Discoveries and a dramatic change of heart in Essen

| 18 Apr 2015

Make no mistake Techno Classica in Essen is a massive slog. One day (which is all I had) is nowhere near enough time to see it, the shoes comfortable enough to endure it haven't yet been created and it is so well attended that it is near-impossible to get a good clear shot of the cars. Then again, every year I stumble across something (well several things) that makes the trip (and the niggles) worthwhile and reminds me why it is so essential to go back year after year.

My main discovery a couple of years ago it was the Ockelbo, this year it was to see the Volkhart V2 Sagitta (main image) in the metal. This super-slippery VW-based special was created by Kurt Volkhart out of lightweight aluminium in the 1940s and was reputed to be good for 90mph from fewer than 25 horses.

Another facet of Essen is that it also presents a single example of a car that turns on its head my previous indifference to it. This time around it was the Mercedes-Benz 220 Coupé that was displayed by Yvel Classic Cars. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the model, but most W187s simply haven't particularly stood out from so many other classic cars for me. Until Techno Classica that is.

Mind you, it would have to pretty special with a pricetag of €212,000 – then again it was notoriously pricey new – but with barely any miles on its M180 engine since a full restoration it was mindblowingly appealing. The interior was especially delicious!

Finally, though it seems churlish to single out so few things from such a gargantuan event, it always impresses me that people put so much effort into showing a car (or groups of cars) that are a bit different or novel. One of the dealer stands had a great selection of beach cars, but it was the gathering of Seat curios that most won my heart. They comprised a 1954 1400 Visitas complete with vis a vis seats in the boot, a Savio 600 and even a Popemobile. How cool is that?