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Старый 07.12.2012   #1
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По умолчанию Essen 2012

Whilst mainstream manufacturer attention has been focussed on the LA Auto Show, over in Germany the 2012 Essen Motor Show was highlighting the more extreme side of automotive culture: everything low, loud and fast in the European tuning scene. An even wider collection of cars, components and clubs was being displayed, showing off the evolution not just of the various tuning scenes but also of specific custom projects and concepts.

The show is held in the Messe Essen complex: even its 12 huge multi-level halls now seem to be struggling to contain the event, which gets bigger every year. The term ‘Motor Show’ doesn’t adequately sum up Essen: it’s a motor show, tuning event, drift show, museum, collector’s fair and racing fan’s paradise all in one.

From the car parks in, your eyes don’t get a rest for the entire day.

Essen started off as more of an after-market tuning show, but over the years it has grown to embrace pretty much any style and era. Even some mainstream automotive manufacturers have added their weight to Essen, rubbing shoulders with the tuners and showing off their own premium brands and heritage.

Often they link through to their racing programmes, with heavy representation from the brands racing in the DTM both on their own stands and through the after-market companies and racing series. It looked like half of the cars from this year’s DTM were at Essen!

It’s an unusual thing to see, and shows how attitudes are changing. Even Toyota were represented in the Motorsport hall, with their Le Mans-spec TS030 Hybrid LMP racer on show – looking rather like a toy from this high angle.

Talking of which, amongst the myriad of trade stands was plenty of temptation for the model car fan in everyone: though the prices could be rather eye-watering for the big, high quality makes.

What you could check out in small scale was complemented by the displays in the main halls, which was packed with concept cars, modern racers and a massive area dedicated to classic sportscar. ’50s roadsters joined the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 unguided missiles of the late ’60s, screaming lightweight prototypes of the ’70s and Group C monsters of the ’80s: a stunning trip through racing history.

Even more strongly represented were the big parts manufacturers: the wheel, tyres and suspension makers.

Their stands allowed the use of even more eclectic line-ups to demonstrate their product lines, from racers to tuned supercars and saloons.

Hankook supply the tyres to the DTM, part of a big push for the brand in Europe, and Germany in particular.

Special guest on the KW Suspension stand was Fredric Aasbø’s Toyota 86-X, in good company with several big GT racers and street cars that had been given the KW treatment.

When not busy with media interviews on the KW stand, Fredric himself joined the crowds and browsed the halls, taking in the huge selection of cars on show.

Essen is a stunningly inclusive event, like being at a dozen specialist shows at once: Europe’s answer to SEMA.

The halls follow general themes, allowing you to walk through a stunning mix of styles. The hot rods got a special display area to themselves, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 1932 Ford Model B series.

The sales hall was where you could dream about what classic you’d like to own some day. The Merc or the Porsche?…

And of course street tuning style was the underlying current for the whole show.

We’ll be taking a detailed look at all these different aspects over the next couple of days, but we’ll start off with a look at cream of the modern tuned cars and concepts.

It doesn’t get much more heavy hitting than Brabus. Even the name sounds like a rumbling earthquake. This is a company all about numbers: big numbers. Big numbers that represent unfeasible levels of power.

The Brabus Bullit 800 is one of the – if not the – most powerful luxury cars on the market. As if the horsepower figure wasn’t impressive enough the way it delivers that power certainly is, with 811lb/ft of torque on tap. It’s a brutally effective shape.

It’s the same story with the Rocket 800. At the front it looks like it’s challenging the air to a fight with its massive air intakes and enormous B-for-Brabus badge; from the rear, the swooping lines lead back to a more tapered, softer tail, balanced by the rear wing and quad exhausts.

Their take on the SLS and A-Class had similar battle-mutant looks, though the softer side could be seen through the rather more tasteful swatch packs for interior trim choices.

Perhaps this is the only thing that could catch a Brabus road-car, should one ever accidentally stray outside the boundaries of the law?…

Over on Toyota’s stand, their rival heavy artillery in the high-end saloon market was the newly unveiled Lexus TS-650.

