Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Techno Classica Essen in the self-proclaimed World Classic Car Show
. There is more than a little merit in this claim as each year the event fills not only all 12 halls of the massive Messe Essen
exhibition centre but in recent years also some of the outdoor parking lots have been pressed into service. Among the hundreds of exhibitors are major manufacturers, suppliers, clubs, classic car dealers and many small vendors of, for example, books, second hand parts and other accessories. Despite the size of the venue, space is still at a premium and many exhibitors go to great lengths to fill every inch of what has been allocated to them. As a result some of the halls look more like second hand car lots than a show floor. In a quest to track down the highlights in what was literally a sea of cars, our photographers traversed the 12 halls on what was once the press preview afternoon but has now been renamed the happy view day
. The result is this 200-shot gallery
and brief report.
Major manufacturers generally have two reasons to display their cars in Essen; to celebrate an anniversary or to place a newly launched car into historical perspective. Fitting in the latter category was the Volkswagen display, which was filled with all seven generations of the Golf GTI. The most recent of these was launched a month earlier at the Geneva Motor Show. Also having made its debut in Switzerland was Opel's Cascada. The four-seater convertible was joined on the Opel stand in Essen by an interesting array of open Opels, dating back to the Motorwagen 10/18 PS from 1908. The new DS3 Cabriolet also inspired Citroen to showcase some of their drop-tops from past, including the very rare SM Cabriolet and the valuable DS Cabriolet. Around the corner, sister-company Peugeot marked the introduction of the new 208 GTi with a display that included the original 205 GTI and also one of the mid-engined 205 T16 Group B rally cars. A sister car, with period competition history, was actually offered for sale in one of the other halls.
Between the classic car dealers, there always is a subtle of those who want to show, and presumably sell, as many cars as possible and those who want to properly show off their cars, like Lukas Huni. The Swiss dealer always manages to pull some genuine rabbits out of his hat, and this year that was the Goliath GP700 Sport. Built by a Borgward subsidiary between 1951 and 1953, this two-door coupe features a transverse mounted engine and front-wheel drive. As he did at Retromobile, Huni brought several examples of his own Citroen DS/ID collection finished in very bright pastel colours. Also known for unearthing very rare machinery is the French La Galerie des Damiers
, who this year showed a very original Bizzarrini Europa 1900 GT and an elegant, one-off Glas 3000 GT with a fastback coupe by Frua. Also on hand was Canadian auctioneer RM Auctions, who offered a preview of their upcoming Villa Erba sale. Among the highlights are a Ferrari 340/375 MM Pinin Farina Coupe, a Ferrari 400 Superamerica and the very first MG K3 Magnette.
Among the manufacturers marking an anniversary was Audi, who celebrated 80 years of the V8. Their display featured two early Horchs and four examples of the 'V8' model introduced in the late 1980s. Among them was the 1990 DTM winning racing car and a rare stretched limousine. Taking centre stage, however, was the R8 used in the Race of a Thousand Years in 2000, which features a very colourful livery inspired by the exotic wildlife in Australia. Across the isle, Porsche marked fifty years of the 911 with a display of three distinctly different road-going models, including an early example and the very latest 991-generation Carrera S. Mercedes-Benz highlighted a century of luxury cars with a massive display, which included an early Simplex, a 1930s 'Grosser' and the most recent S-Class. Hidden away in a separate booth was the Benz 'Prinz Heinrich' racing car, which was completely restored over the last few years together with a sister car owned by the Louwman Museum. The head of the restoration department explained that when Mercedes-Benz Classic acquired the car some 15 years ago, they had no idea that it was actually a racing car. It was only when they later looked up the numbers in the archive that they discovered it was one of only ten cars of this type built.
It does take some effort, more so this year with the large crowd already on the show floor, but we once again managed to find the gems in the sea of cars that is the Techno Classica Essen. We are, of course, spoiled and for the casual visitors, the show offered a broad variety of interesting machinery. All this, and much more, can be found in our 200-shot gallery