Each year, Techno Classica in Essen, Germany—the world’s largest indoor classic-car show—attracts more than 150,000 spectators over five days. Attendees come to enjoy the visual delights displayed by the more than 1,250 exhibitors and 220 car clubs on hand, which range from major manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz to vendors of specialist tools and books. Together they display a staggering 2,700 classic vehicles, most of which are for sale. We worked our way through all the halls of the massive Messe Essen exhibition center to pick out the highlights of the show and snap even more photos in between.
Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT Touring Berlinetta Aerodinamica
At the 1933 Mille Miglia, the fastest closed car was this very Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT draped by Touring of Milan with a Weymann patented cloth coupe body. It is the only surviving example of three built and was presented at Essen by dealer Fine Automobiles in time-warp condition. One of the spare tires still fitted today is a Pirelli Corsa of a type not built after World War II.
Arguably the most impressive display at the Techno Classica was that of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. It consisted of a lineup of all the C111 concept cars built from the late 1960s through to the 1970s as technology demonstrators and record-breakers. It is doubtful we will soon see all of them together again.
German dealer Axel Schuette always brings his A-game to Essen and each of the cars on his stand warranted a closer look. Our eye was particularly caught by the Audi R10 featured prominently. This was the actual 2006 Sebring 12 Hours winning car and was later raced by the Colin Kolles team, which is why it is in private hands. The diesel-powered machine is understood to be in full running order.
Abarth 2000 OT Periscopio
Among the rarest cars on the show, this spectacular Abarth is believed to be one of three or four built. Only three are known to exist and the other two are parts of major Abarth collections. It sports a quirky periscope air-intake which gave the car its nickname and the bespoke twin-cam engine is equipped with ultra-rare and truly gargantuan 58mm Weber carburetors. These alone are worth more than many of the complete cars at the show.
Melkus was a small East German sports-car manufacturer that produced mid-engined machines throughout the 1970s. Fitted with a fiberglass body, the small cars were powered by a two-stroke Wartburg three-cylinder engine. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original RS 1000, the Melkus Club had a lovely stand that included a variety of models. Among them was a later car powered by a V-6 made up of two Wartburg engines. The gentleman at the stand had never seen so many Melkus RS 1000s together before.
Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8 Works Prototype
In the early 1990s, Porsche revived the Carrera RS moniker, and just like two decades earlier this was for a homologation special. One of literally hundreds of 911s on display at Techno was the actual RS 3.8 prototype used by Walter Röhrl to develop the production version. Porsche usually does not sell its prototypes, but with this car made the mistake of quoting a price to an interested customer. He immediately agreed and bought the unique prototype after it had served as a development mule for several years.
Mercedes-Benz E60 AMG
What to do if you reckon that your newly acquired Mercedes-Benz 500E—which had not only been developed by but also built by Porsche—is just not quite good enough? The answer in 1992 was to send the car straight on to AMG to convert it into an E60. The upgrades included an enlarged, 6.0-liter version of the mighty twin-cam V-8 and tweaks to the suspension. The first and only owner of this particular car, the fifth built, specifically asked AMG not to fit a loud exhaust as he would ensure the car remained the ultimate sleeper it was built to be.
Techno Classica always seems to prove the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-Benz 300SL aren’t actually rare cars, but this year that also seemed the case for the Lancia Stratos. Of the nearly dozen on display, the best two were shown by dealer Lukas Hüni. One was a very clean road car, while the other was a full Group 4 example with period racing history. Both had been restored to very high standards.
Alfa Romeo 159 “Alfetta”
Last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix was the 1000th World Championship Formula 1 race. The first manufacturer to dominate the sport was Alfa Romeo with the Alfetta, or “little Alfa.” This was to distinguish the 1.5-liter car from the earlier Grand Prix cars that had 3.0-liter engines. Thanks to a two-stage supercharger, the 1.5-liter straight-eight in the 159 raced during the 1951 season did produce a staggering 425 horsepower.
Volkswagen W12 Nardo
Volkswagen celebrated the company’s record-breaking cars. Among the examples on display was the fabulous W12 Nardo originally built to showcase the company’s then new ‘W’ engines. In 2002, it was used for several high-speed test record runs, which included a 24-hour run with a 322.9-kph (200.6 mph) average for a total distance of 7,740 km (4,809 miles).