The TS-650 has a five-litre bi-turbo engine producing almost 650hp; a top speed of around 200mph and a sub-four second 0-60mph time are expected.

The wind-tunnel-tuned aerodynamics give this big car a deceptively low-line look, though it does weigh in at a hefty 2,000kg. Underneath all the carbon bodywork is a Torsen rear differential, uprated multi-link suspension and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes. The brakes nestle behind 10J rims at the front which mount 275/35R20 rubber; 12J wheels and 345/30R20 are at the rear. Although this very much looks like it would be more at home on the Autobahn, if you were crazy enough to take it onto a track Toyota have developed even wider 295/35R20 rubber for the front to help with front-end grip.

Naturally, there were huge numbers of Porsches all around the show. Relatively unmolested classics and modern era cars are one thing…

…but of course Essen wouldn’t be Essen with a proliferation of utterly crazed Porsche-based reinventions. The GT9 VMax is the latest out-there development from 9FF.

This car does not aim low: the Veyron was the target, and the stats say that the VMax could have Bugatti owners crying into their W16. The flat six 4.2-litre twin-turbo in the VMax has a boost pressure of two bar and produces 1,400hp at 7,950rpm. Tie that up with 1,160Nm of torque at 5,600 rpm, and driving this will make sky diving through the atmosphere seem like slow-motion.

Streamliner aero and fared wheel covers whose style enter into Land Speed Record territory should help the VMax reach a projected top speed of 437kph. The rubber is a special development by Continental, needed to handle the vicious acceleration: 300kph arrives in just 13 seconds… Testing is still underway, with the first major running due early next year. This is a car to keep a close eye on!

Gemballa’s Mirage GT is based on the Carrera GT-980; the uprated V10, revised aero and hard-top will mean that it could perhaps keep up with the VMax for the first four seconds at least…

Back to more grounded Porsche territory. Speedart had new roadster and coupé models out, based on the 981 Boxster and 991 Carrera S respectively. As with the GT86, it’s incredible how quickly the specialist tuners will create their own versions of brand new models.

However, for the Porsche purist in me there is a question mark over the value of these kind of cars. The extreme takes on Porsches at least take the spirit of the 911 and push it to (and past) the boundaries. But are colour-coded wheels and small trim tweaks really improving on something which is already a beacon of quality?

Back in the largest hall, the central displays contained a range of concept cars that have been released over the last couple of years – cars that often only get a single showing to the public. Some are so downright ugly that it was easy to ignore them…

Others were more fun in their design – like this VW that took yacht-club cues from the Fiat Jollys of the ’50s.

The jelly-mould Mercedes wasn’t doing it for us…

…unlike the GT By Citroën concept. Following its unveiling in 2008 there were plans for half a dozen cars to be produced, but the run was seemingly cancelled in 2010, making the sight of this unique car even more special.

Just a metre high – squashed flat as if by the pressure of air – the GT looked even more extreme than their Onyx concept that was unveiled in Paris this year. In the background, you can see that Citroën also supplied the Tubik MPV.

From the rear the V8-powered GT has a dual personality: a softened Aventador look around the outside vents and huge carbon diffuser, framing the protruding, shark-like stern.

Another car I was thrilled to see in the flesh was the racing version of the Giugaro Brivido concept, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show at the beginning of the year. I’m naturally biased towards anything in a Martini livery, but I still think that the combination of classic racing car lines and hyper-modern styling looks great. Blacked-out windows give away the likely fact that this is just a rolling chassis, but still…

If only we could see this on a GT grid!

Once again putting our feet back on the ground: Ford tuning is big business in Germany, with the Focus and Fiesta models ripe for modification.

Surprisingly, GT-Rs were less well represented than we’ve seen at most shows this year…

…perhaps usurped by the more achievable GT86 variants.

My GPS recorded eight miles of walking round the show in a single day: so, there’s still an awful lot of turbos and rims, hot rods and racers, classics and legends to come.
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Старый 07.12.2012   #2
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По умолчанию

Racing is in Germany’s blood: since the pre-war days facing up to the big three of France, Italy and Great Britain, the Silver Arrows have been pounding the opposition on the tracks around the world for over 80 years. The 2012 Essen Motor Show put on a special display of sportscars in Hall 3 celebrating the rebirth of the World Sportscars in its modern guise as the FIA World Endurance Championship, which showed off four decades of stunning cars – including this pair of Sauber-Mercedes Group C behemoths.

