What struck me while walking around on the Geneva Auto Show floor, was that a number of brands decided not only to display their newest models, but also one (or in one case: a few) vintage car to remind the visitors of their heritage.
Ford was the most notable of all, showing a GT40 next to the strikingly good looking 2015 GT, which showed how small the original GT40 was, or how big cars have grown since. Ford also had a Sierra XR4, a classic Mustang Fastback next to the all-new Mustang, which will finally be officially sold in Europe as well, and an Escort Mexico to show the historical roots of the growling Focus RS.
With the P1 GTR, 650S Le Mans and the 675LT all debuting in Geneva, you’d think McLaren has more than enough new cars to fill up their entire stand, but they still found some space to add a 1997 McLaren F1 GT Longtail as well, to celebrate the arrival of the 675LT, where LT is short for Long Tail. That Longtail is one of the rarest and therefore most valuable McLarens ever and makes a visit to the McLaren stand worth your while. The brand even has uncovered the “secrets” of the F1 GT Longtail in a special webpage.
Just a few steps further, the Bugatti stand not only features the 450th unique, Special Edition Veyron, unsurprisingly named “La Finale”, but also its 10-year old first Special Edition, number 001. The first-ever Veyron was painted in red and black, had a solid roof and its W16 engine pumped out 1.014 hp, while the last-ever unit of the world’s fastest production car features a black-and-red carbon fiber shell, has an open roof and, being a Grand Sport Vitesse, weighs in at 1.200 hp. We’ll probably have to wait until the Frankfurt Auto Show to hear Bugatti’s official plans for a replacement to the Veyron.
Long-gone German luxury car maker Borgward had announced its return after being dead for more than 50 years, but instead of revealing their all-new model, the Borgward stand only featured their all-new logo, and a 1950s Isabella coupe, together with promises of revealing an actual car at the Frankfurt Auto Show in the fall. Christian Borgward, the son of the company’s founder, has very ambitious plans for a line-up of premium “e-mobility” vehicles. For now it’s unknown whether this translates into electric cars or Plug-in Hybrids, but with the financial backing of Chinese automaker Beiqi-Foton and with Elon Musk proving that it is indeed possible to build a successful alternative-powertrain premium brand from scratch, Borgward feels very confident he can pull off the trick.
Another German premium brand, but a still alive one, shows one of the best looking vintage cars of the show: the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Mille Miglia with racing number 417, to celebrate a special edition of its modern SL roadster. Still, I think the Mille Miglia would be a better fit with the also debuting Mercedes-AMG GT3, an absolute monster that is ready to steal the show at endurance racing events all over the world. This is much more of a spiritual successor to the Gullwing SL than a “special edition” option package of the brand’s boulevard cruiser.
Fiat kind-of joined the vintage-party with an even more retro version of the already retro 500, the Vintage ’57. This car’s cool closed alloy wheels, vintage Fiat logo’s everywhere, cream colored interior and pastel blue paint job with contrasting white roof, spoiler, radio antenna and mirror covers are reminiscent of the 1957 Cinquecento. Fiat knows exactly how to milk every penny out of one of its only truly successful model of the last few years, but nobody can blame them for it. In fact, the damn thing is so cute it’s simply too hard to hate it.
At the DS stand, now separated from the Citroën stand as the brands have officially been separated, a classic 1955 DS21 is tucked away in the back. The facelifted DS5, featuring the brand’s all-new grille design, steals the show, but if you look really well, you’ll be able to spot that model’s spiritual predecessor celebrating its 60th anniversary. Even though the modern DS’s have nothing to do with the original version, even in spirit, it’s good to see the brand isn’t afraid to show its heritage and maybe, even just maybe, aspires to be as progressive and innovative as it once was.
Since Alfa Romeo still hasn’t got anything new to show us, until the all-new Giulia will finally be revealed next summer, they decorated their show stand with a 1954 1900 Sport Spider, a Bertone designed spider version of the 1900, which shows Alfa Romeo’s traditional brand values and also acts as a kind-of spiritual predecessor to the 4C spider.
And finally, Volkswagen shows off its vintage Phaeton limousine in Geneva as well. Oh wait, that’s not vintage, I just totally forgot they still make that thing……