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2009 Techno Classica
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Click here to open the slideshowThe Techno Classica has come of age, by celebrating its 21st edition during the first weekend of April. The Techno Classica has the reputation of being the largest of its kind, and this year the sheer amount of cars on show, both in- and outside the exhibition halls, could keep you busy the whole day. Reportedly over 2500 cars were displayed (most of them for sale) and traditionally the German brands were very well represented. In just four (and a half) days 165,800 visitors came through the doors of the Messe Essen. An amazing 50% of the cars available were sold before the weekend was over.

The Manufacturer were celebrating
Heritage pride is of increasing importance in today’s world of windtunnel dictated designs mass products, and the German brands are fully aware of this. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VAG showed an impressive selection taken from their museums, while also Opel and Ford showed some of their earlier cars. Those may not be classics in the money terms, but many people love to see the cars that they grew up with, and which have now virtually disappeared from the roads. Porsche did not really have its own stand, but this was more than compensated by the impressive amount of all sorts of vintage Porsches presented by clubs and dealers. The factory stands also presented examples of privately owned, restored, cars and representatives of brand and even type-clubs.

75 years of the Silver ArrowMercedes-Benz celebrated the 75th anniversary of the 'Silver Arrow' with a display of all their major Grand Prix cars and two of the more recent and also highly successful Mercedes engined McLarens. Of course there were also other impressive vehicles, many of which propelled by the 6.3 V8 that was first introduced in the 600, but got its real fame in the ultimate Q-car, the 300 SEL 6.3.

BMW surprised us with the elusive 700 RS, of which according to BMW only one example was ever completed. It was the highlight of the BMW 700's half a centenary celebrations. A very rare privately owned Glas 1700 with a hydraulically operated automatic gearbox ( comparable to a current F1 system) was also shown, together with a perfectly restored 2600L, one as the last incarnations of the famous Baroque Angel model.

Audi R10 TDIThe Volkswagen Audi Group filled a complete hall with familiar machines and some nice oddities as well like a Ghia Aigle bodied Beetle from 1956. Audi celebrated their 100th birthday with some of their finest road, racing and concept cars. Highlights included the 225 Front from 1935, the 2006 Le Mans winning Audi R10 TDI and the mid-engined Audi Quattro concept car. Skoda’s heritage was honoured by a number of Felicias and Octavias from the fities. In a more secluded section of the hall there was a line-up of a classic car from each of the Group's members ranging from a Lamborghini Miura to a very early Bugatti Type 15.

Ford showed the Probe II concept, of which the shape was taken over by the controversial Sierra. The Capri celebrates its 40th birthday this year, and several top models were shown, including the Zakspeed-Wurth turbo version.

There were quite a few interesting Porsches around, but the one that stood out for us was a perfectly restored example of the 911R, Porsche's real attempt to produce a light-weight rallye version of the 911S. With 820 kg and 220 bhp, they were quite successful, and the Larrousse entered example for the Tour de France in 1969, was rumoured to weigh in only 790 kg.

Ferrari decided to highlight their 'Classiche' program, which gives owners of classic Ferraris to have them certified by the factory. To underline that every Ferrari is potentially eligible, the manufacturer's display included a 250 GT Europa from 1954 as well as a modern 575M SuperAmerica. Taking center stage however was the legendary 250 GT SWB that was first introduced fifty years ago.

Dealer displays
Fiskens DisplayThe largest part of the show is covered by dealer stands, and contrary to the factory displays, dealers have tendency to put as many cars as possible on a limited plot. Notable exceptions were top dealers like Lukas Huni and Gregor Fisken, but in general the cramped stands restrict the photographic possibilities.

Also the level of information supplied with each car on offer differs greatly. While some, such as Axel Schuette and E. Thiessen, present a full sheet of relevant information, many just give a brief description, without going in much detail. The organizers provide a standardised plaquette that can be filled out, but that only gives space for what is normally included in a classified ad.

Some of the cars with the dealers were also shown at Retromobile, like the two Saoutchik bodied Mercedes S-type, shown by Huni, but additionally he brought a delightful Ferrari 365 GTS, one of only 20 produced. He also showed a BMW 328, formerly owned by the King of Romania. Gregor Fisken had the Ford GT40 (Chassis 1077), which was sold new in 1968 to the Yamaha Motor Company, and has resurfaced after a very long stay in Japan. French dealer Porez showed a fully original Panhard X73 Cabriolet, in need of a ground up restoration, but a rare car indeed.

Ferrari 365 GTSThere were of course many more interesting cars scattered all over the place, such as a Lancia Delta S4 Stradale, a Peugeot 601 Decapotable, the rarest of the Ferrari Dinos, the 206 GT but for this we refer to our 110-shot slideshow.

The sheer size of the Techno Classica makes it almost impossible to see and admire all cars on show. It really is a compromise between trying to show cars and trying to sell cars. For us, who are not in the buyers market, the preference goes to the first aspect, but for the organizers, the second aspect might be more important. It does result in a very large amount of interesting cars, but once you have seen ten Gullwings, you may get bored by seeing another ten in the next hall. Nevertheless, with all the other stands relating parts, books and models, it is not difficult to spend a whole day in the vast premises. The fact that the Techno Classica only lasts for four days is actually quite remarkable, especially considering that the similar, but much smaller, Retromobile show in Paris lasts a full ten days.

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Report by Pieter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com.