Around the show you could also find the oldest ’50s sportscar and newest hybrid-powered Le Mans Prototype…

…and plenty more besides hiding around every corner across the other halls. Motorsport has been fully embraced by the Essen Motor Show and now permeates every aspect of it.

But Essen isn’t just about the celebration of old racers – on the contrary, the special historic exhibits just backed up the real thrust of the show: to promote modern motorsport to the hundreds of thousands of fans who will pour through the gates of Messe Essen over its nine-day show period.

Not that visitors looked like they needed much convincing… This is a sentiment that I very much agree with.

Along with the display area for classic racers, a second major hall was dedicated to every conceivable form of contemporary motorsport available in Germany.

Hill-climbing, Time Attack, drifting, single seaters, touring cars, multiple levels of GT racing – everything was there to sample and sign up to, presented by a combination of racecar manufacturers, series organisers and the major German tracks.

Want to take an old DTM racecar hill-climbing?

Or jump in the new trackday-prepped GT86 CS-V3 that’s just been launched in Germany? If you wanted to get racing, then Hall 6 was the place to be.

More high-end racecars decorated booths throughout the show. It became a normal occurrence to wander past a McLaren MP4-12C GT3 on a paint stand…

…and it seemed like almost every Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 so far constructed was in Essen, spread across the halls like racing confetti.

Brand new racecars like Reiter Engineering’s Camaro GT3 could be admired up close. The Camaro first appeared this year in the ADAC GT Masters series in the hands of Yaco Racing, who are planning to mount a two-car attack with the US musclecar in 2013.

Although there’s still a lot of politics to iron out in global GT racing, GT3 is still an incredibly strong category when the correct format is used: just look at GT Masters and the Blancpain Endurance series. GT3 racers tick all the boxes for me: a great mix of engines and body shapes, oversized aero and ridiculously big rear wings. The Camaro has a 7.9-litre V8, perfectly highlighting how the more open rules in GT3 allow a wide range of cars to be developed for the series.

Sponsorship is of course important: and what better combination than meat and beer? The perfect car for the Nürburgring 24 Hours!

Having not caught up with the DTM this year except on TV, the quantity of 2012 cars at Essen was a great opportunity to check out the latest generation of DTM track weaponry in detail.

BMW’s Bruno Spengler took the championship after a hard-fought season; the front of his BMW M3 looks positively architectural with its stepped, spiralling front aero appendages.

From low down you can see how advanced these cars are, and why drivers so often compare them to single-seaters with roofs. Tunnels under the nose channel air to the complex aero at the sides of the cars – and according to the revised rules these are theoretically simpler constructions than previously allowed! Looking at this you wouldn’t believe it.

That said, although the front and side aero is still awash with winglets, louvres and tunnels the rear of the cars is definitely more simplistic: sculpted rear vents from the wheel arches along with deep diffusers and smaller rear wings. They are incredible-looking racecars: it’s just a shame that so few tracks show them off to their best and let them stretch their legs.

Although Porsche are of course synonymous with Germany’s racing success, Mercedes-Benz have an even longer history. We’ve seen this 300 SEL 6.8 AMG a couple of times recently: Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz drove it to a class victory and second place overall at the 1971 Spa 24 Hours. What an example of taking a saloon, dropping it, adding enormous rubber and plumbing in a ridiculously big engine. I’m glad to see that this is still the basic premise for so many modern racing cars.

The DTM has featured some amazing cars over the years, like the 1990 Mercedes AMG 190 Evo II. This car now runs in the Nordschleife-based VLN series, which in itself allows drivers to enjoy a huge spectrum of old and new racecars around the legendary track.

DriftUnited had strong representation on their stand: it’s not often you see a drift spec E21, especially not one with a shovel wing that looked like it was straight out of 1970s Group 5.

