by Rosemarijn Atalante Veenenbos

The largest classic car exhibition as it is known, and I had never been there before!… shame on me. It was a perfect occasion to compare with Retromobile, which for me always has rated first class… It is hard to tell which is better, since Retromobile and Techno Classica are so different, and each has its own charm. The German show appears in many ways like more serious business, while the French has that typically jovial, cosy and charming Paris atmosphere, brightened up by the many evening parties. As I visited Essen only one day, I was not able to see everything (Paris is usually 3 days stay for me), but what I have seen was just great.

A fun thing I noticed is that there are multiple cultures within the building. The difference is in the smell, the people, the cars, and the mood. I liked the luxurious cars and serious business, and, as you know me, I prefer prewar, especially chic prewar and fast postwar. I heard from dealers that they felt the business at Essen was not as hot as last year and… where have I heard this before…? The words “the market is stabilizing.” Of course the real gems are always sold, unless they carry a ridiculously high price, and there were still quite a few.

Obviously at Essen the Germans rule, so Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW were the featured kings. In the BMW hall there was even a stunning suspended aircraft, which really set the scene for the marque from Munchen. Also the BMW CSL and M1, or a great 502 Barock Engel, and of course the fabulous 507 roadster, gave that wow-effect. Not to forget the i8, which to me is such a daring and futuristic BMW which proves that BMW has everything in house to keep evolving.

The Concours d’Eleganza Villa d’Este impressed in-between all those BMW icons with a delicate Alfa 6C 1750. Rolls-Royce was also attracting a crowd with a wonderfully restored Silver Ghost London-Edinburgh model, exposing its complex engine bay full of levers, etc.

For me the 8-litre Hispano with its cleanly designed engine, Marc Birkigt’s masterpiece, is the ultimate piece of 1920’s machinery, admittedly a far from boring engine! Charles Howard had brought his stunning ‘Type Court’ with its original factory racing body, a car that he succeeded in extracting from Portugal in those turmoil years during the end of the Salazar regime. The engine now has a brand new cylinder block fitted and Charles intends to test its performance soon on an empty motorway somewhere. For me this car is the epitome of a whannahave.

Many dealers had brought a fine collection, but what was surprising to me was that there were so many EXPENSIVE replica’s, evocations, recreations, you name it… It seems these are now peaking?

Thiesen’s well filled stand was a great start of my Essen adventure, and two acquaintances from Bonham’s auction of the Frederiksen collection caught my eye. The Maybach DS-8 Zeppelin and the Lagonda LG6 Rapide, both striking, the first because of its teutonic appearance and the second because of its wonderful curvy lines. I loved many of the cars on their stand, including the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS and the 6C 2300 with Touring roadster body, and of course the pearl dash of their 540K, and many more. All gave me enough to contemplate on this stand.

Overall Essen deeply impressed me, because there were so many gorgeous cars, in every corner of each hall… Ferrari Dinos, Aston DB5’s, Maserati Sebring, Miura’s S and SV and I secretly admired the Aventador, a model a friend has recently acquired. Of course the Aventador is a brand new model, but it will surely remain collectible and I like it a lot.

I chose my personal Best of Show, of which I will tell you all about in part 2.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.