Porsche takes centre stage as Stuttgart spectacular opens


Retro Classics in Stuttgart opens today (8 March), and the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911 is playing a central role.

Porsche Classic’s stand pays tribute to the sports car with a line-up that includes the Typ 754 prototype from 1959, the very first production 911 turbo and the homologation-special GT1 from 1997 – one of only 21 built.

The famous anniversary is in danger of being upstaged by two other fabulous collections, however.

The Horch Museum in Zwickau has worked with Horch Classic to present a display of 18 cars, from a 1925 10/50 Cabriolet and a gorgeous 1933 710 Spezial Roadster to the 1957 P240 Sachsenring.

There is also a recreation of the 1937 853 Stromlinen Coupé that used to belong to Grand Prix legend Bernd Rosemeyer, and which he nicknamed ‘Manuela’.

Hall 4 features an incredible line-up of 23 Delahayes that was put together by the owners' club. The cars sport bodies from 13 different coachbuilders, and include the 135S that finished second – behind another Delahaye – at Le Mans in 1938.

As ever, Mercedes has put on a good display, with a 1904 Mercedes-Simplex sharing a platform with a 1929 Nurburg 460. Elsewhere on the stand, the firm has arranged a display of ‘Youngtimer’ SLs, plus an imposing 770 ‘Grosser Mercedes’.

The marque’s official presence sits well alongside a huge turnout of the various German Mercedes clubs, which have brought along everything from a 1937 540K Cabriolet to a selection of S-classes. The SL Club is marking the Pagoda’s half-century with the first production example alongside an ex-Böhringer rally car.

Many other milestones are being celebrated this weekend. The Passat-Karte club has a trio of cars to mark 40 years of the big Volkswagen, while the NSU Wankel Spider Club is promoting the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of a Wankel-engined car.

There is plenty of oddball stuff to see as well. A display of tractors, buses and lorries shares space with the various BMW clubs, and the De Lorean Club Deutschland has brought a trio of DMC-12s: a competition-spec example, a turbocharged version, and a gold car complete with (one presumes) fake drugs in a suitcase on the passenger seat – a nod to the infamous ‘sting’ that trapped John De Lorean.

Enthusiasts are invited to drive their classics to Stuttgart, with a special area outside the exhibition centre being set aside for them to be shown off in their own right.

A large queue of cars had already formed in the sunshine by 9am and, alongside the usual Mercedes and BMWs, there was a good turn-out of NSUs – standard and, more often, modified – and even an Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato.

Retro Classics runs until Sunday 10 March.


Mario Laguna

Hi James.
Thanks for the vivid, wonderful preview. Retro Classics really stands with a fist and has nothing to envy to the rival giant which often comes to mind.
Yesterday I was exhausted at Messe Stuttgart, walking all around from Hall 1 to Hall 9 and back. The centre Rothauspark, with sunny gardens in the afternoon and water falls is really beautiful and gems to be discovered await visitors in every corner. Today I plan to do it in a more relaxing way. In the first place I will leave the powerless camera (already) in the trunk.
The blue Porsche 550 (in De Lorean's photo background) with body by Wendler Reutlinaen looks well preserved. It was imported to France by Sonauto, rue Paul Valéry, Paris.
I liked the Delahayes, in particular the spacious one-off 1952 Type 235 by Faget-Varnet. But the cars which I liked more this time were the little coachbuilt Italians. Abarth-Zagato, Giannini prep Fiats, Siata Daina Grand Sport by Farina (of which two can be found within two hundred meters), the very first Bizzarrini body on a modest 500 Topolino and a lovely Intermeccanica Puch by Fratelli Corna made my day.
The one that I would take home, however, is a 1956 Nardi 750 prototype, built to be displayed at the 1956 Turin Show. I was frustrated when the battery went flat and the camera refused to work. Amateurs!
I would love to see some photos of the Nardi (could you please help, James?)

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