Razzmatazz, amazing concepts, decorative personnel and eye-watering budgets… this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show certainly didn’t deviate from the traditional attention-grabbing recipe. Here’s the thing, though: away from the glitz and glamour of the headliners, there’s often tasty, quirky eye candy to be found in the minor halls and specialist displays.
For instance, the anonymous escalator down from the upper level of Hall 5 is the Frankfurt equivalent of King’s Cross Station Platform 9 ¾. Only the escalator transports you, not to Hogwarts, but into car designer’s hell. Here, aftermarket specialists tune and tweak otherwise perfectly good vehicles to within an inch of their lives. No genre is spared, be it supercar or golf cart.
At the other end of the showgrounds, where German car giants occupy entire buildings, another escalator leads towards the smell of ancient lubricating oil, rubber, leather and sweat. The aroma hovers almost visibly around a melancholy little tribe of old-timers. The group is ambitiously labelled a special exhibition.
Close by, VIP panel vans – fabulously appointed, but panel vans nonetheless – sport seven-figure price tags. And it’s those VIP vans that we feature in Part 1 of Motor show memories: the wild, the wicked and the just plain weird. From the house of Klassen Car Design Technology, they feature plump leather armchairs and wood panelling with a lustre so deep you could drown in it. Giant video monitors are standard issue. How much? “The Sprinter? About 300 000.” Euros, that is. A smaller van on the other end of the stand, a Mercedes-Benz Viano, is about three times the price. Why? “That one has to be modified. Like a limo. Stretched.”
For the record, your bus can be ordered with B6 or B7 level armour. The latter is capable of withstanding 7,62 mm armour-piercing rounds from machine guns.