By the end of the event, in around 10 days time, approximately 1,000 exhibitors from 44 countries will have participated in one of the most important motor shows of the year. Glamour models, disco lights, drinks and canapés - it was tough out there but the Classic Driver team was on hand to record all the news.
Our round-up begins in Hall 5 with the Italians. Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo launched the revisions to the 612 Scaglietti for 2006 (chiefly more interior colour options and the ability to option the GTC handling package), as well as the debut of the Ferrari F430 Challenge racing car, ready for the 2006 season where it will compete alongside the current 360. No news of an equivalent ‘track day’ road car to equal the outgoing 360 Challenge Stradale.
Maserati, a company whose close links with Ferrari are being gradually removed, showed the latest versions of their flagship Quattroporte labelled "Sport GT" and "Executive GT", as well as the previously unavailable Spyder version of the wonderful GranSport. They also received top marks from us for the quality of their catering...
Over at Porsche’s stand it was function and form before anything else. No nightclub hostesses for the launch of their new Cayman S, just simple engineering excellence, quality and style. Our first impressions of the car confirm it really has bridged the gap between Boxster and 911.
Also in Hall 5 was Rolls-Royce, showing their Long Wheelbase Phantom, and alongside the Goodwood-based bespoke manufacturer was parent company BMW, with a selection of debuting models from itself or British subsidiary MINI. The Z4 Coupé looked superb in the satin silver finish, the colour well set-off by the dark wheels, while MINI’s little Traveller was a cute car in white. BMW also had the new 650Ci and 3 Series Touring on their stand.
The ‘neighbours’, in Hall 3, were the Volkswagen family. Top honours went to Ingolstadt, Audi premiering the Q7 SUV and its new hybrid engine, a motor that will be used by VW and Porsche in years to come. Lamborghini chose the avant-garde route, the pitch-black stand emphasising the brilliant white Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, with its 520 HP and 314 km/h maximum speed the company is expecting to win some sales from arch-rivals at Maranello.
British elegance was represented by Bentley with their new 6.75 litre Azure convertible, while Jaguar was showing its latest XK Coupé (the convertible only having been just announced ) in silver and classic British Racing Green. Aston Martin presented its ‘entry car’, the eagerly-awaited V8 Vantage.
DaimlerChrysler traditionally books the Festival Hall for its products and 2005 was no exception. The most important premiere was the Mercedes Benz S-Class, however the company achieved a big hit with the matt grey Mercedes Benz R 63 AMG concept, its 510 bhp and arresting looks providing copy for a lot of journalists present. Looking like a dinosaur from the Frankfurter Senckenbergmuseum, the Maybach Exelero concept was placed near to nervous-looking B- and C-Classes.
The highpoint of the whole extravaganza was in Hall 1.2 where the tuning, and design concept cars were shown. The most interesting was probably the Fenomenon Stratos, painted in Alitalia colours as homage to its 1970s namesake. Fisker Coachbuild’s Latigo and Tramonta were also debuting, and the designs in the metal looked a little ordinary. A fact not reflected in their price.
Also in Hall 1.2, Mansory were showing their lightened and tuned Bentley Continental GT, together with a version of the new Flying Spur and an Aston Martin DB9 with gull wing doors - all finished in black of course. And who couldn’t mention Brabus this year, with their unbelievable 730 bhp Rocket based on Mercedes CLS four-door coupé? Newcomers BF Performance were showing a "Sportversion" of the Lamborghini Murciélago, and are promising a tuned Bugatti Veyron at next year’s Geneva Salon. We can’t wait...
Photo Gallery - Nanette Schärf
Photo Gallery - Jan Baedeker
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