The ninetieth rendition of the Geneva Motor Show, billed as Europe’s largest, is almost upon us. It seems barely five minutes since the last one.
Several manufacturers have chosen not to play this time. Bats and balls safely stored away. Lamborghini are preferring to chose more bespoke events to launch models. The PSA combine, which these days includes nearly ever other car on the road it seems, are staying home with the fire turned up to the third bar. JLR are most definitely not leaving Blighty either, an odd decision for when new Def’ner is almost ready to be purchased.
I’m Positive that the venue will remain lavish and brightly lit (having never been, this is of course my estimation), with excellent fare for the chosen few along with some bocadillos and lattes for the great unwashed. I expect the footfall to be high. GIMS, who run the Palexpo reckon over 600,000 for the ten days. They also promise that over 900 cars will be exposed which borders on the risqué, along with the ECotY brigade on show.
As a first, an indoor circuit offering a ten minute drive round a 460 metre long track in an eco-car will surely cause bottlenecks of prospective punters. Expectant children with parents hoping ‘for a go’. Track central has a meeting area with room for three hundred humans. I’m guessing they won’t be there for the racing.
Perhaps mum admires the new Fiat 500 electric? Dad may prefer to drool over the Koenigseggs or the string of other supercars not previously known to mankind whilst surreptitiously eyeing the girls on the stands. Whereas Josh (9) and Astrid (7 and a quarter) will be photographing everything with their smartphones, eager to post them all on social media, including the pictures obscured by a thumb as someone brushes into them as they click the shutter. There may be tears and placating chocolate. There will be sore feet if the Palexpo resembles the British NEC for acreage shuffled, no seating and nigh on a thousand motors to see.
Undoubtedly, many will enjoy what’s on offer. Mercedes are bringing the GT73 that has over 800bhp. Handy for aggressively fetching the Sunday papers. Ferrari might just bring their new Roma GT out to play but haven’t confirmed their attendance as yet. It does look nice. But for the delegate, journalist or the catered for by DTW – The Enthusiast, what exactly is there to tempt, tease or terrify us? With my only connection to this esteemed show being AutoCropley and www.gims.swiss sites, the bias is arguably biased towards little more than a bun-fight.
Stepping back in time, my late teens to early twenties, the anticipation felt on heading to the NEC was palpable. I expected to see the exotic, the foreign, the full works. My derrière looked forward to sitting in a Porsche, a Rolls-Royce, a Montego or a Lada. This was the late ’80’s-early nineties, remember.
My father and I would happily queue for the briefest moment with these cars we would not normally see. Targeting the bigger and more popular marques required planning and cunning. Get in early and ignore the stand guard. Should the rope deny access, move on to the next stand and plan a return sortie for that hallowed brochure. Swipe stuff on the hoof and should the opportunity arise, grab it.
A bag with a pen or sticker, or some kind of extra information inside was the holy grail – we wanted to return to our Metro exhausted and the boot groaning under the weight of literature gleaned. Mission successfully accomplished three times. Earned some stripes, there. Home consumption of this tree-unfriendly material lasted weeks. As did the usual cold from all those great unwashed in air conditioned captivity. Splendid.
Back to the future and the soon to be show. Barring facelifts and updates, what will hold the families interest? Those supercars available for telephone number price tags are forever a crowd pleaser. There’ll be touchscreens aplenty for mucky fingers and one expects an army of cleaners (in facemasks) to sanitise them.
For The Enthusiast, looking deeply into construction methods, power supplies, shut lines and perceived quality, can we get excited over dozens of German re-hashes of old favourites? In a word, no. This show appears to be facelift central. And lots of electric carriages, obviously. Has the industry that we so avidly follow got anything new for us? From my screen, sitting a thousand miles away from all those meetings, clandestine deals, the nine hundred exposés and zillion photos, it’s easy for me to say no. Because in reality, these eyes can find nowt new. How big a gaffe is that?
I truly hope that the families, the working person taking time off to visit, and those romantic dreamers with starry eyes like mine thirty years ago, are able to take something away from attending. Even if the brochures no longer exist.
Editor’s note: Assuming the Geneva show goes ahead (and at the time of going to press we hear that it will), we will be covering the highlights courtesy of regular contributors, Christopher Butt and Robertas Parazitas. We extend our grateful thanks in anticipation to them both.