Next door, a Z4 had somehow squeezed a dayglo V10 Viper unit into its nose…

…whilst this nearby VLN Viper showed the V10 in its natural habitat.
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Старый 07.12.2012   #3
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По умолчанию

I know everyone loves Viper engine transplants, but you can’t beat a Viper engine in its proper place. It’s an industrial-scale weapons complex that deserves a suitably oversize environment to operate in.

Over on the KW stand, Fredric Aasbø’s Toyota 86-X was on display behind suspension-mounted ropes – a nice touch!

The ultra-wide front rubber and extreme camber still makes me gasp every time I see it… What a car! Hopefully we’ll see it out even more frequently in 2013.

Backing on to Hall 6 was the Motorsport Arena: a fearsomely tight course laid out on the slippery hall surface where a wide selection of racers and drifters could show off to the crowds.

Some cars apparently required serious ballast to help with control around the narrow course.

Remmo Niezen and Lars Verbraeken, stars of Ken Block’s recent European Gymkhana event, were wowing everyone in their Falken BMWs.

How about this for an unexpected track-day car? It was packing some serious firepower under the hood. We need to find out more about it! Imagine this at Gatebil…

Back to Hall 3 and the World Sportscar Championship displays: a visual history of the evolution of sportscar racing across the decades.

Ferrari’s hand-built V12-powered 250MM (MM for Mille Miglia) was entered into the debut year for the WSC, 1953, which included such tough events as Mexico’s Carrera Panamericana road race, the Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia itself.

Although the ’50s were awash with iconic cars, the Mercedes 300SLR could be said to top them all, especially in Mille Miglia livery.

Jaun Manuel Fangio piloted #658 in the 1955 running of the Mille Miglia: driving solo for a thousand miles (hence the fared-in passenger seat), he finished second to the Stirling Moss/Denis Jenkinson sister car, just 30 minutes in arrears.

Jaguars, Aston Martins and Maseratis then led on to a 1968 Ford GT40 in the epic powder blue and orange livery of Gulf Oil.

Gulf sponsorship transferred with the JWA team to Porsche, creating the definitive pin-up look for the 1970 917.

The Ferrari 512 is often overlooked when looking back at that era, but I think it’s easily the equal of the 917 in aesthetic terms – even more so as the S rather than in the straighter lines of the later 512M. Making it even more special, this is an ex-Mario Andretti car.

These three cars pretty much sum up the perfection of a decade of racing. Does it get better than this? (Well, there are the Group Cs to come…)

Short-wheelbase roadsters ruled in the mid-70s: screaming pocket-rockets like the three-litre V8 Alfa Romeo T33TT from 1975 and accompanying Matra MS670 from 1973.

For the sake of chronology, I’ll take a brief diversion to Porsche’s 50th Anniversary stand in Hall 1, where Kremer Racing had brought along this K3 – we featured this awesome car back in September, plus a tour of Kremer’s workshop.

Porsche’s dominant 956/962 series of the early to mid-’80s was represented by this Primagaz 962C from 1987.

Jaguar’s XJR-9LM was the winning car in the 1988 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours…

…but then we had two more heart-stopping examples of German racing technology (or Swiss-German, to be more accurate): firstly 1989′s Sauber-Mercedes C9, with its C11 sister next up.

Both cars have been run in the Historic Group C challenge over the last couple of years: I’ve been lucky enough to see them racing twice in 2012, at Le Mans and also at the Donington Historic Festival back in the Spring. They are phenomenal to watch on track – and even more so to hear.

They’re such raw cars: the plain, functional liveries makes them look even more brutally efficient. It’s the kind of extreme racing machine that anyone can appreciate.

The Mercedes-Benz C11 came on stream the following year. It’s an even more shark-like car, and the performance was similarly predatory: the C11 swept the 1990 WSC, winning all but one race.

Book-ending the WSC, 40 years on from the 1953 Ferrari, was the Peugeot 905B from 1992 – the final year of the original glorious run of the WSC. This was the ultimate evolution of a prototype sportscar: Formula 1 levels of performance and even more technology. The huge rear wing is so far off the back that it’s virtually in a different country, and they produced epic levels of downforce. More spaceship than sportscar.

