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Stuttgart, 26th - 29th March, 2015

The last March weekend saw the 15th edition of the classic car trade fair in Stuttgart. Since the move to the new exhibition grounds at the gates of Stuttgart near the airport the Retro Classic has permanently grown out of the shadow of the Techno Classica in Essen to finally become the biggest of its kind in Europe. With 8 of the nine big halls used the total exhibition space with 120.000 sqm is second to none and with 87.000 visitors it set a new record in Stuttgart. With more than 1500 exhibitors ranging from the local manufacturers, dealers and everything else concerning the lifestyle of classic cars the show was not just well accepted by the visitors but also a lucrative weekend for the exhibitors as many cars showed a “sold” sign already on the first day.

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With this amount of space and the modern layout of the halls the Retro Classics can house several different themes within one show very well structured. The main hall of the fair is the dealer hall 1 that also features the Retro Night on the first day, a party with live music in between the cars of the major dealers. Although the organizers claim a permanently increasing international clientele it is obvious that the RC is mainly focusing on the south German area and the nearby foreign countries, mainly Austria and Switzerland with some visitors from the nearby French border. Less international than especially the Retromobile and also the Techno Classica the amount of exotic cars is more limited and the cars on offer are mainly from the local heroes Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Not just in hall 1 but also in two special halls dedicated to both of the manufacturers the selection of Porsche 356 and 911 on the one side and an unlimited amount of Mercedes SL of different eras gave those the agony of choice who were interested in the purchase of one of these types. Especially the amount of the legendary Mercedes 300 SL both as Gullwing and Roadster easily make one forget about their current value.

From Italy several Ferrari were on display but for some reasons they did not really represent the current market as observed during the last months auctions. Certainly one cannot expect to see to many vintage examples but apart from two 250 GT Boanos (0569GT at Eberlein and 0623GT at the Graber Sportsgarage) and a few 330 GT 2+2 the offer was very limited. Surprisingly just a single 512 BB represented the more and more popular Boxer era with a couple of Testarossa rounding up the offer.

Stuttgart is also known for some special exhibitions and a large club area but unlike in previous years with the Ferrari. Maserati or Alfa Romeo display and the collection of Corrado Lopresto this year featured smaller displays. One of the most interesting ones was in the area of the motorbikes with a nice selection of Maikos but also in the hall for tractors and utility vehicles with a great selection of buses, the parade wagon of the celebration of the German soccer team in Berlin after their win of the world cup brought back memories to those interested in this sport.

Tractors ranging from the Porsche Diesel to the famous Lanz Bulldog added a lot to the atmosphere of a more “down to earth” fair contrasting the prices of the main exhibits. In their slipstream a lot of cars in the private offers hall asked serious prices and one of the most used words during the week was “great investment” that seems to take over from the former “fun in driving” motivation to buy cars.

At the end everybody seemed to be happy with the outcome of the show, the organizers with the amount of visitors, the dealers with the sales rate and the visitors with a huge selection of the cars they know and like. Next year might even get bigger as it is intended to finally open the last remaining hall to use the full exhibition area, a success certainly nobody expected when the Retro Classic started 15 years ago.

Report & images … Peter Singhof