Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the most awe-inspiring one-marque display ever seen at a classic car show to dominate the mammoth Techno Classica event in Essen, Germany.
The three-pointed star is always a prominent feature of the show, which runs until 30 March, but to celebrate 120 years of its motor sport history, Mercedes put together a simply mind-blowing selection of its competition greats from rallying and record-breaking to sports-racers and F1.
There were more than 30 cars ranging from a Veteran Mercedes-Simplex to last season's F1 car.
With a raised walkway around the nearly 5000sq m stand, the centrepiece was a three-tier stack of single-seaters. Starting with a 1914 4.5-litre racer, the timeline ran through the Silver Arrows – W25, W125, W154, W165 and W196 – before moving into more modern eras.
Behind the lead Simplex in an almost-as-impressive line of sports and touring cars were a 1910 Prince Heinrich, SSK, 300SL and 300SLR, Group C Sauber C9, CLK-LM and SLS AMG GT3.
There were also six Touring Cars, kicked off with the 1988 190E 2.3-16, as well as a selection of rally cars from W112 to Paris-Dakar winning 280GE.
The cars were supplemented by oddities such as a racing truck, the wonderful cab-forward transporter and more.
Beyond the Mercedes exhibition, the entirety of Hall 1 was also given over the marque with specialists, dealers and clubs pulling out all the stops. There were more than 10 300SLs (both Roadsters and 'Gullwings') on HK engineering's stand alone.
With 200,000 people expected to attend Techno Classica, even if they weren't fans of the three-pointed star, there was plenty more for them to see. Mercedes may have taken the limelight in 2014, but the event always attracts a strong turnout of manufacturers.
The Volkswagen Audi Group also had a vast hall to itself and shared it between all its brands and associates so Porsche, Bugatti and Bentley sat alongside, Skoda, VW and Seat.
The BMW group's show may have been rather overshadowed, but it was also impressive, covering a wealth of history and brands. Highlights included the 328 Touring Coupé replica and the ex-Martini/Wincklehock/Dalmas V12 LMR.
As well as a Coys auction, Halls 10 and 11 are the preserve of the high-end classic dealers, and at the centre of them was E Thiesen, which having scooped car of the show in 2013 was going great guns with everything from an Alfa 8C to Ferrari 225S and Tour de France.
The central display from organiser SIHA was also a sensation, showing off a fantastic group of Zagato Alfa Romeos, Maseratis and Lancias to mark 95 years of the design house and coachbuilder.
Given the usual emphasis on Maserati's centenary, the Modena marque's offering at Essen was somewhat muted with just six cars, but covering a broad spectrum of the manufacturer's rich history with T61 Birdcage, Ghibli and Khamsin. Jaguar Heritage put together a similarly strong stand, however, with C- and D-types, ex-Tom Walkinshaw TWR XJ-S and the Lammers/Dumfries/Wallace 1988 Le Mans-winning XJR-9.
Another manufacturer showcasing its motor sport history was Volvo, which put on show a 122S Amazon works replica, 1965 Safari Rally-winning PV544 and ex-Rickard Rydell 850. Nearby, Alfa Romeo showed off 1931 Monza-winning 8C 2300, the 1923 Targa-winning R2 and 1925 P2.
With some 2500 classics for sale on site some prices in the car corrals and halls were a little eye-watering – such as €27,500 for a Triumph Dolomite Sprint – but there were some good deals to be had (see Market Place in June's C&SC for more).
With more than 200 car clubs showing off their wares, there were some wonderful tableaux in the mainly upstairs warrens of Messe Essen. Some of the highly inventive stands included real sand for a beach car stand and a fully kitted out surgery for VW campers.
As ever, no space was left empty and the passages and smaller halls were packed with autojumble, specialists, automobile and more clubs.
Classic & Sports Car always has a stand at Techno Classica and this year dressed it with a gorgeous OSCA 1600GT2.