In Pictures: Retro Classics 2018

With Stuttgart’s Retro Classics wrapped up for 2018, AutoClassics brings you the highlights and curiosities hidden away during the four-day show

The sky may have deposited freezing rain and flurries of snow as the temperature sat firmly at minus four degrees over the first two days of Retro Classics, but that didn’t deter thousands of automotive aficionados from completing their 18th annual pilgrimage to the Messers Stuttgart exhibition centre.

Greeted outside the entrance by a huge number of classics – ranging from everyday hacks of yesteryear to more contemporary supercars – alongside a UniMog demonstration over a man-made course, it would’ve been easy to spend a morning outside surrounded by the likes of DeLoreans, Porsche Carreras and Citroën DS Cabriolets. However, venturing into the warmth offered far more than merely the cure for encroaching pneumonia.

A Ferrari showcase by the barriers gave way to a world of exclusive and seldom-seen vehicles residing throughout ten halls. In order to ensure 2018’s event surpassed all others, RETRO Messen GmbH managing director Karl-Ulrich Herrmann worked alongside Achim Stejskal, director of the Porsche Museum and Historical Communications with Porsche AG, and Olaf Musshoff, director of Automechanika Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH.

Upon opening the show, Herrmann explained: ‘Of course, Retro Classics takes account of the trend toward “youngtimers”. Besides rare pre-war cars, historic electric cars and legendary racing cars, there is a wide range of affordable youngtimers and noble Neo Classics presented in an exhibition area measuring 140,000 square meters.’

He wasn’t wrong. For those who believe Retro Classics focuses purely on Porsche 911s and the eye-wateringly expensive yuppie equivalent from each global marque, the wide-ranged mix of desirable classic supercars and everyday heroes from both ends of the price scale was enough to silence any critic.

As for variety, the contrast couldn’t have been broader; consider the 40th anniversary of the iconic BMW M1 and Bulldog- und Schlepperfreunde Württemberg e.V Giants of the Field exhibition sharing the same building.

Towering over the classic car clubs in Hall 8, there was a serious point to the displayed heavyweights. Besides offering appreciation of the sheer size of these beasts, the display – stretching from modern day back to the origins of agricultural motorisation – was a true one-off. From steam tractors through tracked machines from the turn of the last century, the popularity of this heritage-focused segment proved a great distraction from the more fashionable vehicles in the room.

One of the most popular attractions remained Porsche’s 70th birthday celebrations, which acted as a curtain-raiser to a full year’s schedule of commemorative events. There were display models from across the marque’s impressive history, while autograph slots were available with legendary racing drivers Walter Röhrl and Hans Herrmann.

Fans crowded around the white 356, whereas the 959-based 961 was obscure enough to leave even seasoned fanatics scratching their heads. Representatives were also present to talk through the Silverstone-based Porsche Sport Driving School.

A significant allure for pre-war devotees presented itself in the form of Mr Saulius Karosas’ collection of Karossier Erdmann & Rossi vehicles – the world’s largest assembly of early Horch, Audi, Maybach, Rolls-Royce and Bentley models. The collection consisted of 80 cars, something Karl-Ulrich Herrmann was delighted to host: ‘I’m very glad, and proud, to show this collection here,’ he explained. ‘I admired this collection 25 years ago in Berlin.’

The Brits were well represented, with a dedicated English Corner presenting the finest of British Leyland. On display were a Rover SD1 Vitesse and 114 GTi plus several Morris Minors, alongside MGB V8s and various Triumphs. Also on show were some smart Minis – albeit it with a difference. Under the bonnet, their commonplace A-series engine was nowhere to be found. Rather, Honda’s V-tech powerplant stared from behind the lights.

It was also under the hood of an otherwise respectable-looking Audi that true automotive infamy was found – the legendary, although perhaps for all the wrong reasons, Audi V8. Now that was a true masterpiece in how not to design an engine. Naturally, now that it’s considered largely extinct, this mechanical marvel drew quite a crowd.

Further engineering Valhalla could be found in the form of an S-Class W140 boasting 12 cylinders. For a show that was drowning in tuned AMG examples, this proved a refreshing dose of factory-standard antiquity.

For those of a 4x4 persuasion, the number of legendary four-wheel-drive vehicles was truly remarkable. From the most concours of World War Two military Jeeps to modern Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens and all manner of UniMogs, not to mention the vast amount of classic Range Rovers and Land Rovers, there was only one problem; they were all far too polished. Never has a Land Rover Stage 1 V8 been so dent and damage free – but it’s good to know there are some pristine examples out there.

Naturally, those seeking the finest German automotive offerings didn’t have to look far. Besides the Benz 190Es, Porsche 911s and Audi Quattros, Mercedes 300SL Gullwings and BMW 850is littered the executive stands.

A taste of Italy was offered in Hall 7, with 101 Italian motorbikes sitting alongside every kind of Alfa Romeo and Fiat. It was hard to peel away and explore the other halls.

Yet, with artwork in the corridors, including a jaw-dropping E-type sculpture, and a special Museum of Art and Cars (MAC) showcase incorporating the Andy Warhol series – never before had Marilyn Monroe and a Volkswagen Beetle come together in such a fashion – it was certainly hard not to get distracted.

With so much to scrutinise and view, it’s clear why Retro Classics lasts four full days. You could spend that time alone trying to find the exact bag of nuts and bolts you require within the giant trade hall. Even Herrmann warned us of that…

Next year’s event takes place on March 7-10, 2019.

Retro Classics 2018 highlights

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