InterClassics Maastricht: A Great Start for the New Year

Paulius Gaurilčikas

Not surprisingly, the countries where the largest classic car shows are held are the ones with deep-rooted automotive traditions: Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. However, if we don't count these, then one of the best shows would probably be InterClassics Maastricht. Sure, compared to something like Techno-Classica Essen, the show in Maastricht might even seem tiny, but this also has its advantages. You can easily cover the 35,000 m2 area in a day, unlike the big shows, where one day is usually not enough unless you dart by the exhibits like a headless chicken. So InterClassics could be called the perfect balance – the show isn't too large, but large enough to fit in a lot of different participants and unique exhibits. This year, some of us from Dyler.com visited the show.

The biggest area of the show was taken up by car dealerships, and based on the cars that they had on display, it quickly became clear that the Netherlands belongs to the European classic car market elite. In addition, the Dutch, who have been known for their trade expertise since the Middle Ages and who found the sea routes to America very early on, have been taking advantage of this to this day. A significant part of the cars at the show had been brought in from the United States, and I'm not talking about American-made cars. The American market is a real salvation for classic Mercedes, BMW or Porsche lovers in Europe. The thing is that a few decades ago, the Americans were better off, their car market was huge, and gasoline was cheap. It was therefore on the other side of the Atlantic that the premium European manufacturers used to sell more than half of their most powerful cars. In the 1970s, there were probably fewer Porsche 911 (930 Series) Turbos in all of Europe than there were in the state of California alone. The situation was similar with the Mercedes-Benz SL (107 Series) – the most luxurious version of the 560 SL wasn't even offered in Europe, but it broke sales records in the United States.

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It's not by chance that I mentioned Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Various generations of the Porsche 911 and the Mercedes-Benz SL made up the bulk of the exhibits in Maastricht, and this is probably logical in light of the reliability of these models, the quantities produced, and the way the manufacturers themselves look after their heritage. Sure, the times when you could buy a Porsche 930 Turbo for EUR 30,000 are gone – nowadays they cost over EUR 100,000 – but it looks like their prices are adjusting a bit and may even decrease in the near future. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz 107 SL series is still one of the best choices among classic cars. Even the most luxurious version of the 560 SL in good condition costs around EUR 30,000. And when it was new, this Mercedes-Benz went for about the same amount as the Porsche 911 Turbo.

Among the show participants in the entry-level market, the "people's cars" made up the majority, as per tradition: the VW Käfer, the Citroën 2CV and the Fiat 500. Models in perfect condition cost about EUR 10,000–15,000, but there were unique versions there as well. For example, a first-generation Fiat Multipla in top condition built on the basis of the Fiat 500 can cost a whole EUR 50,000. But basically, everyone could check out whatever they wanted to. BMW Isetta, Messerschmitt and Zündapp microcars, American pony and muscle cars, British roadsters and limousines – they had everything. In water-abundant Holland, it turns out that there is even a market in Europe for the very rare Amphicar – an amphibious automobile. And for automotive connoisseurs, there were one-off models from De Tomaso and Bizzarrini, as well as the elite Ferrari 275GTB and F40.

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As befits a show like this, it had an entire array of car-related things as well: restoration workshops, insurance, all kinds of print, gadgets, model cars and automotive artwork. Classic car clubs also had their own exhibits. And Coys of London had more than 60 cars on display that were up for sale at Saturday's auction.

This was the 25th edition of the show, and the anniversary was commemorated with an exhibit of interesting cars, including the Ford Mustang Eleanor and the James Bond Aston Martin DB5. With more than 34,000 visitors, InterClassics Maastricht had a record turnout. And the greatest thing is that Maastricht is something of a kick-off for the new season. Rétromobile Paris is right around the corner, and after that there will be all kinds of events nearly every week.

Photos by Dyler.com