The 25th running of the mammoth Techno Classica show in Essen got under way with record crowds and the finest displays of classic cars in recent years.
No show is better supported by manufacturers, with BMW and Mercedes having whole halls to themselves, but it was one of the smallest corporate displays that stole the show.
Alfa Romeo's delectable, all-red line up of fantastic racers and roadgoing exotics was swamped from the outset. The stand included the 1923 Targa Florio-winning RL, T33s, SZ, TZ and TZ2.
Credit, too, to Skoda for a fine showing of vehicles tracing nearly the entire company history, while Volvo continues to impress, this year with a bizarre hot rod and the Ockelbo sports racer (read the full Ockelbo story in James Elliott's blog).
The Volkswagen group did well to showcase all its brands, while on the Audi stand the undoubted star was the vast 1939 Horch 930S Streamliner.
Bearing a passing resemblance to a DKW F9, this one-of-six pillarless saloon is a 2300kg, 5.5metre long behemoth.
Of the many delights in the BMW and Mercedes halls, a pair of fearsome racers was the star attraction for the former (below) and a rather more sedate train of Simplex 60PS, Nürburg 460 and 770 Grosser for the latter (two below).
The German car clubs put a real effort into Techno Classica and, even though the basement Youngtimer show seemed weak this year, there was plenty more to excite.
The Bertone X1/9 Club Deutschland had put together a particularly clever ‘infinity’ tableau, while the ‘bathroom’ setting for the Borgward Isabellas was slightly bemusing.
Prices in the packed autojumble were high, but didn’t prevent loads of bits and pieces being snapped up.
Other standout cars included a wonderful hard-top Maserati A6GCS Pinin Farina Coupé shown by the Maserati Club.
Most appealing Opel was a Super 6 ‘Gläser’ while a Glas pair of 1700GT Coupé and 1300GT Spider were also getting a lot of attention.
One of the more intriguing exhibits was the 1934 Siddeley 5000 Streamliner on Christoph Darscheid's stand.
Across the 16 halls there was a multitude of dazzling dealer displays. One of the most spectacular was E Thiesen, which showcased not only a 1936 Maybach, but also a 1954 Fiat Otto Vu Sport Zagato, 1951 Ferrari 212E/225S and, less exotic but equally appealing, a superb 1960 Mercedes 190B Binz-Kombi complete with Kennedy for President sticker in the rear window.
The 1943 alloy-bodied supercharged 1500cc Fiat Barchetta (below) proved popular with the Klima Lounge, while a similarly patinated Bizzarrini Europa (two below) was drawing the crowds to the La Galerie Des Damiers stand.
The central display comprised mainly sensational cars from the Louwman Collection (see pictures at bottom of story), but there was plenty more of interest, including the Tatra T87 on Christoph Grohe's stand and the 1952 Siata Daina Sport Coupé (one of just 12 remaining) that was being used to demonstrate the skills of Classic Car Restoration Milano.
Among a wealth of great kit on the Movendi stand, top-billing was given to the 1954 Autobleu 750 Mille Miglia Streamliner.
One of the interesting things about the Essen show is the German championing of neo-classic and Yanks. You would have to like them a lot, however, to fork out the €89,950 RD Classics was asking for a Stutz Blackhawk.
Asking prices throughout the three outdoor and one indoor private cars for sale sections seemed ferociously high, which was a shame because of the quality and variety of cars on offer. One that did catch our eye was a 1936 De Soto Airflow at €45,000, but see C&SC next month for a full report on the cars for sale.