Mammoth Retro Classics delights bumper crowds in Stuttgart

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With the indoor show season well underway, C&SC’s deputy editor Malcolm Thorne has been busy taking in the sights at this year’s Retro Classics in Stuttgart, which opened its doors on Thursday and runs until Sunday 5 March. 

As you’d expect in the home town of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, both marques are much in evidence at the huge German event, but there are also plenty of less commonplace vehicles on display – ranging from veterans to the latest supercars, and from Italian microcars to American musclecars. 

Some of our favourites from this eclectic mix include a Ford Model T roadster, an immaculate early Fiat X1/9 in period lime green, a truly gargantuan Pontiac Bonneville and a sublime Facel Vega Facel II. 

As if that’s not enough variety, some tantalising oddities grace the show halls – including a bizarre hot rod Lamborghini tractor, and a vast mobile home powered by a rear-mounted V8 from the contemporary BMW 501 ‘Baroque Angel’. 

Among the other eccentricities are a Porsche 356 that’s been decorated with shards of broken mirror and which now resembles something from a 1970s disco, plus a Triumph Spitfire van (yes, you read that correctly). 

No less flamboyant is an Italian Mini that brings a whole new meaning to pinstriping, while there’s also a Fiat that was presented new to Pope John XXIII.

If you find the idea of working on your classic’s electrics a daunting prospect, an undressed Mercedes R129 SL on one of the club stands would be the stuff of nightmares: the interior trim of this technological wonder has been cleverly removed to reveal the astonishing complexity of its seemingly endless wiring loom. 

Over on another stand, meanwhile, the VW Passat club has put together an inspired display of three Mk1 models, all finished in the same Marino Gelb. Two are immaculately presented, while the third, a rusting hulk that’s ripe for restoration, has been mounted on a rotisserie jig with bright orange plastic arrows marking the model’s various rot spots.

Motorcycles and commercials are also putting in a strong presence at the show. If we could somehow fit one into our hand luggage, we might be tempted to try sneaking one of the early Unimogs we’ve spotted back into the country…

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