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Ode to a bygone era – the IAA Frankfurt Car show is dead

I have been making frequent pilgrimages to this semi-annual event since 1985, including today.

Gone is the grandeur of the powerful German makes displaying their newest models and show cars, complete with engine models and tons of visitors crowding the stands.

Back in 1985 – when Volkswagen unveiled the Golf Gen 2, the world stopped to take notice. It was a big deal!

Not so today. Take Mercedes for example, I almost didn’t recognize their hall when I walked in. This normally decked out space was a mere shadow of itself. Empty uncovered bleachers were visible where ornate displays once stood. I counted a total of 8 cars on display- the rest was virtual reality games and autonomous driving on an ice rink – how real World is that I wonder.

While much smaller than in past years, BMW’s space was innovative and showed courage of its brand design direction. Even though the space is now shared with Opel, Hyundai and Jaguar, there was a vibe at least and lots of cars and technology on display.

Chief among them the controversial BMW 4 series concept ( see photo’s above).

In the end, dropping attendance and a shift by car makers to more controllable events like Pebble Beach are nailing the coffin of car shows closed.

I am glad I got to witness the fantastic days of car shows and I will cherish them. Electrification is tge way to go yet, I will forever remain a petrol head.

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