As Americans, we like to lay claim to the biggest and best of everything. Biggest economy, most inefficient government, largest people, biggest ball of twine, and so on. But did you know that the biggest car show in the world takes place in Europe? We tend to think of the US as the world’s largest car buying market (it’s not, that’s China), and look at top car shows like Pebble Beach, SEMA, and Woodward for examples of big and thriving car culture in the States. However, this tends to make us not look outside North America, to see what else is out there. For a different perspective, let’s cross the pond and hit Essen, Germany for the Techno Classica.
Despite its retro-sounding name, the Techno Classica is a very modern interpretation of what a car show should be, and what the big ones in the US could be. Picture a several day festival of everything automotive. New model displays from dozens of manufacturers. Hundreds of car clubs showing off for the car show. Too many used parts to count in the swap meet section, and exciting new developments from the new parts vendors. Plus, auction service Coys pulls a Barrett-Jackson style classic car auction. It’s like the aforementioned Pebble Beach, SEMA, and Woodward Dream Cruise went out and got drunk with the Detroit Auto Show and Barrett-Jackson, and all decided to jam together in the same unbelievable event.
The numbers from 2014 are staggering. More than 2,500 cars on display, well over 200 car clubs, all displayed in twenty different halls. There were 1,250 parts vendors, from 30 countries. The place was packed, as an estimated 190,000 people from 41 countries wandered through the event over its five day run. One paper called a company sponsored exhibit of 30 cars “the most impressive display of Mercedes racing machines ever assembled.” Vendors and services include restorers, parts, automobile related clothes, tools, accessories, literature and art. In addition to the brands well-known in the US like BMW and Volkswagen, Techno Classica displayed their EU-only vehicles, and offered historic brands barely seen in the States. Auto Union race cars sat next to Alfa Romeos from the 1930s. Bentley, Maserati and Ferrari racing machines were displayed with Skodas, Ladas, and a Hanomag.
There is no equivalent to all this in the States. Sure, we do have them separately, and some of those events are really pretty awesome. But how cool would it be to unite American car culture? Instead of separate shows for muscle, bikes, or ricers, imagine if everyone got together. Instead of the endless hot rod, street rod, custom rod, rat rod divisions, let’s just unite everyone under the same automotive fan club tent, Essen style.
Book your flight now for the next Techno Classica, 15 to 19 April 2015.
photo courtesy Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic