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2014 Techno Classica
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Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Techno Classica is firmly established as the largest classic car show in the world, attracting around 1,250 exhibitors this year, including dozens of classic car dealers (with over 2,500 cars on offer), 200 clubs and 27 major manufacturers. Also present in large numbers are automobile related vendors ranging from spare parts suppliers to book sellers and also insurance companies. Together they filled all 20 halls of the vast Messe Essen exhibition centre. Among the many themes and anniversaries celebrations included 120 years of Mercedes-Benz motorsport, 100 years of Maserati, 95 years of Zagato and Paddy Hopkirk's 1964 Rally Monte Carlo victory with a Mini Cooper S. Additionally, an auction was held by Coys during the show as well.
Our photographers spent the better part of what is known as the 'Happy View Day' exploring the Messe Essen to capture the very best of the 2014 Techno Classica with this 220-shot gallery as the end result.

120 Years of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Certainly the single most impressive display was provided by Mercedes-Benz, who celebrated 120 years of motorsport. The German manufacturer won the very first race, held between Paris and Rouen in 1894, and although none of the winning cars from 1894 has survived, a sparkling collection of no fewer than 36 successful competition cars were on show. To house all of them 13 Grand Prix cars were stacked in open containers, while the rest were displayed on two levels. Among the most interesting cars on display was the 4.5 Litre Grand Prix Mercedes on loan from noted collector George Wingard. This is the very car that was driven to victory in the 1914 French Grand Prix by Christian Lautenschlager, who finished ahead of two team-mates. From the company's more recent efforts come the World Championship winning McLaren Grand Prix cars and the Sauber Mercedes C9 that won Le Mans and the World Championship in 1989. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz Classic also brought four cars from their collection that are currently for sale, including a CLK GTR and CLK LM.

Other manufacturers
In addition to Mercedes-Benz, there were over two dozen other major manufacturers, often supported by their respective clubs, that used this opportunity to show their finest classic and modern cars. These companies have really embraced the classic car movement as they have discovered it can also be very lucrative. The likes of Jaguar and Porsche have started offering spare and replacement parts themselves and the latter now also stocks oil specifically developed for early 356s and 911s. This is not a completely new phenomenon as several years ago, BMW Classic showed the depth of their parts bin by building a brand new 2002 tii almost entirely from spares. Another aspect taken on by manufacturers is certifying classic models, and the most recent to do so is Bugatti, who will now certify Veyrons. To mark the occasion, the super car manufacturer brought out the very first Veyron concept car, which was shown in Tokyo back in 1999 and was still powered by an 18-cylinder engine. Sister company Audi marked, among other things, 15 years of endurance racing by lining up one the first R8Rs, which debuted at Sebring in 1999, next to the R18 e-tron quattro driven to victory in the most recent 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Further highlights
Although at time it did take some digging but each of the 20 halls housed at least a few very interesting cars. We were particularly taken by the diminutive Bizzarrini 1900 GT Europa brought by German specialists Klima Lounge. Sadly only very few of these pocket rockets were ever built and they are a very rare sight today. Also not to be missed was the display of Techno Classica organisers SIHA, which celebrated 95 years of Zagato. It was particularly interesting to see all three TZ (Tubolare Zagato) Alfa Romeos lined up together. Another star car was a freshly restored Porsche 917 K brought by Jan Luehn, who told us he expects the car's new owner to exercise in historic events shortly. The Volvo club celebrated the marque's competition heritage by bringing together classic rally cars but also more recent touring cars including the DTM winning 240 Turbo and the highly unusual 850 Estate that competed in the BTCC. Originally slated as one the event's main themes, Maserati's 100th anniversary was only celebrated by a handful of cars, headlined by the unique Drogo bodied Tipo 61 Birdcage.

Final thoughts
There is no denying the sheer size of the Techno Classica but our gripe with the event was that quantity far outweighed the quality. Fortunately the balance has shifted, especially thanks to the increased effort of the manufacturers. Don't get me wrong, it is still more than a stiff walk to explore all 20 halls but at least, the lengthy path is line with a fair share of interesting machines and related displays. The best of these have made it into our 220-shot gallery.

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