Spread over a dozen halls, the Techno Classica is easily the largest in-door classic car show in the world. Each year the 'Messe Essen' is filled to the brim with exhibitors ranging from major manufacturers to specialists in blinkers and doorknobs. The 23rd edition of the annual event featured a variety of celebrations including '125 year of the automobile' at Mercedes-Benz, 75 years of the BMW 328 and Opel looked ahead the company's 150th anniversary in 2012. Surrounding the very impressive manufacturer stands were a plethora of smaller stands where every need of the automobile enthusiast was addressed. Hundreds of clubs and traders also brought out some of their finest cars. British auctioneer Coys filled a sizeable chunk of one of the halls for their sale. Highlights included the Iso Breadvan and a competition DeTomaso Pantera with period racing history.
Our photographers traversed the vast Messe Essen exhibition centre on the opening day and have compiled a 150-shot gallery
filled with the best, the worst and the weirdest this year's Techno Classica had to offer.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Techno Classica attracts a far broader range of manufacturers than the annual Essen Motor Show held in the same venue later in the year. The likes of Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen Group and BMW all had vast displays where numerous cars were displayed. These not only came from the collection of these companies but many were also supplied by enthusiast clubs. The Mercedes-Benz display consisted of two circles with the German manufacturer's own cars in the middle, surrounded by a line-up of privately owned machines. At BMW our eye was grabbed by an ex-Le Mans M1 Group 4 with a very creative livery. The Volkswagen stand celebrated the recent acquisition of Giugiaro-Italdesign by displaying the Aztec, Aspid and Asgard show cars from 1988. All three of these futuristic machines feature dual controls. Opel also had an impressive line-up of rarely seen cars and bikes. The most interesting were the rocket powered vehicles used for record runs by Fritz von Opel in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Further highlights on other manufacturer stands included a Ferrari 250 GTO, the Alfa Romeo 164 ProCar and the prototype of the Volvo P1800 that was launched fifty years ago.
Other cars of note
It took some effort but we did not manage to find some additional gems on the stands of the dealers and clubs. Swiss broker Lukas Huni brought many of the same cars also shown at Retromobile earlier in the year but this time also included a lovely Cobra and Jaguar engined Lister in Camoradi colours. Aston Martin specialists 'Aston Workshop' displayed a Vignale bodied DB2/4 that was halfway through a complete restoration. The unique car was originally owned by the then King of Belgium. A real oddity, which we had not seen before, was a Zagato bodied Bristol 412. Amazingly around 30 examples were produced and presumably sold in the late 1970s. A Swiss restorer had two Frua bodied Maserati A6s on his stand; one was fully restored while the other was only partly completed. A wide variety of competition Porsches were also displayed, including one of the ferocious 935 K3s and the Daytona 24 Hour class winning 993 GT2 prepared by Roock. Further of note were a Citroen SM with sliding roof panels, the aerodynamic Fiat 1100 'Padovan' and the outlandish Flajole Forerunner.
The Techno Classica really is all about the numbers; we stopped the count after we saw the 20th Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. For the enthusiast hoping to see something special around every corner, Retromobile is a much better show but for the enthusiast hoping to see everything, the Techno Classica is second to none.