Photos and vehicle information by Jeroen Willemsen
We’re currently living in a troubling time when automakers are concentrated on producing vehicles based solely on acceleration numbers, racetrack lap records, and EV range, rather than the physical feel of the car. Salvation from the boredom of statistics lies in an enormous subculture devoted to the restoration of historic automotive treasures. Techno-Classica Essen celebrates the passion to blend modern restoration breakthroughs with dated and weathered European chassis of past decades.
Situated in the Messe Essen in Germany, this now 30-year-old spectacle housed more than 188,000 guests to become the largest public classic vehicle salon in the world. Amidst the 1,250 exhibitors from over 30 countries, was a collection of more than 2,700 valuable display vehicles. These displays are crucial to showcasing the latest advancements in classic car modification and restoration.
Everything from Concours d’Elegance winners, to completely bare historic Porsche chassis, and everything in between flood the halls of this incredible event, and further outline the current trends in classic automotive culture. With so much to see, we wanted to give you our highlights.
1. Sauber Mercedes C9
Amongst the road going vehicles featured throughout, there was also a mixture of vintage racecars like this Sauber Mercedes C9. Jochen Mass and Jean-Louis Schlesser piloted this Group C prototype racecar to victory in every race but one during the 1989 World Sportscar Championship (now the World Endurance Championship).
2. BMW M1 Procar
Elsewhere was this glorious BMW M1 Procar. These cars were built in cooperation with specialist companies, and used in the Procar series created by the general manager of BMW Motorsport GmnH, Jochen Neerpasch. Beginning in 1979, the five fastest Formula 1 drivers during practice, as well as some 20 international private teams, took part in a Procar event held before the Grand Prix race. A similar series in modern times would be quite a treat for spectators, however the life of a present-day Formula 1 driver leaves little time for extracurricular activities. It would also severely hinder the fitness of the five fastest practice drivers, so I fear we’ll have to just reminisce in the days of the old Procar series.
3. BMW E9 3.0 CSL
Following along with the vintage BMW racecars on tap, this 3.0 CSL, once entered into competition by the Belgian Luigi team, was driven by Jean Xhenceval and Pierre Dieudonné and won the 1976 European Touring Car Championship. The BMW 3.0 CSL succeeded in gaining the title of European champion during the first year of its racing career. First fitted with the 3.0-liter and later with the 3.5-liter four-valve engines, the BMW CSL was one of the most powerful cars to line up on the grid.
4. Lamborghini Islero S
Here is a completely spotless, and lesser-known model from Lamborghini named the Islero S. Only 225 units were built in the late ‘60s. It has the same 320 hp 4.0-liter V12 engine as the Lamborghini 400 GT that it succeeded. Lamborghini PoloStorico, the company’s in-house restoration outlet, reconditioned this example to factory standards, with an OEM quality nut-and-bolt restoration. Everything from the color to the shape easily made it one of Jeroen’s favorites from the show.
5. Audi 200 Quattro Trans-Am
The Audi 200 Quattro Trans-Am won the 1988 manufacturers’ championship, and Hurley Haywood won the drivers’ championship in their very first attempt. The other drivers of the car were Walter Röhrl and Hans-Joachim Stuck. The Trans-Am racer is powered by a 5-cylinder engine with 2110cc and 510 hp—increased to 550 throughout the course of the racing season. It is a very significant car for Audi and makes glorious turbo noises while running. If you’ve never heard it, I suggest a trip to YouTube.
6. Porsche 912
With the interest in air-cooled Porsche 912s reaching new heights every day, I present to you the 912 barn find of a lifetime. You are looking at the oldest Porsche 912 in the world. It is matching numbers (FIN350007), and only the seventh Porsche 912 built in 1965. While this comes equipped with a less-desired powertrain than its 911 brother, the market for 912s is on the rise. So if you are looking for a project car, or a solid investment for the future, look no further.
7. Bilstein-fitted BMW 2002
A gleaming deep blue color covers Felix Nolzen’s beautifully restored BMW 2002 wearing Alpina lettering down its side in the Bilstein booth. Nolzen is not too keen on keeping his cars original, and instead prefers to mix original parts with racing parts. The Bilstein suspension also helps to keep this car planted during rigorous spirited drives on European back roads.
8. Porsche 964 RS 3.8
This is the official prototype (964-330) of the Porsche 911 964 Carrera RS 3.8, the one and only pre-production test model. It is probably the world’s most famous RS that no one has ever heard of. In 1992, the Weissach Motorsport division took possession of the internal order number 964-300 from Porsche with the intention of producing a road worthy homologation model and demo car. This car was used as a test mule for all of the RS 3.8 additions that eventually made their way onto the production models. The famous champion rally driver, Walter Röhrl, even road tested the car—and signed the gas door!
9. Benetton B192 Formula 1 Chassis #B192-01
An ex-Michael Schumacher driven car, and Rory Byrne masterpiece, the B192 was designed and raced for the 1992 Formula 1 season. Thanks to Michael’s talented driving, it finished third in the constructors’ and drivers’ championship, despite a lackluster Ford power plant. Although it spent most of its racing career as a spare car, this chassis was recently fully serviced and will be up for auction at the RM Sotheby’s in Monaco.
10. Beutler-Porsche 356
Yes, this is a Porsche. Licensed by the Stuttgart firm, and constructed by the Swedish coachbuilding Buetler brothers, this is one of only 28 examples to ever surface, and one of only three known to still exist. Built on a Porsche 356 chassis—which was also originally designed by the Beutlers—this is the marque’s first true four-seater sportscar, decades before they released the Panamera. But all I can think of is “Beutler, Beutler, anyone… Beutler?”
Overall, the Techno-Classica event in Essen is such a refreshing chance to fall back in love with retro design cues, while appreciating how far restoration technology has come on a global scale. There was plenty more to be seen throughout the halls, though, so take a look through the gallery below for more.