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 Geneva Motor Show

Geneva Motor Show

Geneva, 05 – 15 March 2009

The 79th Geneva Motor Show opened its doors to the press on 03 March, and despite the perilous state of the motor industry worldwide, there was virtually no sign of this on the surface. Maybe some of the stands weren’t quite as exotically decorated as in previous years, and the press material in many cases was compressed to memory sticks, a far cry from the days of lavish press kits. However, the latter has been a technological trend in recent years, moving from glossy photos, through slides to the CD-Roms and the memory sticks prevalent today, so may not be an economic reflection, although it must certainly save money. Fortunately, one area where there wasn’t any apparent cost cutting, was with the delightful models and hostesses that graced many of the stands, always guaranteed to attract even the most jaded hacks to stop and “view the goods”.

Despite the economic doom and gloom the show presented a brave face from the motor manufacturers, both large and small, with plenty of new models and innovative concept cars, whether it was in the compact, luxury or supercar sectors. The emphasis on ecologically friendly cars continues to gather pace, with a variety of offerings from all the major manufacturers, plus some small league players, not only in the method of propulsion field, but also in the way the vehicles are manufactured and how they can be recycled at the end of their useful life.

Electric vehicles are nothing new, but with advances in battery technology the number of proposals coming from the big names seems to be increasing, as witnessed by the mainstream Opel Ampera which was one of the show’s stars. This is based on parent company GM’s Chevrolet Volt, which was first shown at the 2007 Detroit Show, and will go on sale in the USA later this year. The European Opel and Vauxhall models have more futuristic styling and are more aerodynamic. The model runs permanently on electricity, with a range of around 60kms, but has a small internal combustion engine acting as a generator to re-charge the batteries and drive the car, whilst it can also be recharged from a domestic power outlet. The Tesla name has become familiar over the past couple of years, with its electric powered sports car, and German tuning firm Brabus has now customised it, to allow the driver to choose any engine noise he or she wants for the “silent car”, via a sound generator linked to the drivetrain! At the same time they have added lightweight adjustable suspension, special wheels and revised interior trim. Another eco friendly offering, although not electric, came from Swiss tuning company Rinspeed, probably best known for their work on Porsches. This time they breathed on a Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse, and called it the E2, where the driver can choose two different engine settings, the standard 158bhp output for highway use, or a 59bhp alternative for town use, which dramatically reduces fuel consumption.

In the regular fuel powered sector, one of the main stars came from the “Blue Oval”, Ford, with their Iosis MAX concept car, which is set to replace the current Focus model. The model features a pillarless four door cabin with a futuristic interior, rear sliding doors, a glass roof and a split tailgate. Power is from a 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engine from their EcoBoost range, providing a clean 178bhp, mated to a six speed gearbox. They also showed their Ranger pick-up, the new KA and hot Focus ST amongst the models on display. Renault showed their new Mégane Coupé RS, together with the one make racing series variant of it, plus their 2009 F1 challenger and its antithesis, the new Kangoo be bop, basic van shaped transport for four people. Mazda presented a new 3 model, plus a prototype small car for the future called the Kiyora. A newcomer to the show was Chinese manufacturer Brilliance, no I’d never heard of them either, but they showed a range of quite good looking models, one of which was their BS4 Wagon, which was designed in collaboration with Pininfarina.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Aston Martin presented their One-77 top of the range limited edition supercar, which as the model name states, only seventy seven examples will be built, at around 1 million + Euros a time. Apart from showing the car, they also showed the bare rolling chassis, a work of art in composite materials and aluminium castings. Motive power is from an enlarged version of their V12 engine as used in the DB9, increased in capacity from 6.0 litres to 7.3 litres, yet being some 25% lighter than the smaller unit, to produce 700+bhp. Italian rivals Lamborghini displayed the wildest yet version of their Murciélago, the LP 670-4 SV, a stripped out version of the base model, with extensive use of carbon fibre panels reducing the weight by  around 100kgs, plus tweaking of the 6.5 litre V12 engine, with a new lightweight exhaust system with a massive central outlet, to produce 670bhp. There was the resurgence of the British Frazer-Nash name, with the Italdesign-Giugiaro concept car, the Namir, in both street and race versions, using hybrid power. Another lost British name, ERA, reappeared on another Italian design studio’s stand I.D.E.A, to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Although the concept car doesn’t yet have any motive power, the company are hoping that a manufacturer will show interest in the project. Another famous Italian designer, Zagato, showed their attractive Perana Z-One concept, and Giugiaro had their Vadho concept car with BMW hydrogen power on the Vredestein tyres stand. Bugatti displayed a white Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport and the Bleu Centenaire version of the model, whilst Pagani showed their Zonda Cinque and R models.

A short distance away, the Ferrari stand encompassed their current range, including the limited edition Scuderia Spider 16M, and the unveiling of the 599XX project car, together with HGTE package for the 599 GTB Fiorano. The former is set to replace the current FXX client track use only car in 2010. It is understood to be 10secs a lap quicker around the Fiorano test track than the standard road car. The HGTE (Handling GT Evoluzione) package for the 599 GTB Fiorano is designed to enhance the already sporting handling characteristics of the model, providing sharper handling, and improved responsiveness whilst maintaining its excellent driveability. The California model was also on display, looking very attractive in metallic black, making only its second major European show appearance after its debut in Bologna at the end of 2007. There were also a couple of Ferraris “in disguise” on the Sbarro stand, the 360 Modena based Alcador GTB, and the similarly bodied Testarossa based LO-GT.

In the luxury segment, the star was undoubtedly the “mini Phantom” from Rolls Royce, their 200EX concept car, although there was also the Maybach 57 on display a short distance away. In the luxury sports sector there was the Bentley Continental Supersports, looking very aggressive with its gleaming white paintwork, black mesh grilles and matching wheels. There was also a display of F1 cars between 1989 and 2009, plus a number of manufacturers featured classic cars from their past, including a 1958 Mercedes Benz 180a, a thirties Maybach Zeppelin D58, the first Morgan 3 wheeler from 1909, an original 1959 Morris Mini Minor and Auto Union Type C Streamliner re-creation. With close to one hundred and fifty world, European or Swiss premieres, the show offered a great selection of new models and concept cars for the visitors to enjoy, along with the regular series production cars.


Colour Chassis #


430 Scuderia

Red-Grey Stripes/Black 166450

Scuderia Spider 16M

Silver-Tricolour Stripes/Grey-Blk 166607

California Spider

Black Met’/Cream 166535

599 GTB Fiorano HGTE

Red Met’/Dark Grey 166526

612 Scaglietti

Grey Met’/Grey 166547


Red-Black 166864

F2008 F1

Red Met’ 267


California Spider

Grey Met’/Beige 165208


Alcador GTB (360 Modena)

Blue Met’/Pale Grey 125009

LO-GT (Testarossa)

Silver/Red 91829

Keith Bluemel

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