The 30th Anniversary of the Techno Classica in Essen coincided with the Centenary of Citroën, the 60th Anniversary of the Mini s well as the 50th of Austin Maxi, Ford Capri, Porsche 914 and many more. Whilst the Austin Maxi was not celebrated at Essen, Mercedes-Benz rolled out a huge display marking the 50th Anniversary of the stunning C111 prototype. Two newly-finished exhibition halls marked the end to many temporary arrangements of the last years. AROnline went to see if the show lived up to the promise.
Words and photography: Alexander Boucke
Back in 1969, the automotive world looked on astonished at the bright orange Mercedes-Benz C111, a striking design combined with a strong Wankel engine – it looked production ready and, apparently, Mercedes-Benz had many orders accompanied by blank cheques… We now know better, the car was only ever intended to be a technological showcase, but what a glorious one. Together with a few other more or less contemporary cars, namely the NSU Ro 80 and Citroën SM, it made most other cars look old. Mercedes brought six different evolutions of the C111 to Essen, creating a great centrepiece for Hall 1, the traditional home of the Mercedes clubs and factory displays.
Another regular feature of the show in recent years has been the combined display of Porsche, VAG Group and Autostadt Wolfsburg. Within their vast combined collection, there will always be some exhibit most visitors will have never seen before in their lives. Using the four rings as a link, Audi showed a large range of Audi, DKW and Imosa vans and estate cars. The display also included the first ever mobile radar trap placed inside a VW Transporter in the early 1950s – recently re-discovered in a barn in quite un-touched condition.
The joint stand from Ford and the Ford clubs concentrated on the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Capri – many versions of the familiar European Capri were on display, but one of the stand’s stars was certainly a South African-built Capri Perana, which mated the Capri with the 5-litre engine of its American inspiration, the Ford Mustang.
About 2700 cars were on sale, while over 1200 exhibitors offered their wares or services and RM Sotheby’s first-ever German auction resulted in total sales of €18.7 million over two days… Many superlatives, every nook and cranny of the exhibition ground was used. However, we felt that some of stands were notably smaller than in previous years. Opel had no factory exhibit, while Jaguar Land Rover had a rather small stand – just showing the new Jaguar I-PACE next to an E-type Zero electric vehicle conversion. The British sports car and Mini were long-time favourites of continental classic car enthusiasts, but the love for these seems to have cooled down. Following the stagnation of prices for these cars, now they are only very few of them visible at Essen. Meanwhile, Italian cars and exhibitors seem to have established quite a stronghold at Essen in recent years.
Cars for sale ranged from a precious Mercedes 540K or Aston Martin DB5 Cabriolet to affordable cars like MGB, Mercedes W123 models, BMW E30 or Opel Kadett.
With over 200 clubs attending the show, it cannot be said that they are under-represented. But gone is the always little cramped, but cosy First Floor level, where most of the clubs have been situated in the past. We are not sure if the current arrangement of clubs scattered over the halls with some of them placed into two temporary halls (for which read tents) is really helpful. We think the presentation of the clubs in total – not to be mistaken with the efforts of the individual clubs – needs some re-thinking, with the Classic Motor Show at the NEC showing how this could be handled better.
All considered, these are criticisms on a high level. Over 190,000 visitors got offered a lot for making their way to Essen this year.
Club Stands’ Gallery
Cars for Sale Gallery