Although the World Championship was temporarily incapacitated, the following years were hardly lean for sportscars: how can anyone pass over the mighty McLaren F1 GTR, Mercedes CLR and Porsche GT1 from FIA GT of the late ’90s?

But in 2012, 20 years after it last ran, there was once again a World Championship for sportscars. Audi might have run away with the overall title, but with the speed of their TS030 Hybrid newcomers Toyota have shown that 2013 will be no walk in the park for the Four Rings. Expect a serious arms race over the winter.

Rallying is as popular as ever, particularly at a national level. Alongside Kremer’s 935s and the GT1 on Porsche’s anniversary stand was this 953 from the 1984 Paris-Dakar rally, driven to victory by René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne. Legendary all-rounder and multiple Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx drove a second 911SC that year…

…and another, rather less familiar Mercedes rally-raid off-roader also driven by Ickx was over at the Mercedes FanWorld display. His name was also on several of the sportscars in the WSC display – he really was an incredibly adaptable driver.

Upstairs in the auto-jumble area, more car clubs were crammed in – I have a soft spot for Stig Blomqvist’s Saab 96 from the ’60s…

…and back downstairs in the ADAC hall (Germany’s automobile club, and organiser of most major racing series in the country) the new Polo R rally-car that will compete in next year’s World Rally Championship was on display.

So, old to new and back again: Essen’s racing heart was clear to see. Next up we’ll focus on the tuned cars and the awesome selection of hot rods.
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Старый 07.12.2012   #4
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По умолчанию

We feature an awful lot of images of cars here on Speedhunters. As event after event rolls round, it’s rather easy to get caught up with the excitement of seeing another fantastic car that you know deserves a shot in a story, and worry about getting the clearest image possible of the whole car. But often that means missing out on the details, the aspects that either make a car special or which simply tick an aesthetic box.

With the public out in force, our second day at the Essen Motor Show was the perfect opportunity to focus in closer – to start picking out the little details on cars that caught our eye. It could be a weathered badge…

…or something even more rustic.

Quite often there’s one small detail that tells you everything you need to know about a car, or a signature style that identifies the brand well before the crowd around it have moved aside to reveal the full object.

Other times the details tell you what the purpose of an otherwise regular-looking car is. The depth a wheel sits in its arch; the positioning of an exhaust. Even something as innocuous as a spring-catch can give away a lot about the manner in which a car is planned to be driven.

Our eyes naturally look for lines and symmetry: it’s something we’re taught from an early age. Perhaps this is why some cars always seem more naturally aesthetic, and how certain liveries immediately convey a certain visual emotion.

Textures and materials also tell us a lot. Ornate chrome grills and badges were a sign of quality before being seen as kitsch and old-fashioned, to be replaced by alloys and plastics.

Maybe it was just how tedious it could be keeping the metalwork in good condition?

Lightweight carbon-fibre would seem to be the new chrome – an expression of the material itself, inferring quality and expense, and like chrome increasingly left in its raw form.

Wheels have always had a special place in the heart of car enthusiasts. Your wheels can tell people about your taste as much as the car itself. How many times have great cars been ruined with a poor choice of wheel? Conversely, good wheels can lift an average car up, metaphorically as well as physically.

Wheels can be beautiful, multi-layered examples of circular sculpture. Essen was like an art gallery of roundels.

In the classic era it was frequently the challenge of providing lightweight, radial stiffness in the face of limited metallurgical solutions that led to complex, ornate designs. Beauty through necessity.

Nowadays, modern techniques and the strength of materials allow wheels to be playgrounds for designers, and artistic for art’s sake. Flowing and organic shapes are no longer confined just to bodywork.

As with most automotive technologies, it’s racing that has pushed the boundaries with wheels. The battered rear rim from the Toyota TS030 Hybrid tells a story in itself – of extreme speed, quick-fire pitstops and day-long wheel to wheel combat…

Racing wheels don’t have to be complex in shape – they’re a direct reaction to the conditions they operate in. In NASCAR, the wheels may hardly appear streamlined – or indeed modern – but they’re designed to carry a fearsomely heavy car at constant speeds of over 200mph whilst simultaneously withstanding the wheel-rubbing close racing and staying in one piece around a super-speedway. Aero: this way.

