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Stuttgart, 17th - 20th of March, 2016


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Today, after more than one and a half decades of existence Stuttgart can claim to be the biggest show of its kind (at least by the amount of exhibitors and the used exhibition space) and with 90000 visitors over the last weekend it certainly found its place within the premium trade shows.

But although for many of the prestigious classic car dealers crowning a show with their high end booths the amount of visitors is far less important than the quality of those certainly for the major amount of normal exhibitors and for the organizers themselves the amount of local spectators is of no less importance as nobody would expect 90000 people to come and buy in today’s markets, many of them just buy a ticket to get informed, spend a day with the family, have a sausage and a beer and enjoy a day with likeminded people. When walking through the halls on the public days after the preview day one can still see the rootedness in the region whereas Essen seems to be more focused on the Benelux states. Being proud home of the inventor of the automobile and one of the most successful racing marques of all time, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, the display in the 8 used show halls was mainly dominated by these two marques. Especially with the meteoric rise of the value of the air cooled 356 and 911 in recent years the sea of Porsche on display was just as expected in advance. What was more interesting to see was whether the sellers would react on the recent adjustments on the market or whether they would try to keep the helix going and it seemed very much the last. Auction results might not always tell the full story but they still give a very good picture of the market and latest since Arizona in January it is obvious that buyers became more selective, the time of ongoing records for average models seem to be over. Certainly every single car on a trade shows is announced as the top of the range, be it in restoration, originality or rarity (although the last might be disbelieved when the booth next door offers the same type of 911) but some of the prices left spectators with normal pockets leave with shaking heads. Some of the expectations seemed way up the recent results and as the organizers are keen to underline good sales rates one might be curious whether the prices realized had anything in common with those originally mentioned on the car.

Comparing Stuttgart with the first big show of the year in Paris it was obvious that the high class dealers like Gregor Fisken, Lukas Hüni, Tradex and many others were missing leaving the offer of really exotic cars coming a little bit short, others like Axel Schütte adjusted their offering to the local taste with Mercedes 300 SL and 911 2.7 RS Touring. But even without the high profile cars (Ferrari and Maserati was very under presented compared to Paris) a few trends could be followed in Stuttgart again. The supercars of the last 20 years are becoming more and more important, Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR and CLK-DTM (at Mechatronik), Jaguar XJ220 or even the new Porsche 918 are becoming center pieces on the booths. Furthermore the high prices of the Ferrari from the Enzo era with the unaffordable 12-cylinder cars force the interest into newer models as well. After the Boxer models becoming expensive as well the line of the Testarossa and even the smaller 8-cylinder models are coming more and more into the market. This trend will be certainly even more visible in a few days in Essen. On the other side the amount of pre-war classics is getting less and less. Be Stuttgart not the right place to sell them but this is a general development that also could be seen in the Paris show, the center for Bugatti, Delahaye and Delage.

But Stuttgart is not only about sales, fortunately there are always some great highlights on special display. This time the freshly crowned Best of Show winner at Amelia Island Evert Louwman brought some cars from his museum in Den Haag to Stuttgart. Led by his very original Mercedes-Benz SSK and the gorgeous Talbot-Lago T150 SS Teardrop by Figoni & Falaschi the display included some highlights from the different eras presented by his superb collection. With both race cars like the single seater Maserati 8CM, long distance racers like the Jaguar D-Type, but also celebrity owned representation cars like the typical grey Mercedes-Benz Nürburg of Emperor Wilhelm II or the maharaja Cygnet Baby Swan Car the display in the foyer of the exhibition center was a crowd puller. Certainly it would have been great to present the freshly crowned winner from the US but obviously the timing was too short to fly the Pegaso Z-102 Cupola directly to Stuttgart.

Also in the foyer was one of the stars of the show, the newly reconstructed Bugatti T41 Royale built for Armand Esders. Esders was an eccentric member of the Paris society and as he intended never to drive the car at night the lines of the sportive cabriolet were never spoiled with head lamps. Later the car was rebodied by Binder and today is part of the VW collection, in Stuttgart the second reconstruction after the one in Mulhouse made its show debuted.

But there is also partly a sad development in the Retro Classics. 2001 when the ambitious project opened its doors for the first time the various club displays (sponsored by the organizers) helped to fill both the halls and also to bring some color in between the sales booths. Might it be the size of the show where these club displays become less visible, the success of the show itself that makes their appearance less important or simply the fact that less and less young people are interested in these sort of clubs this year only very few of the witty diorama survived and not few of the club displays looked a little bit trist. Very obvious is this development in clubs more interested in the pre-war cars as they are less interesting to young people than the young timers.

The next date for the Retro Classics 2017 is already announced, again before Easter at the first week of March (2nd – 5th).

Text & images … Peter Singhof
www.ClassicCarPhotography.de



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