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Stuttgart, 2nd - 5th of March, 2017

Just three weeks after the sensational Retromobile Show in Paris the German car show scene starts into the 2017 season with the Retro Classics in Stuttgart. Although Stuttgart is a beautiful city and famous for their local car manufacturers Porsche and Mercedes-Benz certainly the “Neckar-metropolis” is far less glamorous than the “City of Love” and so is the trade show in the modern trade centre near the airport. Ideally located and state-of-the-art built a few years ago the venue is the perfect location for an international show easy to reach both by car and plane. With no less than 9 halls and a 10th in the making the space of the Retro Classics is even bigger than the older and internationally better known Techno Classica. Some years ago the dates of the two big German Shows clashed showing that despite having the same audience both shows can exist beside each other as the Essen show attracts much more visitors from the Benelux countries and Stuttgart has more visitors from south Germany and Switzerland.

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This Thursday the biggest European Show with about 3500 Car and 1500 exhibitors on 125000 square meters opened their doors for the preview and press day where the dealers invite their best clients to have a look at their current inventory before the masses of spectators enter the large area the next three days, many of the best transactions are usually done before the show is even officially open. Unsurprisingly the majority of the cars on show are from the local manufacturers and the booming market of all things 911 does attract an uncountable amount of air-cooled Porsches available in every imaginable colour and version ranging from restoration projects to better than new condition cars. But not only the 911 is still very high in the favour of the collectors but also the purer early 356 and if one is looking for Speedster, Cabriolet or Coupe of different years Stuttgart is certainly one of the best possibilities. But one does also find a few very early examples like a split window or even a 356/2 Gmünd Cabriolet (although from the factory museum rather than for sale).
The amount of Mercedes-Benz on display is not second to that but apart from the “usual suspects” of Kienle and HK-Engineering the Gullwing and Roadsters on offer are rarer than in previous years, the trend is certainly pointing towards the more usable and affordable Sls from the Pagode-series that attract healthy prices and change owner in large numbers during the days.

Just like seen in Paris before also Stuttgart tends towards the pure sale show as the number of club displays or the formerly popular tractor and lorry displays are getting smaller leaving more room for the various dealers and so all those shows are losing a little bit the charm of the hobbyists and get more business just as the entire hobby, cars are more often referred to investment rather than driving pleasure.

So how to bring flair to a car show in Germany? Bring in the Italians and their passion for cars!

For the first time in recent years the Retro Classics took all 9 halls rather than “only” 8 in the past and hall 2 this time was reserved for the “Passion Italiana” where only Italian dealers and event organizers were able to set up this booths. The offers ranged from popular to rare Italian cars like Fiat 500 or pre-war Alfa Romeo and several Ferrari, but also Museum displays as the Ferrari Museum itself attracting younger fans with a Ferrari F1 from the modern hybrid era as well as a highly frequented race simulator. But Italy and cars is not just the sale of them but also restoration and driving in the beautiful landscape and beside the Mille Miglia many more events like the Targa Florio in Sicily are a must on the bucket list. With this new hall the show attracts a wider public and the commuting area goes further into the south as one could hear by listening to the languages spoken these days.

Also from Italy was the main display in the forum when entering through the main entrance. The Maserati Collection of the Panini Family and a section of the Stanguellini Museum were further highlights of this year’s edition.

The show is still going on until Sunday and is well worth a visit although the halls will be rather crowded during the weekend when a lot of families and pensioners can be seen but fortunately thanks to the sheer space of the halls one can still enjoy the cars in detail even when the own bank account might prevent a purchase. If you are coming from further away make sure that you plan some extra time to visit the Porsche or Mercedes-Benz museum as well in case you have not seen enough cars of that marques on display that day.

Report & Images ... Peter Singhof