From air in the tyres to air under the car. This 1974 Audi 100 was lavish with opportunities for picking out details – whether the air tanks in the boot…

…or the car’s external accessories. If your car is slammed, why not your deck too?!

It was the same story with the ’32 Sedan hot rod in the Galeria display area. Each pass would reveal another little detail, like the piston engine mounts.

Sometimes what’s on the inside of a wheel that can be just as intriguing – though it’s an area rarely on show in the majority of cars. Hot rod wheels and suspension are rich in form – it’s interesting just following through the solutions of packaging steering, brakes and suspension in directions that were never originally planned for.

Seeing such amazing hot rods at Essen completely reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the scene: I’m just not used to seeing this kind of quality in Europe – though I obviously just haven’t been looking hard enough. Are hot rods the purist expression of automotive detailing?

I’ve always been captivated by number panels on historic racers, whether the painted-on numerals on grills of pre-war racers or the bold and oversize time-related start numbers on Mille Miglia cars.

Modern series decals just don’t have this level of style, with sponsors and TV now dictating the positioning and size of stickers.

You can barely see the numbers on modern F1 cars! Like racks of magazine covers in a shop, modern race car liveries can present an overwhelming mess of colours and conflicting shapes. Pull back; simplify. The results are always far more eye-catching, as I think a lot of the cars shown here demonstrate even in close-up.

Even old school stickers are icons of understated design.

Like the angular intake and hexagon grill near the top of this story, sometimes you don’t need to see much to immediately recognise what you’re looking at.

The side exhausts, gun-metal finish and simple number panels on the Group C Sauber-Mercedes provide such stark images: the small dents and grazes attest to the fact that these racecars are still alive and kicking.

Exhausts might not normally be the most attractive of things in general, but I think they can have have a functional elegance about them.

Inside the recessed tail of the Porsche GT1, the straight exhausts nestle next to one of the few parts of the car that had any relation to the original 911 it was based on: its rear lights. The new Porsche 918 Spyder also has the Made In Flacht sticker – it’s a testament to the home of Porsche Motorsport (it’s the less well known neighbouring town to Weissach, and actually nearer the test track).

Smokey pipes. Battle damage. Scrapes. Tank tape. Zombie-staples. There’s something about a competition car that has seen active service. In the same style, I’m a big fan of teams who take their Le Mans-winning cars on tour still sporting the dirt and damage that 24 hours of racing inflicts.

On road cars, exhausts can be more sculptural, having to deal with less extreme operating conditions.

On hot rods, exhausts become aesthetic as much as aural accoutrements – with only the floor suffering the consequences.

Even the different approaches taken to securing wing and gurney angles can be interesting.

Modern racers utilise an ordered arrangement of pre-defined holes, which means a more scientific and structured approach can be taken. Repeatability, rather than finger in the wind.

Whilst we’re on that level of macro detail, how about intakes and vents? The rounded trapezoid side vent and its harsh blades on the C11 again have an industrial architecture feel.

Le Mans Prototypes now feature extremely complex air-shaping fins around their virtual-single seater cockpit sections: the interlocking, armour-like carbon surfaces channel air between the wheel sponsons and monocoque.

At the rear, tower-blocks of vents feed that air out of the back of the car and into the open.

Computational power rather than a pencil now pushes automotive design. I wonder if efficiency comes at the price of aesthetics, where modern supercars can be more impressive in the terms of geometric industrial design rather than as works of sculptural art? Are people too obsessed with the detail?

But it’s easy to be too serious about cars sometimes, rather than just to enjoy them both as a whole and in detail. Again, maybe it’s the hot rod scene that can teach everyone something about what it is to appreciate a car.

Thankfully shows like Essen allow you to get up close to a myriad of styles, where what’s wrong and right is subjective – and frequently ironic.

After all, perhaps the devil is in the detail?
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