Driving culture… What do you understand by driving culture?
You might think it’s about the way of driving, the different driving styles, that would be a first assumption. But the word “culture” in relation to “driving” means so much more. First of all, it is by far not only about the human interaction with the car or motorcycle or what kind of vehicle comes to your mind. It is also irrelevant whether it is a rare classic car or a modern mass-produced model. I claim that driving culture is individually defined for each one of us.
At Retro Classics, the trade fair for driving culture, everyone can celebrate this driving culture in their own way for 20 years now. The organizers have so many things to offer for the car enthusiast nowadays, whether it’s buying a car, planning the next road trip, customizing, restoring the vehicle or simply buying souvenirs. Everything you find here and even culinary specialities you can enjoy during your visit to the fair. Every year, the organizers present a few special features to the audience in addition to the usual exhibitors, of course. As with this year’s highlight, the ROFGO Gulf Heritage Collection, which was proudly announced at the pre-opening at the Alfa Romeo Dealer Brunold and raised the curiosity of the guests invited there.
Unfortunately the last phase of the preparation was affected by the coronavirus. It has engulfed the whole of Europe after first showing his ugly head in Italy. Which is why a few exhibitors and visitors from these regions sadly would stay away from the exhibition. And despite this slight uncertainty, the rush of visitors on Saturday morning, when I entered the exhibition hall, was quite large. After all, the real car lovers are not to be kept away from one of the biggest shows of its kind in Europe.
Already in the entrance area, the Messepiazza, the visitors could admire the announced Gulf car collection, which the main part of the just arrived ones did. Curious people squeezed in between the historic Aston Martin, Porsche and Ford racing cars. Enthusiastic about these extraordinary machines and the stories they had surely experienced and also written. Luckily for me, almost all visitors were drawn there first, because my curiosity was primarily directed to another area of the fair. And I hurried, ahead of the arriving masses, towards hall 7. Because there my personal highlight, the Passione Italiana, a hall full of Italian automotive passion was waiting for me. Definitely my favourite kind of driving culture at this year’s fair.
For me, it’s all about passion and emotion, whether driving a car or admiring its design. And where would you be better off than in a hall full of Italian passion. But there is only one Italian brand that combines so much tradition, myth and passion that it gives me goose bumps: Alfa Romeo, whose DNA has been dedicated to passionate, sporty driving culture for 110 years. From the very beginning, everything about Alfa Romeo has centred on automotive fascination, the motor lifestyle and stands for a unique attitude to life that is not only directly related to driving. You could also call it the love for cars. Or Italian dolce vita combined with a Mediterranean temperament, perfectly shaped in Alfa Romeo’s sporty vehicles, to form a beautiful picture of emotion and passion. And this year, this unique car brand is celebrating its 110th birthday, and on this occasion the celebrations at Retro Classics 2020 were already about to begin.
In honour of the anniversary, the German Alfa Romeo dealer Brunold, together with the Museo Storico Arese and the Mythos Alfa Romeo exhibition of the Technikmuseum Sinsheim, dedicated a huge 600qm area in Hall 7. When entering the hall for the first time, my eyes immediately turned to the breathtaking silver Giulietta Sprint Speciale. Its sensual, dynamic proportions were so wonderfully illuminated by the sunlight that it looked like a beauty cast in pure silver. Of this extremely rare 1959 coupe only 101 examples were built and it was the perfect appetizer for this Alfa Romeo exhibition. The Alfa Romeo 8C Spider in a noble grey, showed itself as an appropriate partner. In addition to the sophisticated Giulietta Sprint Speciale, the 8C appears impressive with its graceful shape. Because this limited Alfa Romeo from 2010 was also made of eternal beautiful, sensual shapes. Visitors were literally filled with admiration and fascination when they saw these timeless classics.
Other Italian masterpieces in the front row were a Pininfarina designed Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider and a Giulia Spider, and one could say that these four pieces gave a wonderful insight into some of the most beautiful vehicle designs throughout Alfa Romeo history. At the same time they lured people to the current models that could be seen in the central area of the stand. In a way, the big siblings of the four classics upfront. Among them were a Stelvio Veloce, two Giulias and a Stelvio QV in Misano Blue from the Brunold dealership. The wonderful blue of this Italian 510PS beast glowed intensely and dominated the interior of the booth. I would have loved to hear the roar of his V6 Biturbo in the hall, I am sure the walls would have trembled under the deep rumbling of his engine. But even when I saw it here, the association of a sleeping lion like in a circus came to my mind. This was the picture that came to my mind as I saw how impressed the people circled around this extraordinary Italian SUV.
The eight-cylinder coupé Alfa Romeo Montreal, which the Alfaclub DE had brought along, also had a impressive and mesmerizing appearance. Somewhat more edgy and yet still Italian emotional, it fitted into the booth next to the Stelvio with its camouflaged look. I was particularly fascinated by the front of this Bertone jewel. Slightly muscular, as one is more used to from American muscle cars, yet with elegant, precisely defined details, such as the louvers above the headlights. And the curved silhouette with the floating rear end is simply breathtaking. Dynamic and yet sensual at the same time.
In the opposite corner of the booth, the Technikmuseum Sinsheim had brought the Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Aerodinamica Spider from the 1930s. A unique vehicle and a technical masterpiece for its time. Thanks to its unusually purist body shape, it clearly stood out and, in view of its adventurous history, it was well deservedly awarded the Retro Classics 2020 Special Prize.
The grand finale for the gathering of these three exhibitors on the occasion of the 110th anniversary was the Nürburgring world record Alfa Romeo vehicles. The Giulia QV, a Stelvio QV and 4c from the Museo Storico Arese. The Giulia QV must clearly be mentioned in this trio infernale. If you have ever seen the footage of this record lap of Giulia, you know how legendary this ride through the Green Hell was. I don’t believe that ever before has a driver conquered the Nordschleife so easygoing. Just in his unique Italian way. As if he had decided to put on his helmet between a morning espresso and a cigarette and go through the 7.32 minutes. Magnificent and absolutely worth seeing!
Another thing that was definitely worth seeing were the other areas in the hall. To steer the attention back from the Nordschleife to the Retro Classics in Stuttgart. Because everywhere on the fair you can find these Italian jewels. For example, more Alfa Romeo 8C, a Giulia GTA replica, an Autodelta Alfetta GTV and a Giulia 2000. And no matter where you find them at the show, whether in the midst of Mercedes, Porsche or other brands, the Scudetto always stands out. There are few car brands with a more consistent design feature over so many decades. And this legendary Scudetto undoubtedly stands for the dynamics and the sporty, passionate driving culture that is so much appreciated about Alfa Romeo all over the world. And that is exactly what I love about Alfa Romeo. All the more reason for me to be delighted that this special driving culture was presented in such a multifaceted way at this year’s Retro Classics.
I look forward to the next one in 2021!