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2009 Essen Motor Show
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Established in 1968, the annual Essen Motor Show had a strong focus on contemporary racing. Over the years the attention has gradually switched to aftermarket and tuning accessories. Especially during even years (when there is no IAA in Frankfurt), there was still a strong manufacturer presence, using 'Essen' to showcase their new wares to the German enthusiasts for the first time. Last year the difficult economic times could already be felt on the slightly emptier show floor but this year the biggest hall of the 'Messe Essen' was unused. It was exactly there that the big manufacturer used to have their stands. The likes of Ford, Opel, Audi and Porsche were all missing and of the mainstream companies only Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Skoda had small stands but with no new offerings. Like last year, the Essen Motor Show did pay tribute to their roots by laying out a small track where current racing cars were displayed.

This year's Essen Motor Show featured two prominent displays; one one dedicated to Ferraris and the other with Lotus racing cars. Providing a stark contrast with the 'accessorised' cars around it was the Series 3 410 Superamerica that was the start of the Ferrari display. Hopefully its style and elegance can serve as some inspiration for the current generation of designers. Other enduring masterpieces present were a 250 GT SWB, 166 Inter and a F40. The Lotus display was hosted by Techno Classica organisers SIHA. 'The Racing Legends' stand sported prime examples of the marque's rich career, provided by Classic Team Lotus as well as many private collectors. Legendary Formula 1 cars were displayed on each of the four corners, including the World Championship winning 49, 72 and 79.

In one of the corridors that connect the many separate halls, an evocative selection of concept and show cars was displayed. Our attention was immediately grabbed by the Veritas RS III. Although concept versions of this car have been floating about since very early in the decade, it seems a production version has finally been signed off under new ownership. The radical machine harks back at the Veritas racing cars of old and is powered by a BMW M5 sourced V10 engine. Production is limited to just 30 examples and the first one is expected to be delivered in January. Among the further highlights of the concept car display were several of Franco Sbarro's unique creations, Italdesign's Frazer Nash Namir and the Citroen C-Metisse.

The only real news of the show was provided by the specialist tuning companies. The most prominent of these, by quite a distance, was Brabus. On one of the biggest displays of the show, they displayed many of their Mercedes-Benz derived models. The latest addition to the line-up was the E63 AMG based B63 S, which uses a 555 bhp version of the exquisite AMG V8 engine. Most of the attention was nevertheless grabbed by the EV12 'One of Ten'. Like its name suggests, only ten will be built of this 788 bhp monster. Thanks to the massive twin-turbocharged engine and aerodynamic rear-wheel covers it has a potential top speed of well over 370 km/h. Displayed on a stand of one of their suppliers was the all-new 9ff Speed9. Based on the current Porsche 997 Turbo, it is an homage to the Speedster models of the 1950s.

Essen is certainly no exception; all major auto shows are struggling to sell their floor space in these difficult times. Many manufacturers try to cut their expenses wherever they can and skipping these shows provides an easy saving. Whether that helps the companies in the long run remains to be seen. The big shows have the difficult task to provide visitors with enough interesting exhibitors to warrant a visit. Essen managed to do that this year, but barely, by including the Ferrari, Lotus and concept car displays. We stopped by on the opening day and have captured the new, the interesting and the outlandish in our exclusive 100-shot gallery.

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