Last Friday I had another memorable visit to the Essen Motor Show, which can best be summarised as a European SEMA meets classic car show. It is nothing like international car shows, but safe to say that EMS will leave its marks, with a clear aim to please everybody by offering everything on all fronts.
During a few hours walk in the vast halls, I could witness, VW's electric Pikes Peak stormer ID R and Porsche's 919 Nürburgring dominator, I watched the training session of a drift championship, I marveled all forms of technical and biological beauty and was paralyzed in shock and awe by the torture taverns of tuning. There will also be special guest appearances scheduled most notably by Ken Block, but also fans of many subcultures will find the object of their desire from JDM to Movie cars.
The EMS offers attractions in four very different pillars, ranging from classic cars through production cars and tuning to race cars (in some cases with an occasional blur between them). The vehicles around these four topics fill the vast halls of the Essen Expo area, to give an idea about its size, the smaller Hall 4 hosts a drift show. The often contradicting themes balance out each other, although the eclectic layout of stages sometimes result in funny combinations.
Classic and exotic cars
Hall 1 is dedicated to classic cars, and is stuffed with exotic and rare automobiles in perfectly restored condition.
The more recent cars are usually historical specimen, like a Merc CLK GT1 or a pair of Mercedes SLS (at a single dealer, more lovely specimen in the next hall). These noble collections are brought here by specialists traders and restoration companies.
Brabus, once famous for its over the top high-performance tuning, is now increasingly active in classic car restoration and tuning. In Frankfurt, their classic car stage was just as impressive as their normal product range.
I reckon there was a fleet value of a few hundred million euro parking in this single hall. I particularly liked the Delahaye coupé that seems so much ahead of its time, that looks cool even today.
At the same time, don't expect the fancy stages, like the factory stands at the sister act Essen Techno Classica, where you basically get an international motor show level event with oldtimers. This time the only (semi) factory museum presence is courtesy of Toyota with a few exquisite specimens from the Toyota Collection in Cologne.
The main attraction if the hall is the event organiser SIHA’s centre stage, showcasing a set of exquisites (like a Gullwing or a Porsche 918) and exotics (like a Gumpert Apollo, Koenigsegg), or both (some of the Spykers).
These are true supercars from various epochs that mortals like us do not get to see very often.
The Hall also received reinforcements from the German technical museum duo Sinsheim/Speyer. I covered both of them earlier on my Egzostive website, the Sinsheim Museum has an impressive car collection from Gullwing SL to Vector W8, while the Speyer site boasts with all the supersized vehicles from Jumbo Jet to Buran Space Shuttle. This time they brought along a set of crazy rat rods, that could well fit in a Mad Max movie.
Series production vehicles
EMS also has a section that works as a traditional car show, although fairly tuned down, as only a few brands venture to attend with local level representation. This year, Lexus set up a nice stage, reinforced with the classics from the Toyota Collection. They brought along a few specimens of the current model line-up, but the tuned LC500s do steal the show.
Skoda came closest to what can be considered a factory stage at an international car show, with quite a few common production cars, along with a Group R Rallye race car as flagship motive.
Porsche was also represented by its Motorsport department, they featured simulators and technical assistance, and judging from the "decoration" I believe they really mean business. Porsche also brought along the 919 LMP1 car that annoys competition with new absolute records even during its retirement.
The entry of the Hall 3 is dominated by the Mercedes FanWorld, that successfully covers the whole spectrum of the show, from tuned classic racers to modern day track dominators, along with hostesses and current models with a slight aftermarket touch.
The insane big foot G-Class SUVs are a common sight throughout the show, I tried to gather them in this gallery.
The presence of Volkswagen is a refreshing novelty following their pass in Paris. Their stage is however quite specific, and the illustrious guest certainly compensates for the small surface of the stand. The prominent vehicle is the ID R electric monster that stormed the Pikes Peak and took home the all-time record.
The rally world probably still mourns the departure of the Polo WRC, a Rallycross race car reminds us that VW still makes good use of its know how.
Renault also came with its sports division in the spotlight. I am particularly fond of the new Alpine, and they brought along a street legal and a racing homologation version.
Some of the major suppliers venture to match the shows in EMS, and one of the most impressive stages is set up by Toyo Tires, with impressive show cars, including a special guest car and its driver Ken Block.
Of course, Toyo did not forget the rest of the checklist, from hostesses to crazy off-roaders. I still can't help noticing the irony of a tire producer inciting us to smoke, like in the old days with cigarettes, only that smoking is a bit more appropriate (subject to co2 ceilings, of course).
Hankook is usually up to the challenge with hostesses and showcars, although their stage is more sober, still memorable.
There are a few special thematic stages in the EMS, like the SEMA booth in Hall 1. In Hall 3, the Sporty Cabrio Special is such a thematic selection, welcoming visitors just by the entrance. I particularly liked this lovely selection of elegant cars, with no virtual tuning or messing up, just sheer class.
Again its time for a rhetorical break, but I add another gallery just tease a bit. The Show is open until 9 December, leaving plenty of time but some special guest features will be available only on specific dates.