The 25th Techno Classica in Essen, Germany, shows that the European classic car scene is in full swing now. It handsomely broke last year’s record for the number of visitors, with something for anyone even remotely interested classic cars.
Words: Alexander Boucke, Photography: Alexander Boucke
Everyone who knows the British Museum in London, and has ever tried to view the most important parts of the exhibition will know this feeling: You spend a day walking and viewing – and finally the brain goes into overload. When asked how it was and what you got to see you’ll simply go ‘Errrmmm… – nice’. The Techno-Classica is like this.
Knowing what lay ahead, AROnline‘s team spent two full days at the show – otherwise it wouldn’t have even remotely possible to give our readers a good overview of the event. The sheer numbers impress: 190,000 visitors over four days, more than 1200 traders and exhibitors and – very important for the overall success – 230 car clubs. They covered everything on three or more wheels – from the tiniest bubble car to historic lorries. When looking around the cars and autojumble it was quickly felt how international the show has become: Traders come from all over Europe – visitors probably from even further afield.
During the 1990s, BMW was one of the first manufacturers to create a common show stand that encompassed club cars and its own historic collection. Now every major European manufacturer does this – this year even saw three car ‘launches’ for Germany. The Jaguar F-type, Opel Cascada and Citroën DS3 Cabriolet – they have all been shown elsewhere, but not on a car show in Germany before. Opel and Citroën both used the open-air theme to display a raft of factory and coach built cabriolets.
As British build cars represent a rather large chunk of the classic car scene in German, there was plenty for AROnline readers to enjoy.
Jaguar brought – next to an inevitable E-type – the last-off-the-line XJS; also representing the last V12 in Jaguar’s history. Rolls-Royce presented a classic Phantom Convertible next to a current one – both in matching colours. The MG car clubs showed an 1938 MG SA and a pair of MGAs; of course there were MGBs to be found in Essen too.
But with a few exceptions the selection of British cars on display was limited to exclusive luxury cars or sports cars. The Sunbeam club showing a Singer Chamois and the Rover Freunde with an R17 827 fastback and a Rover 114GTi were notable exceptions.
And then there was Mini: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Cooper S and the 20th year after the end of Innocenti Mini production, the Clubs pulled out all the stops to pull an exceptional display together. Yes, there was a Cooper S, but the biggest part of the display was taken by a large selection of Innocenti Minis.
The bridge between the Cooper S and the Italian Minis was built using four Innocenti Cooper 1300s in identical colour, but with ever so slight differences. The first car in the row was in as new and completely original condition with the very low mileage of about 2500km; the final one a rebuild one including a few popular essential extras, such as modern Minilite-style alloy wheels.
A John Player Special edition of the Mini 1000 was a nice find in another hall, including the typical decor in gold and black – called ‘restrained JPS decor’ in the advert…
The special exhibition from the organisers centered around coach built luxury cars from the 1930s, most of them from the Louwman Collection in the Netherlands (also worth a visit while you are touring the continent). Looking at these, it really seems a shame that such elegant creations seem to be a thing of the past – just imagine how awkward a current Maybach will look next to an Art-Deco Bugatti…
Enjoy the galleries and plan for some free time for a visit to Essen end of March 2014!
British Classics Gallery