“Your car is more” was the theme of this year’s edition of the annual Essen Motor Show. Walking through the many halls we found that there is “more for your car” than you could ever imagine. With eighteen halls and over 500 exhibitors it is one of the world’s largest shows. Performance on and off the track is the main interest of the ten day extravaganza. Focus is on aftermarket parts and cars, although there were some major manufacturers with complete stands as well. Not only were there new cars on display, but classic fans were treated to a selection of fine historic road and racing cars.
Too much Red Bull?
According to the popular commercials the energy drink “gives you wings,” which is exactly what seemed to have happened to many cars on display. First seen on the exotic Lamborghinis, the scissor door is now a popular tuning trend. Recently conversion kits came available for some do-it-yourself cosmetic surgery. In Essen vehicles ranging from a Hummer to a Lamborghini Gallardo were present with the wing-doors. Mitsubishi and Suzuki even showed winged-versions of their latest Colt and Swift superminis, executed by aftermarket specialists, not by the Japanese manufacturers themselves. Time will prove if this trend will become popular with car owners as well; we have yet to see one on the road.
More is better!
German manufacturers have unleashed a horsepower war in the last couple of years, adding more and more punch to their performance models. In their trail the big tuning companies have picked things up as well; 600 or 700 bhp is readily available. Danish tuner Kleemann offers a supercharger package for Mercedes Benz 5 litre V8 model that bumps the power to 595 bhp. In Essen they took the wraps off the all-new ML class equipped with the same engine. Brabus went one step further with a super-high performance version of the new S-Class. Power comes from the same engine that is installed in the recently launched CLS Rocket, which produces a decent 730 bhp and a stunning 1320 Nm of torque. For longevity reasons it is electronically limited to a mere 1100 Nm. Across the isle their Smart department had a customized Forfour on display complete with a 210 bhp turbocharged engine.
Although many of the novelties were spread out over the halls on display on supplier’s stands, Techart was creating some hype with a corner of their own. Most of their Porsche-based vehicles were subtly modified both aesthetically and mechanically, except for their all new Boxster S based ‘Widebody’ model. As the name suggests some extra panels were added to give the agile mid-engined roadster a bolder stance. Hidden away on the Pirelli stand was RUF’s latest offering; painted bright green, this R Kompressor combines Porsche’s flat six engine with a supercharger. As is common with RUF’s line-up, modifications were carried through on all vital parts of the car including the brakes and suspension.
Many of the smaller tuning companies focused more on aesthetics and less on performance, not always with eye-pleasing results.
The big boys
In the first three halls of the big Messe complex a number of major manufacturers set up shop to showcase their high performance and racing models. In hall three Opel and Volkswagen each unveiled a new model; the Meriva OPC and the Cross Polo respectively. Bigger news on the Volkswagen stand was the Paris-Dakar Race Touareg, which is set to take on Mitsubishi again in January. On the Ford stand the recently introduced Focus ST was prominently displayed in a variety of attractive paint jobs.
With official production having just started a week earlier the Gumpert Apollo on display grabbed a lot of people's attention. Great performance and a unique design is what sets this latest German manufacturer apart.
In the same hall, two of the fastest road cars around the treacherous Nurburgring Nordschleife were shown. At the time of writing the Donkervoort D8 RS had the better of the EDO 911 GT by less than a second.
Hall two was however dominated by the Japanese manufacturers who completely focused on their racing efforts. Toyota had a turbocharged version of the MR2 on offer; 44 bhp over the stock version. The French were assembled in force in the first hall, celebrating Citroen’s WRC titles and Renaults F1 titles.
In hall six, historic car brokers were let loose to showcase their current inventory. In the center of the hall was a large display celebrating 75 years of Pininfarina. A selection of their road cars and prototypes were shown, ranging from the recent Enzo to the highly aerodynamic X concept of the 1960s. The highlight was the remarkable Ferrari Pinin, which to this day is the only four-door Ferrari ever constructed. This unique car is part of Jacques Swaters' impressive Ecurie Francorchamps collection and is rarely seen outside his museum.
In the same hall the latest GT40 replica from Superformance was introduced to Europe. It is a nearly-perfect copy of the Le Mans winning Mk II version of Ford’s successful racer; most other kits or replicas are based on the more common Mk I.
The Essen Motorshow offers a plethora of vehicles ranging from pristine historic cars to heavily ‘butchered’ Porsches. This offers something for all car enthusiasts, although some of the ‘tuned’ vehicles might be hard to stomach for the purists. Of all third party suppliers, the tire manufacturers were surely the most prominent with large stands filled with road and racing cars. The show was highlighted by Techart and Brabus, who managed to keep the exterior modifications subtle, instead focusing on performance and luxury. All highlights and some of the butchering is captured in a 150-shot slideshow
in high resolution and full colour.