The annual Essen Motor Show is to Germany what the Las Vegas SEMA show is to the U.S. The Essen show is the No. 1 automotive show in Germany, garnering more than 400,000 attendees. Running for ten days straight, this massive event with 18 halls features a wide range of automotive enthusiast markets. This year's show focused on the past, present and future of automobiles. Over 560 exhibitors from twenty-some countries showed up. Exhibitions included manufacturers' premieres; the "world's leading fair of the tuning sector;" old timers and classic cars; a retrospective on the Le Mans 24-hour race with twenty of the winning cars since 1924 on display; concept cars; fixed up cars from the U.S.; artist-designed cars that look more like sculptures; lowriders; dragsters; monster trucks; racing tractors; racing and show motorcycles; and Formula 1 vehicles. There was also a model racing track and a Suzuki Urban Challenge off-road course.
With so many different vehicles on display it was hard to decide which ones to show here with our limited space. Should we show the world's lowest car at just 54 centimeters high? How about a dragster fire engine truck? We ultimately decided to show you cool concept cars that aren't available in the U.S. Even though we can't buy them stateside, sometimes it's cool to see what other countries have to offer. Consider these concept cars, studies and prototypes as representing the haute couture of automobile construction.
First up is what I like to call The Egg. Otherwise known as the Peugeot Moovie, it was the winner of the "La Griffe" design competition, which had the motto: "Design your tomorrow's dream Peugeot today." The victorious design from Andre Costa (Portuguese) offers space for two people and is shaped like a small submarine. Both the swiveling doors simultaneously serve as wheels for locomotion. Two swiveling spheres at the front are intended to make the Moovie extremely maneuverable. Large window surfaces and gently curved cockpit elements in two shades of yellow dominate in the interior.
Our next favorite of Essen's design studies on display is the Sbarro GT.C1, which I think looks like a great tuner car. Reminiscent of a Scion xA or a Toyota Yaris, it has the rounded miniature stature of a pint-size street cruiser. It's based on the Citron C1, and is a dope mini-speedster. The sporty GT.C1 is equipped with side sills, a martial front apron with a large radiator opening and gull-wing doors. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine supplies 125 hp, which, in view of its 900 kg weight, should be sufficient for impressive driving performances.
Last but not least is the Rinspeed zaZen, which is a Porsche that I'd throw in my garage any day. An unusual name for an unusual concept car from Frank Rinderknecht (Swiss), who said: "Because Zen, borrowed from the Buddhist doctrine, is ultimately a special form of knowledge. Only those people who are willing to let go of preconceived ideas can attain it." OK, we're right there with you. The car was built together with Bayer Material-Science, which is based in Leverkusen, Germany. One-part of the roof dome is made of Makrolon material, which comes from Bayer, one of the largest plastics manufacturers in the world. The transparent material becomes opaque at the push of a button. A third stoplight is invisibly embedded in the roof dome. It looks like it's shining from the transparent plastic hood. The car has mineral-white paintwork into which "millions of small, noble Swarovski crystals" have been incorporated. More importantly, there's Porsche technology inside of this one. It has a Carrera S. 3.8-litre six-cylinder horizontally opposed engine with 355 hp, a top speed of 293 km/h, and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds.
Hopefully these three concept cars sparked your interest enough to attend the Essen Motor Show next year if you plan on visiting Germany to check out the tasty lager, the friendly fruleins and, oh yeah, the humongous car show.