I’ve only been to Germany a few times and never to Essen. To be honest, I’ve never really had a great desire to travel to Germany. I’m not sure why. I’ve owned and driven German cars and have always enjoyed the people and food there but I guess there was nothing that really pulled me in. Perhaps the lack of interest in Germany was pure ignorance on my part as the only city I had ever visited was Frankfurt, and just short trips to the Automechanika event at that. However the Techno Classica in Essen seemed interesting and Germany was on the way to Italy so why not. We arrived in Dusseldorf from Heathrow and departed the plane directly on the tarmac. I didn’t think that sort of thing still happened. Walking down the stairs of the plane, I pictured myself carrying a retro PanAm bag from the 1960’s. We cleared immigration and proceeded to a taxi for the 30 minute ride to Essen. Note to self: Next time, take the train and save $50.00. Essen was clean and modern and
the hotel of choice was the InterCity that proved to be an ideal location when visiting the Messe, the location of the Techno Classica . The room was clean and Euro modern and the staff welcoming. It was just a short walk to the subway that carries you directly to the event. As a bonus, the room includes a transit pass that is good for the duration of your stay. As a first timer to the event, I really had no idea what to expect but that’s always part of the fun. There is no life without adventure. Reading past articles and even the information provided by the show organizers billed this as the largest event of it’s kind in Europe. But how “large” was my question. Americans have a different view when it comes to things billed as the “largest”. We walked into the fist hall and at that moment in time, I knew great things were in store for the classic and retro car fan. Things are looking pretty good when you are greeted by a BMW 3.0 CSL
Batmobile. The show is laid out in the Messe, comprised of a patchwork of odd shaped buildings and halls. Each hall houses different vehicle brands, parts or other impressive displays that are themed in various genre. With two days to see it all, the rush was one.
As expected there were many German cars on display so if that’s your thing, you’ve come to the right place. There are also plenty of Italian cars to see and other unique to Europe classics that you typically don’t see in the USA. The “Youngtimer” category is also gaining popularity. Youngtimer as apposed to classic, is a car from the 1970’s through 1980’s or 90’s. From what I could unofficially gather, the Youngtimer category is for cars that are at least 20 years old , or young depending on how you look it. So this would include such cars as the VW Rabbit or Golf as the rest of the world knows it. This category is becoming so popular VW has released new body shells for the MK1 Golf. BMW is even supporting some of the cars through their classic program. I’m glad to see these more modern classics taken seriously. A Volkswagen MK1 Golf GTI is no different than a Ford MK1 Cortina GT in terms of provenance.
I am always interested in historic automotive and race memorabilia. There were at least 3 halls filled to the brim with service station signs, clocks, ashtrays, books, you name it. The selection was impressive and interesting. The parts and components suppliers were also out in full force selling parts to keep all those classics on the road.
The various marque clubs had some interesting displays featuring staged scenes that in some cases , appeared downright strange. However the most impressive was the Ford RS Group. Just about every important Ford that was raced in Europe was on display.
Most impressive however is the support from the vehicle manufactures Techno Classia . Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz all presented some of their finest creations surrounded symbolic displays.
A classic car event in Germany would be incomplete without Porsche and as expected, the halls were filled with just about every type ever produced. Mittelmotor had a great display of engines and components for the flat six. There is no shortage of high quality performance and racing components for Porsches. The constant development of an engine that was first produced nearly 50 years ago is impressive. I was chatting with one of the representatives from Mittelmotor and he mentioned business has never been better with the recent upswing in popularity of early 911’s and that much of their business is to the USA. You had better buy that air cooled 911 before they are out of reach.
After all, the Techno Classica Essen was the biggest classic car show in Europe. With nearly 200,000 visitors from 30 nations and over 1200 exhibitors, the show was a great success. People were friendly, the cars were spectacular and I will be back.
I will close this feature with a parting shot of this pre 67 VW Transporter, they are so cool especially when they have a race car in the back. I walked up to the woman on the floor and was about to politely ask her to move so I could take a clean photo. I then realized she was nursing her child. So much for that ….and to quote a famous movie: “But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is” …”it’s the little differences”….?