The USA has SEMA, Japan has the Tokyo Auto Salon, and Germany has the Essen Motor Show.

To paint the picture, let’s start with the numbers. The annual Essen show, held in the Ruhr region of Germany, attracts around 350,000 visitors, more than 550 exhibitors – of which a fifth are from abroad – and wraps it all up in 30,000 square meters of exhibition space. That’s a lot of room for cars.

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The show is divided into different areas. You have classic collector vehicles, sport and prestige cars, aftermarket and performance parts, race and street cars. For the 2019 show, each area was full of interesting of builds, so many in fact that I’ve split my coverage into two, and you can expect the follow up to this story – which will include a huge gallery – in the next couple of days.

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Let’s get started…

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I made my way into the show through the west entry, which led into the media and modified cars section. It only took a few minutes of walking around to figure out that the new Supra was the star of Essen 2019.

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Despite the A90’s mixed reception, in the short time the Toyota and BMW collaboration has been on sale, it’s already become a tuning sensation. It should come as no surprise then, that so many of the parts manufacturers showing their products at the show had a Supra on display.

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The first one I spotted was Piecha Design’s car, which pays homage to the MkIV Supra from The Fast and The Furious with an orange exterior and some famous graphics.

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Not that far away, the H&R booth featured another nice example, this time dropped on Levella wheels.

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But it wasn’t just all about the Supra’s appearance. The B58 engine used in the A90 was first used in the BMW F30 340i in 2015, and German tuners know it very well. Dreihundert is one such tuner based in Dresden, who a few weeks ago extracted an impressive 781hp (709whp) from their yellow Supra. To achieve this, a number of internal and fuel system modifications were made, along with the switch to a BorgWarner EFR 8474 turbocharger. Subsequent tuning on 102 octane fuel by Pure Boost and MHD Tuning netted the aforementioned numbers, with Dreihundert observing that the A90’s transmission will likely be next on the list for upgrade.

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One car I wasn’t expecting to see was a BNR34 Skyline GT-R brought all the way to Germany from Osaka. KRC Japan does a lot of work with RAUH-Welt Begriff (RWB), and this one’s had the Nakai-san touch, too.

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RUF Automobile is a pillar of German car culture. Unlike local companies likes Brabus, 9FF or Techart, which are more considered as high performance aftermarket tuners, RUF is a fully-fledged manufacturer who have traditionally applied their own components (and VIN numbers) to brand new Porsche chassis. There were two RUFs on display at the Essen Motor Show this year, the first located in the Recaro booth.

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The CTR 2017 was inspired by the legendary 1987 Yellow Bird, and was the first RUF to be built on an original carbon fibre monocoque chassis. With carbon body panels too it weighs only 1200kg (2,640lb), which when combined with the RUF-built 3.6-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine pushing 710PS and 880Nm to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox and limited slip diff, results in shattering performance: 0-100km/h in less than 3.5 seconds, 0-200km/h in less than 9 seconds, and a top speed of 360km/h (223mph).

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The second RUF car at Essen 2019 was this SCR 4.2, which like the CTR 2017 also features a full carbon fibre monocoque chassis and shell, but also benefits from an integrated roll cage. As you can see, it looks like a Porsche 964, but the chassis is actually based on that of a 993 model, albeit with a wheelbase that’s 70mm longer to improve weight balance and stability. The engine is a 997 GT3 unit that’s been stroked to 4.2L and now produces 525hp at 8,370rpm and 370lb-ft of torque. It weighs only 1,190kg and has a top speed of 322km/h.

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One thing you can always be guaranteed of at the Essen Motor Show is race cars, and there was an entire hall dedicated to them.

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This BMW 2002 Turbo has just been built by Minichberger Motorsport for the German Berg Cup series. Power comes from a 2.0L naturally aspirated M12/7, which is said to deliver 305hp at 10,800rpm, and the whole thing weighs just over 835kg (1,840lb).

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If you’re familiar with late-’90s touring car racing, you’ll definitely recognize this ex-Alain Menu Renault Laguna BTCC in its British Racing Green Nescafe livery with gold OZ Racing wheels.

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Despite Volvo never winning the British Touring Car Championship with its 850 Estate, no one could ever forget it – especially the image of ex-F1 driver Jan Lammers on two wheels in one. Although the wagon body created a lot of downforce allowing the car to be fast in a straight line, the Estate’s weight distribution was not ideal – even with a lot of weight taken out of it – making it slower through corners. The fact that it was out there competing was more than enough from a marketing standpoint, though.

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That’s it for my first look at the 2019 Essen Motor Show – stay tuned for an even bigger follow up story in the coming days.

Quentin Fourneyron
Instagram: _quent1n_

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