Essen’s Techno-Classica: Where Nostalgia Births Reconstruction
Photos by Jeroen Willemsen
Automotive events appeal to a wide range of enthusiast groups by providing diverse viewpoints on the aspects of the hobby, and throughout the world, these events vary greatly in focus and fundamentals. Techno-Classica Essen at the Messe Essen in Germany mixes over 1,200 exhibitors, more than two hundred clubs, and thousands of collector cars from yesteryear into a stew that attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees. Each of these aspects of the show blend into the finest classic European automotive fair that Germany has to offer. At the opposite end of the spectrum, last week we showed you the New York International Auto Show, an event which promotes the addition of new vehicles to a manufacturer’s fleet. The diversity of these two shows offer up just some of the essential ingredients which keep our automotive blood pumping here at Front Street, so we sent European correspondent Jeroen Willemsen to Techno-Classica Essen to capture its character.
Last year, Techno-Classica Essen attracted over 185,000 attendees; the arena was packed to the brim with an international community of spectators. This year’s Weltmesse für Oldtimer shaped up to be no different, with twenty-seven classic vehicle departments from the world’s most prominent automotive manufacturers displaying their restored classics to celebrate their marque’s heritage, and offer various components to assist enthusiasts in the restoration process.
Even the overflow lots outside housed spectacular nuggets of automotive history like this Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione. Created as the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team, these Deltas had extended fender arches for a wider stance, retuned engines for more power, and a completely-redesigned exterior to cater to the added ductwork surrounding the chassis. Styling matched that of its racecar counterpart, which made it irresistible to the rally-loving crowd, while its boxy fender arches offered up a vibrant continuation of that era’s design cues.
Inside, Mercedes-Benz pulled out all the stops with a booth providing an elaborate spectacle, illustrating a timeline rich in motorsports heritage. An individual favorite of their section is this 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé road car; this example is the personal car of its very designer, Mercedes’ motorsport chief Rudolf Uhlenhaut. The 300 SLR is actually based on the company’s W196-chassis Formula One car, and not the 300 SL road cars which share its name. With only two of the proposed nine set aside before production, the project for this car was cancelled before it could begin, as the horrific Le Mans incident of 1955 halted the Mercedes influence in motorsport for some thirty years.
Contrary to the American SEMA Show, which is riddled with new Lamborghini vehicles, Techno-Classica contains many examples of the vintage Miura model. This Oro Metallizzato example in particular was one of 150 production P400SVs, or Spinto Veloce – meaning Hurried Fast in Italian. Lamborghini PoloStorico, the company’s restoration headquarters, is responsible for restoring every nut and bolt to impeccably fine levels of detail, using only genuine original parts. The P400SV was the final development of the Miura model in 1971. The major differences from this model to the standard Miura – other than the lack of eyelashes surrounding the headlight and wider rear fenders – involved the drivetrain. Splitting the engine and transmission lubricants into two separate oil sumps, as opposed to the shared singular unit from the standard Miura, meant these models could be equipped with a limited-slip differential without deadly consequences.
Have you ever seen a more beautiful sight than this raw chassis? Porsche Classic displayed the unobtainable in fine form with this pristine raw steel Porsche 911 Turbo chassis in their spotlight. Accompanied by several other vintage models, an energy drink, and a myriad of available classic parts, this piece of shaped raw hardware is sure to whet the appetite of any automotive enthusiast eager to start a new project. Oh, the possibilities…
Gallery Aaldering presented the pride of Maranello, Italy when it placed on display this impeccable Rosso Corsa Ferrari F40. The twin-turbocharged, V8-engined, carbon fiber-bodied supercar was not originally intended for racing but rather as an demonstration of what was possible; this sample looked right at home behind the stanchions like a piece of art. It’s always a special occasion when the common man can observe this rarified supercar, in this case even more special when viewed under the same roof as its European rival.
The Porsche 959, the so-called “laboratory of the future” as referenced by Ferrari, was the rival speed freak in the supercar battle of the mid-‘80s. Designed as a Group-B Rally competitor, it later found its way into homologation and became a road-legal supercar. The 2.85-liter twin-turbocharged all-wheel-drive layout was the first of its kind from the Stuttgart moniker, and paved the way for future production powerplants.
BMW created a prototype 6.7-liter sixteen-cylinder engine; it was based on their production M70 twelve-cylinder instrument found in the 850i models, but had extra motivation from four additional cylinders. Dubbed the “Goldfisch”, it was originally destined to become the top performance offering of the 7-series before the company eventually pulled it from the production plan. The engine was then stuffed into a modified BMW 750i body as a display of what BMW could achieve. The engine’s massive dimensions left no room under the hood for cooling equipment, which were shifted to the rear of the chassis. This unique body was created and modified with the necessary ductwork to increase airflow to the rear and maximize the vehicle’s cooling capabilities.
BMW also showcased an early Group 5 Touring Car competitor, the 320i BMW Junior Team car. With all of the success garnered by the 3.0 CSL in competition in 1977, BMW Motorsport started the “BMW Junior Team” as a driver development program. Tasked with navigating this 320i to start, the majority of the initial drivers in the program found fame later by piloting open-wheel Formula 2 cars. Still in existence today, the BMW Junior Team has bred several current Formula 1 and DTM stars.
Normally I don’t like to call attention to replicas, but the precision-engineered effort exhibited in the construction of this 911 GT1 replica was so intense I feel it needs to be seen. Since the GT1 is basically an unobtainable racecar, Roland Gäddhultarn set out to create his own version in 1997. Built on a tube-frame chassis, this lookalike finds power from an extensively worked 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine that creates 710 horsepower. Original build cost on this replica is said to be around the $300,000 mark.
This E-Type is the very first candidate from Jaguar Reborn, a program created by the folks at Jaguar to restore old series-1 Jaguar E-Types back to showroom condition. Illustrated by the clever life-size model car kit recreation placed behind the chassis, Jaguar Reborn is capable of sourcing any part needed in an effort to rebuild these forgotten treasures back to their former glory.
We’ll round out our Techno Classica coverage with this peek at the iconic Mercedes compact touring car design from Rosier Classic Sterne, the 190E 2.5-16 EVO II. While the 190E has remained a staple of Mercedes heritage, it is this specific variant that tops the list for many. Built as a direct competitor for the E30 M3 Sport Evolution, the 190E Evo II was furnished with a short-stroke Cosworth-built 2.5-liter sixteen-valve engine capable of 235 brake horsepower. The car’s exterior was treated to a much-larger adjustable rear wing and rear window spoiler in order to reduce drag and increase downforce. The Touring Car homologation rules called for 502 units to be produced, and demand was so great that before the car was unveiled to the public, the entire production run was sold.
We enjoyed seeing all of these classic automobiles shown in peak maintained condition or post-restoration, where they’ve been given renewed life for a new generation of enthusiasts. The manufacturer support is key to these icons remaining active after their initial life, as the discontinuation of parts support is the most challenging factor to maintaining their longevity. If Techno-Classica is any hint to the future of restoration when it comes to these European classics, things are looking up!