Strange Sights From the Biggest Car Show You’ve Never Heard Of
With BC’s car show season in full swing, hopefully by now we’ve all had a chance to check out some of the beauties on display. Everywhere seems to put their own local stamp on the show concept so sometimes it’s fun to see how they do it in other parts of the world. Home to some of the biggest international automakers, Germany has a long automotive history and several popular shows, but one that few are aware of is the Techno Classica show. Held each spring in the northwest city of Essen, it may be the most comprehensive show in the classic car world. With an incredible 1.3 million square feet of display space, there are 2,500 cars on display, 234 participating clubs, and 1,250 vendors to more than satisfy anyone in automotive careers.
This year’s 25th edition drew a record 190,000 people over four days to witness the impressively unpredictable displays from automakers both familiar and lesser known. BMW’s display was particularly complete and engaging, celebrating the 90th anniversary of their motorcycles and the “M” cars from its Motorsports division. A fitting tribute to the land of Oktoberfest was the giant beer tap set up in the trunk of a 1950s BMW 502 sedan, which seemed to be in non-stop service throughout each day.
One of the show’s appeals for students of car sales training is an opportunity to get a close look at vehicles that are rarely, if ever, spotted in North America, like automakers Glas and Bitter, and unfamiliar models from BMW, Volkswagen and Opel. Borgward was a relatively successful German automaker in the early 20th century, pioneers in air suspension and automatic transmission until its controversial bankruptcy. The Borgward Club was out in full force at the Techno Classica with this bizarre bathtub display of its stylish Isabella model.
The show could also be appreciated for its interesting historical lessons, including the nation’s notorious Nazi past. After World War II, Messerchmitt AG went from producing the world’s top fighter planes to eccentric little microcars like the Super 200. This streamlined version set 22 world records for a microcar at the Hockenheimring race track in 1955, including the 24-hour speed record of 103 km/h.
Other oddities found at the festival include a Porsche tractor and a tiny BMW Isetta police microcar. The London-based Coys auction was held here, with the 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C-2500SS topping the sale at over 300,000 Euros. Many classic cars are bought and sold here with bargains of rare vehicles possible to be discovered. Some visit with the intention of finding parts to build or restore their very own dream car, perhaps with the help of an auto mechanic. The space is so vast that one can spend several days browsing and not see every car on display.
Take a closer look at some amazing automobiles of past and present (while practicing your German!) with this highlight video: