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Essen, 8.-11.04.2010

In its 22nd edition the Techno Classica in Essen proved again its reputation as Europeans leading fair for classic cars. Although the fair opens to the public on a working day it became clear already on Thursday morning that the interest of the public is undaunted. More than 170.000 visitors were counted during the following 4 days leaving a very positive conclusion to the organiser SIHA. Due to its geographic location the fair has a traditional focus on Germany and the Benelux countries concerning both visitors and exhibitors, but with more than 1100 exhibitors of 30 different nations the fair is getting more and more international every year.

The cars on show are as diverse as the visitors, ranging from the small local car clubs to the major manufacturers. The car clubs have to compensate their small financial means with good ideas and personal engagement. Usually their cars are presented in lovely self-made dioramas. The Passat Club for example set up a radar speed check with Passats on both sides of the camera, the Wartburg was presented in a small farmstead. Although not a new idea some cars where displayed as slot cars including lap counter and oversize distant control. The Tatra Club showed a car that burnt out years ago on one of their club outings when even a number of fire extinguisher could not prevent the disaster. Although interesting presented the sight of the totally destroyed car was not easy for all the fans of old cars as it reminds us what can happen to all of us.

On the other side there are most major manufacturers present with more or less splendid booths. The largest of them was once more Mercedes-Benz that covered almost the entire hall 1, one of the larger halls at the south entrance. The factory itself had the theme of the supercars of the different eras to present their new SLS. The much admired car was surrounded by 9 cars from a Simplex 60 HP that was one of the fastest car in 1903, the iconic 300 SL Gullwing, the much advanced C111 and the less known C112 to a CLK GTR, the Vision SLR and a CLK DTM. But Highlight of the display was the very original 720 SSK that was sold in 2004 after 64 years of ownership at the Bonham's auction in Goodwood and is part of the Dutch National Motor Museum since then. The car is still in superb unrestored condition leaving no questions about its authenticity and is a great contrast to some of the restored cars with more questionable history. It is already possible to build such a car entire from new parts as proven by Kocher&Beck in the next hall.

Beside the factory some associated clubs and many restorers specialised on the 300 SL or 300 S show their skills and due to the amount of cars one could forget that these are very expensive cars but the demand does not seem to decrease.

Another hall was occupied by Volkswagen and its subsidiary companies Audi and Skoda. The display of the Autostadt Wofsburg was called “The Most Beautiful Volkswagen Exclusives of the 50s/60s” and featured some rare examples of small series cars based on VW with special coachwork. Whereas the name Karmann and Hebmüller are more common others like Stoll or Rometsch might be just known by insiders. Other features were the young history of the rallye success at the Dakar Rallye or the iconic Bulli.

Audi celebrated 30 years of the quattro that will also be the next special exhibition in the museum.

Just hidden in the corner of the hall was a separate booth of the premium makes Bugatti and Bentley. The most exclusive cars like the No.2 Birkin team blower and a beautiful Bugatti T57 S Atalante contrasted with a very poor illumination compared to the rest of the hall. Although it is great to see these cars beside their modern successors the lightning leaves room for a further improvement in the next years.

Highlight amongst the factory displays was without doubt the small but superb Alfa Romeo stand. Celebrating their 100th anniversary this year the Milanese Company brought some of their most iconic racing cars to Essen. Starting with the only P2 in running condition and a Tipo B on the pre-war side the crowd pullers were the 2 Alfettas. Designed as a 1.5 litre engined Formula 1 car based on the pre-war 158 Alfetta, delivering no less than 420 PS in their latest development these cars were extremely successful in the hands of Farina and Fangio and gave the company the first championships of the new formula in 1950/51. One of the displayed cars was stripped from its bodywork to allow an inside view on the advanced and filigreed technology including riveted and machine polished fuel tanks. The display was rounded off by a 6C 3000 CM from 1953 that was also piloted by Fangio, an Alfa 33 TT 12 that won the Sportscar Championship in 1975 and an 155 2.6 V6 that won the German Touring Car Championship in its debut year. Two more icons were on loan to other exhibitors, the T33 Stradale was displayed at the booth of the German magazine Motor Klassik beside the Ferrari 250 GT SWB “Breadvan”, the Disco Volante Coupé was displayed for the Raid Suisse-Paris Rallye.

