Essen, Norbertstrasse, around 9:00 a.m. on Friday. Chaos reigns, the battle for parking spaces is raging. Regardless of losses, like every year. The Techno Classica is calling - the leading trade fair when it comes to antique sheet metal. Before you can enjoy automotive culture, you have to fight for a parking space near the hall.
If you do not want to be rocked by a bus from the early days of transport technology from one of the remote parking lots in the direction of Gruga Halle, which takes a perceived eternity and in principle is unreasonable for a leading international trade fair. Bumper to bumper pushes the sheet avalanche in the parking garage, the fair is only a few minutes walk away. It starts!
What dominates at Techno Classica is very expensive sheet metal. Spending half a million € in one morning for just one classic is no problem. A little more, too. Vehicles for which you can put down 7-digit amounts are easy to find. Is that the reality?
Actually, I'm not interested in the high-priced classics. I'm going to Essen because of the exotic species. Brands that are not widely used or that no longer exist. I like old Alfas, Lancias, Citroens and of course Saabs. Plus everything that came or comes from Brexit Island, and also the other Swedish brand.
Techno Classica 2019 - everything seems as always
But in view of the ongoing Porsche flood, the huge Mercedes presence, and the appearance of the Wolfsburg conglomerate already raise questions. A friend whom I meet a little later classifies all this as a glittering facade of a market that no longer exists. Appearance, and he could be right. The halls are emptier than a year ago, and even at lunchtime the number of visitors is lower than 2018. The fair audience is predominantly older, male. It is dominated by visitors who are far in the retirement age. I, with something over 50 years, almost count to the youthful visitors.
This is no surprise. The campaign against the burner leaves traces. The Techno Classica is likely to report fewer visitors this year, and elsewhere classic car fairs will be canceled completely. In addition, the stately entry of 25 € per person, the lack of inexpensive classics to get started in the hobby. How do you want to inspire so young people in masses for mobile culture?
Sure, there is a “bargain market”. A loveless inner courtyard where average goods are presented at above average prices. A joke. How things will be done with this concept, and with the current discussions and changes, will be in 10 years' time for the fair, is predictable.
But they exist, the bright spots. It's the clubs that are still the salt in the soup of every show. The 1. German Saab Club presents two beautiful classics. The makeshift hall is uncomfortable but well placed near an entrance. The Borgward fans are as always very original on the road, Citroen presents the clubs for the 100 anniversary celebrations on a huge stand. The Subaru stand is tiny, the Volvo Club in the immediate vicinity ruled in comparison almost across infinite distances. But at these stalls is life, it's the average age, the vehicles are affordable.
Swedish hospitality at Volvo.
Oh yeah ... the other Swedish brand. Volvo is of course present at Techno Classica. The stand in Essen is not organized by the importer, but by the Swedes themselves. The atmosphere is correspondingly relaxed and hospitable. There are the extremely delicious cinnamon rolls (be careful - extreme risk of addiction!) And coffee. Volvo presents the new S60. A dynamic, beautifully made sports sedan. Temptation? Yes, in any case.
At least in theory. Because, and that is unfavorable, our Swedish friends parked a Mercury-yellow 60 T-850R and a 5 Turbo next to the S240. There are now three of us on the road, and the question arises, which car would we prefer? Of course the 850 T-5R is the unanimous opinion. Or maybe the 240 Turbo, I still think to myself to myself.
And what does Saab do? As expected, the presence is weak. You can find them but occasionally, although I have not seen all. A very nice 900 Turbo Convertible with just a few kilometers is noticeable, an 96 is presented on a lift. There is still a sonnet somewhere, and on the outdoor area we meet the good-humored Swedes with theirs Saab 9000i again. The was, although some interest was there, 2018 not sold. Why? No agreement on the price, the two see the sporty. I wish you good luck, maybe it will work out 2019. Or 2020.
And although I will not discover a single Saab on 600 kilometers of highway that day, the brand is present. In the parking garage is a real Griffin Cabriolet, in the exit comes to meet me a Dutch 9-3 sedan. The highlight is an early, golden Saab 9000 CC Turbo with French approval.
The brand is small but international. After a few hours at the fair, it's back to Frankfurt in the afternoon. The next day Saab-Grillen is on the calendar. The weather report speaks of snow and rain and low temperatures. That can be funny.