As usual, the variety was huge this weekend as this classic car show opened the season for Northern Germany and Scandinavia alike: Bremen is well worth a visit.
Especially, that is, if affordable classics are your fare. The lead picture for this article is from the rather unique feature of the show: the parking complex which is part of the Messe Bremen exhibition center. During the show it is transformed into a mekka of budget classics, as privateers can book a parking/sale stall for the weekend at 95 Euro and put their classics up for sale.
And many do. It must be said that in early February, the parking complex itself is as dreary a place as can be found in Bremen, and I swear that the cold, wet and wind-ridden concrete is practically sucking the heat out of your body. Of course this in itself is perhaps what makes it the place of choice for the more affordable classics? Still, the variety up for sale more than makes up for the freezing surroundings, as the selection truly is as amazing as the opening picture indicates.
This year the first car to greet us in the gloomy parking complex was a cheeky Renault 4 of an early 1966 vintage, but very well preserved. Said to be original and with only 54,000 kilometers – and a price tag of 12,900 Euros. Surely that’s top money for an R4 – but where will you find another in such timewarp condition? Then at the other end of the scale was a Citroën ID19 for half that – which vice versa seems decidedly cheap for the model. The thing is, it had almost reduced itself to half the amount of metal it was meant to be – most of the door bottoms and much more had decayed away. But in running order no less, and a brave man could make it shine again.
Or that brave man could simply turn to some of the others, as most cars were actually in pretty good nick. It also never fails to amaze me just how much different automobile you can acquire even on a budget – a Mercedes S-class for instance , even the proper classic seventies W116-type, for the before-mentioned Renault 4-money? Absolutely possible. An Opel Ascona Stationwagon in very fine fettle? Porsche 944? Check. A Volvo P1800 ES? Even that, yes.
It was even here that we found the Prime Find of the Week, a BMW 635 CSi – and it was here my travel companion and I almost bought the two-owner Mercedes 190E automatic at a mere 2,600 Euro. Yes, really – and it was lovely. We only walked away as there turned out to be a dent on the passenger side, and not least because we realized that we really own enough cars already. But not before we had been into the parking complex twice and were absolutely freezing. So from the warmth and comfort of your chair, have a good look below to get an impression of what was on offer. The Bremen Classic Motorshow is almost worth a visit for that alone.
But truth be told, I had the exhibition in my calendar ever since they announced the theme “GT and 2+2”, celebrating the GT-cars – surely the best classic automobile concept ever? The Monteverdi High Speed 375 set the bar rather high, but then being joined by a Gordon Keeble, Maserati Ghibli and Lancia Aurelia GT amongst others, left you in know doubt what this term was once about. Most interestingly, some of the cars showed a fair degree of patina. For instance, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Ghibli with rusty exhaust tips before.
Strangely, its paint defects and dents lent the Maserati an air of authenticity, and suddenly made it easy to visualise it being driven in period. That, and the splendid colour, made the Ghibli my favourite of this group – somewhat to my own surprise, as it’s really a much too obvious choice. But please forgive me, I just love Maseratis. The Lamborghini Espada obviously had it beat on cylinders – but looked brand spanking new and I almost didn’t dare go near it, let alone drive it.
Funnily enough, the other themed area had cars in better-than-new condition as well, and in a group of classic offroaders it seemed even more alienating: All hail the Jeep, respect for the Landcruiser, and amazing that the G-wagen has survived so many years in production. Granted, the Mercedes could actually have been practically brand new, but the others were unable to use that excuse. My favourite here was the little Suzuki LJ – upon hearing that, my travel companion thought I’d completely lost it.
And then again: Between the GT’s, the offroaders and the parking complex budget classics, the Bremem show really had it all. Of particular interest for me is always the special area of Junge Klassiker – “Young Classics”. But even the most open-minded and understanding me, can barely grasp the concept of seeing the facelifted Ford Escort Mk4 hailed as a classic – if that car is that old, how old am I then?!? The Fiesta XR2i made me feel the same, actually – but at least that was a car I thought was cool back then.
Those feelings have cooled off somewhat by now though – and it’s not snobbery about the Fiesta as such, I assure you: I love the Fiesta Mk1, for exampe. But as none where present, I threw my love at a 1977 VW Golf automatic – all original, one owner, yellow paint and brown interior, and with the most incredibly solid thunk omitted from the closing doors you can possibly imagine in a 40 year old family car.
My wake up call was once again my travel companion, who asked whether I really would prefer the Golf over an Mercedes S-class for the same money?
No, I wouldn’t. And the problem now is that I actually DO want an S-class. And a Ford Capri. A Honda Accord. A Suzuki LJ. That Ghibli. And a Porsche 928. For good measure, I added a picture to the very end of the photo gallery below, just to remind me of the by far cheapest and easiest way of keeping a classic car.
But that’s the effect Bremen has on you: You get inspired. Surely that can’t be a bad thing, can it?