The Techno Classica show that takes place in Essen, Germany every spring may well be the greatest car show on Earth. It's 1.3 million square feet of dealer, manufacturer, restorer and auction displays combined with a massive car corral and swap meet. While German makes predominate the floor space, there were plenty of British, French, American and Italian cars and parts to be seen and had. There really is nothing like it in the US. Although cars are a bit of a universal language, there were a few things lost in the translation. You can read more about the show over at The New York Times, but I wanted to share the seven weirdest sights with all of you:
A Porsche Tractor (above)
Back in the day, some enthusiasts complained that the buzzy Audi-sourced four-cylinder found under the hood of the Porsche 924 was a bit agricultural. Clearly those folks hadn't gotten much seat time in an actual Porsche tractor. This three-cylinder Diesel Super Porsche tractor was displayed prominently at the entrance to the show.
Rob Sass is the Publisher of Hagerty Classic Cars magazine. He is a regular contributor to the automotive section of the New York Times and is the author of "Ran When Parked, Advice and Adventures from the Affordable Underbelly of Car Collecting."
Borgward in a Bathtub
Most people have never heard of Borgward (or its similarly defunct siblings Lloyd, Hansa and Goliath). The Bremen, Germany-based company built nice quality, pleasantly styled cars for the most part. Think of the stylish Borgward Isabella as a Karmann Ghia that you can't get parts for. The Borgward Club was out in force in Essen and put together this elaborately incomprehensible display of Borgward tubby-time.
BMW Isetta Police Car
Long before the iconic BMW 2002, the company struggled to find a brand identity, producing both the gorgeous V8-powered 507 roadster and a license-built version of the Iso Isetta microcar from Italy. This one was decked out in German police livery. Our assumption is that dealing with parking infractions rather than hauling around dangerous perps was its purpose in law enforcement.
Messerschmitt ME-109 mit swastika
While the Daimler-Benz display at Essen deftly skirted the 1933-45 years, this seller of aero models wasn't the least bit ashamed. What looked like a 1/8 or so scale model of what appeared to be an ME-109F or G boldly wore a swastika on the tail – strictly illegal in Germany. By day two of the show, it had been covered by what looked like a napkin hastily taped to the tail. Other Naziana on display included a genuine Nazi Party leader door plaque and an oil painting of dear uncle Reinhard or some-such in full Wehrmacht uniform.
Messerschmitt Super 200 World Record Streamliner
After the war, the aforementioned Messerchmitt AG went from producing formidable fighter planes (including the world's first successful jet fighter, the ME-262) to producing silly little microcars for West Germans who longed for more than a scooter. In order to prove the 200's durability, a special streamlined version was produced, which set 22 world records for a microcar at the Hockenheimring race track in 1955. Among them, the 24-hour speed record for under 250 cc cars – the blistering pace was 64 miles per hour.
Classic BMW Beer Tap
BMW clearly understands the value of its heritage. Their stand at Techno Classica was easily the most compelling and complete of all the manufacturers who displayed cars there. This classic 502 sedan was outfitted with a beer tap in the trunk that was in a near constant state of use from open to close.
The World's Oddest Die-Cast Cars
Over the years, We've seen some odd die-cast cars. 1:24 scale Citröen Bijou anyone? However, nothing trumps the 1980s bustle trunk "slantback" Seville model parked next to a Stutz Blackhawk in this model seller's display. It would have been strange to see this pair in Hershey. In Germany? Utterly bizarre.