Thursday, December 1, 2011

AUTOMOTIVE - AUTOS: Europe's 'SEMA Show' In Essen

Once one of the world's premier motorsport shows, the annual Essen Motor Show has gradually drifted towards a different scene. This has been a response of the market as demand for race cars and parts has diminished while customizing and ?tuning? road cars have gained popularity.

As a result, mainstream manufacturers have all but walked away, yielding ever more floor space to tuners and suppliers of all sorts of aftermarket parts, rivaled only by the SEMA Show held earlier in Las Vegas.

The Essen Motor Show has become more about tuners and customizers in recent years rather than motorsports. (Photo: Wouter Melissen) In an attempt to continue to give the show a broad appeal, the organizers each year still try to retain a motorsport focus. The 2011 edition of what started life as the ?Jochen Rindt Show? was no exception.

This year's themes included the 100th anniversaries of the Monte Carlo Rally and the Indy 500, and the next generation DTM cars that will hit the track in 2012. For actual debuts the show had to rely on the strong German tuning fraternity that always pulls out all the stops in Essen.

As always, we ventured to the Messe Essen to discover what wonders were on display, and the highlights made it into our 110-shot gallery.

Out in large numbers, the specialist tuners displayed their machinery in different ways. Some, such as Brabus, had dedicated displays, but most of the others used space provided by their suppliers, such as tire manufacturers Continental and Vredestein.

Techart showed its latest GTStreet R, based on a 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo, at the Essen show. (Photo: Wouter Melissen) One of the most interesting debuts was the Porsche 9ff GT9 CS (Club Sport). This was the latest version of the original GT9 introduced a few years ago. Built specifically for the track, it was fitted with an FIA-approved safety system. Company founder Jan Fatthauer explained that this particular version was built to the specific request of a customer and that five GT9s had already been built and delivered.

Fellow Porsche enhancer Techart, showed the latest incarnation of the 911 Turbo-based GTStreet R. Finished in a striking yellow paint, it comes equipped with an engine tuned to produce a hefty 700 horsepower. AC Schnitzer revealed its take on various new additions to the BMW line-up including the 1-Series M Coupe and the all-new 6-Series Coupe.

Motorsport still took a prominent place at this year's Essen Motor Show. One of the best displays was the one celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Rally Monte Carlo. The oldest among the many winning cars on display was the AC Six Sport that had been driven to victory in the 1926 edition by Victor Austin Bruce, partnered by William Brunel.

More recent machinery on display included Sebastien Loeb's Citroen Xsara WRC and the Peugeot 207 S2000 that Bryan Bouffier used to secure victory in the prestigious rally back in January.

An Alfa Romeo 159 Alfetta was among the cars brought to Essen from Alfa's Museo Storico. (Photo: Wouter Melissen) The display of show organizers, SIHA, was dedicated this year to the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. The 500-mile race's rich history was represented by an array of machines that included a 1923 Mercedes as well as Bobby Unser's 1979 Penske PC-7.

Alfa Romeo's Museo Storico supplied two of their Alfettas that dominated the early years of Formula 1, while a Mercedes-Benz W196 and a rare V12-powered Maserati 250F were also on display. The hall surrounding the SIHA display was filled with a colorful mix of classic cars, most of which were for sale.

The 2011 Essen Motor Show did not only look back at motorsport's history but provided a look ahead at the coming season of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). Extensive rule-changes mean that the 2012 field will feature new cars only. Better still, long-time rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz will be joined by BMW.


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