A further nostalgic journey through motor shows past, courtesy of Bruno Vijverman and his Nikons.
A surprise debut that year by Bentley’s Continental R; the car was brought to Switzerland in secret and driven onto the stand. In those pre-internet days, you could still organise something like this without being caught out by a blogger’s camera phone.
Alfa Romeo provided a preview of the upcoming 916 series GTV and Spider with the Proteo concept car. It was built on a shortened 164 platform and featured four wheel drive as well as then very much en vogue four wheel steering. Meanwhile, the Chubasco was centre point of the Maserati display; the Gandini-styled V8 mid engined sportscar was set to go on sale in 1992 but never reached production owing to a lack of finances.
Like the earlier Mégane concept, 1991’s Scénic concept (styled by Anne Asensio) was quite a bit more innovative than the eventual production car that would bear both names. The Scénic concept featured one sliding door on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side. Nevertheless, the production Mégane Scénic would prove to be instrumental in opening up a whole new market segment.
Kolbermoor-based Lotec, known for ultra-exclusive Mercedes-Benz powered supercars and Group C racers, had the gall to display this W126 based monstrosity, named Ambassador, on their stand in Frankfurt. I nearly choked on my Ferrero Rocher. Full marks for creativity in recycling old Citroën GS taillights though! The last photo requires no comment other than that it illustrates the perks of being there on a press day, when all the lovely girls are still present.
A view from the first floor into the original Palexpo main hall before it was enlarged just about where the banner “L’auto: moteur de l’économie” ends.
At first this extension made sense, but with the disappearance of several major exhibitors over the past few years it seems to have outlived its usefulness. As has – I fear – the whole concept of the traditional motor show.
It is not every day that a famous nameplate is resurrected, so Bugatti put a lot of effort into it with its marble-floored stand. They handed out lavish
hardcover brochure/magazines which was of course right up my alley.
The Hyundai HCD-1, an early concept car by the Korean firm which was at the time not yet the force it is now. The car was styled by Hyundai’s California design studio (hence the HCD name) and was an early predictor of what the Korean giant’s future intentions.
Can you imagine this scene at current German-owned Lamborghini? Back then touching up a minor imperfection with a lick of paint was considered good enough.
Ford’s Ghia Focus concept, with a face that reminded me of what you might find in the darker corners of your local fishmarket, was credited to designer
Taru Lahti under the guidance of Camile Pardo and based on Escort Cosworth RS Turbo mechanicals. The steampunk avant la lettre dash was quite interesting though.
The Mercedes-Benz Coupé concept being revealed to the press; it accurately predicted the later production CLK, its glass roof however would not make it
past the concept phase. Fiat’s radical electric Downtown concept styled by Chris Bangle- did it influence the Smart ForTwo? Also, its C-pillar treatment would appear decades later in cars such as the Opel Adam.
Porsche’s Boxster concept was a hit with public and press alike; it’s regrettable the production version lost many of the delightful details (look at those propellers in the vents!) resulting in a comparatively weak facsimile.
Audi’s ASF (Aluminium Space Frame) concept was little more than a production-ready A8 with a polished bare aluminium body as done earlier with the Avus concept. And to close this episode- here’s one of the quintessential DTW cars: the Jaguar XJS in an unusual light green metallic that I don’t recall often seeing on the road. As can be observed, even late in its life it still generated photographic interest from the press corps.
One last matter: Can anyone identify the pretty little roadster in the lead image? I usually write make, model and location on the back of the photo but as luck would have it, this one has remained blank… over to you.