There is no event quite like the annual Essen Motor Show. Originally established as a showcase of the motorsport industry, it has gradually changed its focus to the aftermarket and tuner companies. In the quickly emerging 'drift' scene, these two worlds collide so it is no surprise that since a few years the Essen Motor Show has boasted its own indoor drift track. This year we even spotted two small tracks with radio controlled drift cars. Fortunately, the show's roots have not been lost and the event also boasts displays from motorsport manufacturers and racing series. In addition to the modern cars, there were also many classic cars on display brought by vendors and clubs. One of the absolute highlights was the stand of event organiser SIHA, who celebrated the upcoming 100th anniversary of Maserati with a showcase of the Italian manufacturer's competition cars.
The results of our venture through the vast Messe Essen exhibition centre can be found in this 160-shot gallery
The Essen Motor Show showcases the German enthusiast's desire and ability to customise their own cars. Whether these modifications are actually an improvement is probably a matter of personal taste. Among the more restrained modified cars on display were those by the 'official' tuners of which surprisingly few were present this year. Brabus was on hand and had their stand on the familiar location. It was dominated this year by the absolutely massive B63S - 700 6x6, which, as the name suggests, boasts six wheels. The desert-bound machine literally towered over the rest of the Brabus cars, which also included a trio of beautiful Mercedes-Benz SLs restored by Brabus Classic. Renowned Porsche-tuner Techart was also present with their interpretation of the brand new 911 Turbo S. A completely different form of customisation was also highlighted with an interesting display of one-off show cars created this year. Among them was the Italdesign Parcours, the Alfa Romeo Gloria and the striking 'Fleche Rouge' (Red Arrow) created by Sbarro. Based on Citroen DS3 mechanicals, the minimalistic Roadster tips the scale at just 700 kg.
It seems that the major manufacturers these days only bother with the international motor shows, which affects the Essen Motor Show particularly in years that Frankfurt hosts its biennial show. With the exception of Opel and Skoda, the manufacturers were represented mainly by their motorsport departments. The likes of Citroen and Renault showcased their range of competition cars, while Mercedes-AMG was on hand to debut the new CLA 45 AMG racing car. Also on display and a poignant reminder of the dangers of motorsport was the Nurburgring 24 Hours winning SLS AMG GT3, which was co-driven by Sean Edwards, who sadly is no longer with us. As part of a very impressive DTM display, Audi displayed the bare bones of the latest generation DTM cars, which consists of a carbon fibre monocoque with a load bearing gearbox. A new 'face' in Essen was British sports car manufacturer Radical, who showcased their entire range. Among them was the recently introduced RXC; the first 'fixed head' Radical.
100 years of Maserati
As mentioned earlier, our favourite display was created by event organiser SIHA, who got a head start on Maserati's 100th anniversary in 2014. The stand was filled a selection of around a dozen competition cars ranging from the early 1930s through to the late 1950s. Among the earliest cars was a very rare Tipo 26, which was the first eight-cylinder engined Maserati racing car. An even more unusual sight was the Tipo V4, which was reconstructed by former owner Anthony Hartley. It features a spectacularly complicated V16 constructed from two separate eight cylinder engines. The blocks are mounted on a shared crankcase at a 12.5 degree angle and the two crankshafts are connected by gears to a central power take off. Among the other Maseratis on display was a 250F that was recently re-painted in the Monaco racing colours in which was attempted to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of its contemporary career. The SIHA also showed the Maserati A6G/54 2000 Zagato Coupe that is the star of the poster for the upcoming Techno Classica. Among the most unusual classic cars on display at the dealers was a fabulous rotary engined NSU Wankel Spider.
It is safe to say that the Essen Motor Show has something on offer for all motoring enthusiasts wether they are into 'Ratrods' or thoroughbred racing cars or even enjoy seeing a Volkswagen Golf with leather instead of rubber hoses. It is more difficult to say if there is enough of each niche to make visiting the event worthwhile. For those with a general interest in cars and car culture, there certainly is no better overview than the Essen Motor Show.