cruze and the BMW 320si that until the weekend before fought for WTCC honours. The RML run Chevrolet of Yvan Muller eventually came out on top. Like during the last two editions, one hall was converted to an indoor 'track' where about two dozen GT and Touring cars were exercised. Another noteworthy display was of a variety of concept cars from the likes of Sbarro, Fioravanti and Fornasari.
With the ever increasing tuner focus, the Essen Motor Show is not quite up our alley but fortunately the organisers did leave just enough space for interesting machinery to make the trip worth our while. It will be interesting to see if the Motor Show can regain some of its former glory now that the automotive companies are slowly recovering from the crisis.