GALLERY: Proof From Techno Classica That The Youngtimer Takeover Is Well Underway
Photography by Alvaro Pinzón
Techno Classica is one of the world’s largest events for car enthusiasts, and just about everything you see (barring a few manufacturer displays) is for sale. It’s in Essen, Germany, but I knew about it years and years ago as a teenager in Colombia. It’s been on “my list” for at least a decade, and this year I had the pleasure of finally checking it off.
It was a pleasure to attend this year’s Techno Classica in particular because the show was celebrating its 30th birthday, and being a fan of what the Germans call “youngtimers,” I knew the late ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s contingent would be strong in 2019. Still, I was amazed by the selection of nostalgic cars and parts for sale in the many halls of the Essen convention center. Of course, there were plenty of the staples from the ‘50s and ‘60s, but we can all agree we’ve seen a Gullwing and a Ferrari 250 plenty of times already right? Instead, I chose to focus on the modern set of the classics on display, and I was not left wanting for cars to shoot, only for the crowds to momentarily part.
The organizers state 1,250 exhibitors, over 200 club presentations, and right around 20 official manufacturer and OEM booths representing a truly international motor show-like collection of big brands in addition to the majority of the cars assembled by the various auction houses, dealers, middlemen, etc.
If you wanted to return home on Sunday with the title to something built in West Germany, this was the place to be. RM Sotheby’s continued to auction off pieces of the massive youngtimer collection they’ve been showcasing this year, and more than 100 cars were present from the group at Techno Classica.
A solid selection of BMWs and Alpinas filled the halls, alongisde an equally strong selection of Mercedes-Benzes and pre-merger AMG cars that really stole the show in my opinion. The AMGs performed particularly well at the auction, with the sale of a 1990 560 SEC AMG 6.0 wide body fetching a spectacular final bid of €149,500, double the estimate. Another wide body cuope, a 500 SEC AMG 5.4 was sold at an even higher price of €161.000. far exceeding the pre-sale expectations. The most anticipated car of the collection, though, the 1979 Mercedes-Benz 500 TE AMG wagon, brought an astonishing €143.750, more than doubling pre-sale estimate of €60-70k, and establishing a world record price for the W123 platform. This pre-merger black on tan 500 TE it is believed to have been converted to AMG specifications in period, but whatever the story is, it looks the absolute business.
The other brand that got the bids stacking was Lancia, and the trio of rally cars presented all did quite well price-wise. The Lancia Delta S4 Stradale surpassed the high estimate of €550,000 to a record €1,040,000! The car is one of the best-preserved examples of the S4 Stradale, with no more than 2.500km on the clock. The Lancia 037 Stradale that preceded the S4 in the Group B era sold for €770,000 and the Lancia Stratos Hf Stradale was sold at 550,000—curious to see the prices go up according to years, typically it’s the other way around.
But RM wasn’t the only group with extremely rare and modified youngtimers on offer, with COYS bringing a very rare barn find condition BMW M1 modified for speed records on LPG fuel back in the early 1980s. But this wasn’t the only rare M1, as in the third hall I found one of the most radical modified street-legal M1s of the time, a rather in-your-face example from AHG Studie. In addition to the flared ProCar-esque kit, they made the M1 more extreme by increasing the M88’s output to around 350bhp, while also upgrading the suspension and brakes for a nice comprehensive performance package. Peter Gartemann, the president and owner of the German BMW dealer AHG, was responsible for this idea, and it is said that only ten M1s were modified with the AHG Studie package, each one with different paint options—the gradient stripes are pretty love or hate here, but if you’re driving around a souped-up wide body M1 in the ‘80s why not? If that blue one didn’t suit you, the ProCar version should do the trick.
And speaking of tuning trends of the era, who could forget the special Porsche Targa with the iconic rainbow stripes? The co-creator of the B&B cars, Rainer Buchmann and his brother specialized in modifying luxury cars from Germany. They were predominantly white, and never subtle. B&B were responsible for creations such as the Mercedes Benz 500 SEC Magic top (having a 500 SEC back then was one thing, to have the ultra-expensive Magic Top conversion from B&B was something entirely different), as well as a 911 Turbo converted to a flat nose body with 928 headlights (and 16 speakers in the cabin) and turbo-fin wheels, and a Volkswagen Polo Carat with a pretty opulent interior conversion.
If the topic is out-there interiors, this unique BMW E34 M5 “Individual” one-off was fitted with full Nappa leather interior in Tobagoblau from the factory. Only 8,670km were displayed on the dash, so I’d say Mint Classics (the dealer with the M5) were living up to their name with this one! The car brought the attention of the judges as well as the spectators, and was awarded the third place prize for the event, while the best in show award was given to a perfectly-restored Aston Martin DB5 Convertible from Sports Classics London.
At the same stand at Mint Classics, i found a perfect collection of BMW E9s: the highlight, an ex-Dieter Quester Schnitzer Motorsport-campaigned Group 2 3.0 CSL race car—one of the 20 works CSLs built in period— was accompanied by a first-series 3.0 CSL “ultra-lightweight,” and a later example in an equally stunning color. Just behind this special trio was an E46 M3 CSL, to complete a nice little CSL collection across the decades.
Another of the highlights of this year event was the presence of six of the Mercedes-Benz C111 & co. research and record vehicles, along with a beautiful barn find condition 300 SL.
To finalize my fantastic weekend at Techno Classica and to celebrate the youngtimer takeover of the event, my friend Juan handed me the keys to his car for a short test: a mint condition BMW 325i M Tech to cap a wonderful experience in Essen. Below I’ve also included a few more cars and scenes that made the weekend so special—this really is a show that cannot be summed up.