Hall 12 was dedicated to BMW as usual. The Museum celebrated the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Mille Miglia success. The last Mille Miglia before the war was held on a triangle course rather than the usual Brescia-Rom-Brescia stage and was won by the 328 MM Touring Coupé in the hands of Huschke von Hannstein and Walter Bäumer. Beside the winning coupé BMW brought an “ordinary” 328 roadster and a pair of MM roadsters. Whereas one of them is an original car the other is a replica of the so called “Bügelfalte”, this car was build several years ago when the original car was on loan at the BMW archive. During this time there was also a replica build of the winning coupé as this car belonged to an American collector. Several years later BMW acquired the original coupé but the Bügelfalte went to a private German collection. Ironically the original car was just a few halls away as this car will be auctioned in May in Monaco by RM Auctions and therefore was the main attraction on their preview. This is the second time that BMW displayed a replica at the same show as the original car as the same thing happened a few years ago with the coupé. Maybe it would have been wiser to display the 328 Berlin-Rom Touring Spider instead as this was lent to AutoBild Klassik.

As the Techno Classica is a trade fair surely most of the 100.000 square meter were used by classic car dealers. The offer spread over the full spectrum of the market, from youngtimers in the private offers at the outside area to the most expensive cars currently available on the market.

It is easy to see what clientele the particular dealers have in mind just by the way they present their cars. Some of them base their strategy on a large number of cars and they try to get their profit by a high sales rate. To ensure this they try to present as many cars as possible on the smallest exhibition space to keep the costs low. Although this does not mean that they have not cars of special interest these are mainly cars in the midrange and they are sold on commission. The cars are standing so close together that it sometimes is difficult to walk through, not to mention taking a picture. Many of these dealers are located in hall 11 as this is the only hall with daylight so one can save expenses for the lightning.

Other dealers present their company rather than their stock, they are not primarily looking for the walk-in customer for one of the cars but for long-time clients. They often present cars that are already sold to show prospective customers their references and these dealers usually are more splendid with their space to create an impressive display. One of these is Lukas Hüni that usually displays at the entrance of hall 1. With stylish black background and floor this stand is always one of the highlights of the show and again it did not disappoint. Some of the displayed cars were already known from the Retromobile earlier this year like the Ferrari 512 M sn.1002 and the Siata 208 CS Berlinetta, new was a rare Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta “TdF” (sn.1113gt) and a pair of Lagondas. One was an original LG45 Rapide, the other a V12 Rapide in very beautiful two-tone livery.

As in Paris the main rival for the title “best booth of the show” was the stand of UK based dealer Hall&Hall. The display featured some gems of the Donington Collection that are rarely seen on the continent. Being specialised in race cars they featured the only Auto Union 2 Litre car in existence. This car was build in 1952 in Chemnitz using pre-war technology on behalf of Stalins son Vasily who wanted a Soviet racing team after the end of the war. The car build is named Type 650 and nicknamed Sokol and was intended for the formula 2. Although one can dispute whether this is a proper Auto Union or not it really is a special car.

Another interesting car was the 1967 BRM H16 P115-01. As the formula changed that year from 1.5 litre to 3.0 litre this car has an engine that is basically 2 1.5 litre engines attached to a 3 litre in H-shape but the car was not successful as the engine was to heavy. Just 2 examples were build, this one was raced by Jackie Stewart. As at the Retromobile 2009 Hall&Hall displayed again a prototype SL (W194) with airbrake.

When things come to Ferrari the 250 California Spider was the dominant car of the show. With 3 SWBs (1795gt, 1951gt and 3077gt) and 1 LWB (1253gt) one does not often see more of them at one place. The last mentioned was part of the preview for the upcoming Monaco Auction of RM Auctions, this might be the most interesting auction in Europe this year. As it replaces the Leggenda et Passione Auction in Maranello it has a large number of Ferraris including 250 GT SWB, 250 TdF, the mentioned California Spyder and a 275 GTB/6C that where all presented in Essen. The Rolls Royce collection of Hans Zach was represented by the “Star of India”, there was a Maserati Birdcage, an Aston Martin DB5 Vantage and a beautiful Delahaye on display. Star of the auction will be the already mentioned original BMW 328 MM Roadster, the “Bügelfalte”.

... more informations about this auction >>>

A detailed review of this auction will follow in May.

Text & Images: Peter Singhof