A postcard from Frankfurt – International Motor Show (IAA) 2011
Frankfurt – first impressions
I arrived in Frankfurt courtesy of a spotless Lufthansa Airbus from Manchester.
The first impression of Frankfurt is excellent, with a fantastic transport infrastructure in place. A short trip on the U-Bahn and you arrive in the centre of this financial heartland.
Frankfurt, the home of the European Central Bank and many of the world’s leading financial institutions, is a delight to behold.
Modern skyscrapers sit comfortably adjacent to historical buildings. The city is well planned with wide spaces and easy access to shops and amenities.
First, meander past the Alte Oper House and marvel at its architecture. The Opera House was damaged in 1944 and was rebuilt after World War II. Whilst standing outside Alte Oper, turn slightly and contrast the sympathetic restoration of this old building with the magnificent tall buildings which house the banks and insurance companies which inhabit this amazing city.
A self-confessed shopaholic and brand junky I sought my fix at Goethestrasse, a haven for designer brands and luxury goods. Cartier, Bulgari, Vertu, Jimmy Choo, Montblanc, Prada and Hermes were just a smattering of the names which caught my gaze.
Enjoy seeing products you may not ordinarily see at home
Take the time to savour this retail experience and enjoy seeing products you may not ordinarily see at home.
It had to be watch shops that were at the top of my retail itinerary. Wempe had a boutique on Goethestrasse with a further boutique only a few hundred metres away on An der Hauptwache.
Bucherer on Kaiserstrasse
The pinnacle of my watch shopping experience had to be Bucherer on Kaiserstrasse. Many illustrious brands were presented in a wonderful, large, retail environment; Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Breguet, Glasshütte Original, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin to name but a few.
Patek Philippe 10 day Tourbillon Ref. 5101R
It was a Patek Philippe 10 day Tourbillon Ref. 5101R in rose gold on a brown leather strap which stirred by soul. I have never seen this watch outside of Geneva and no doubt it will be captured by a fellow enthusiast as the model was replaced by the equally beautiful, 5101G in white gold earlier this year.
International Motor Show (IAA) 2011
The main purpose of my visit was to visit the International Motor Show (IAA) and what a show!
My first port of call was Bentley, very British and very traditional, but with a wonderful sporting pedigree and bristling with technology.
The deep metallic red of the Bentley Mulsanne on the stand was truly beautiful, with a sumptuous leather interior in two colours, a deep red and a contrasting cream.
The tradition and craftsmanship were evident when the wood veneers were scrutinised. Two adjacent pieces of wood perfectly mirrored each other on the dashboard.
Artisans from Crewe continue to uphold standards for which Bentley has always been renowed. The craftsman’s skill is apparent in the polished organ pull ventilation levers and hand stitched leather steering wheel. As you get in your feet sink the luxurious carpet. This car epitmomises luxury, tradition, craftsmanship and quality.
Bentley Continental GTC
The new Bentley Continental GTC was launched at the show and the beautiful light coloured exterior, contrasted with light grey leather and Tamo Ash Veneer.
The former model has always been a firm favourite of mine and I felt it did not need any amendment. However, the new model is fresher, cleaner, more resolved in its styling, something I did not feel was possible.
I can already visualise this car driving along La Croisette at Cannes in Summer 2012 with fortunate passengers enjoying luxury and sunshine in equal measure.
Porsche 911 (the new 991)
The Porsche 911 is an icon which transcends time in the same way as a Rolex Submariner does.
The new Porsche 911 is instantly recognisable as a 911 but with alluring aesthetics which look fresh and contemporary. Obvious changes include the front and rear bumper treatment, rear tail light design, door mounted rear view mirrors and an inviting interior which provides a superbly luxurious environment for its happy owner.
I have already arranged my test drive for December 2011 when the car arrives in the UK at a local authorised retailer and am currently deciding which investments I should liquidate to raise the necessary funds.
Ferrari 458 Spider
The 458 Italia was officially launched at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt in 2009 to the widespread adoration of the Tifosi and motoring press alike.
At this year’s show the headline act was the Ferrari 458 Spider. Achingly attractive it could drive a man (or woman) to tears such with longing and it will feature on the wish list of many. If you are able to afford this gorgeous creation then, alas, be prepared to wait because demand will almost certainly outstrip supply.
No words will ever convey the majesty of its form, just take the time to see it, study its curves, admire its lines, absorb the passion personified by its rosso corsa paintwork and nero hide.
A miracle from Modena.
Maserati Kubang SUV Concept
A wonderful object, passion with practicality! I hope this car graces our roads as it is refreshingly different from other SUVs currently on sale.
I have driven a couple of Maserati’s in recent times. The roar of their engines and their deft handling are an embodiment of Italian passion. When practicality is added they provide an enticing package for those of us who have to stable our two seaters when family ferrying duties dictate.
Aston Martin One-77
A special factory in Gaydon, England, has been created solely to craft these automotive gems.
It is a hardened soul that cannot feel pride and emotion at seeing these creations from one’s own country.
This car is the pinnacle of automotive engineering with racing technology combined with tradtional craftsmanship.
Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé
With weary feet I arrived at the last stand on my schedule, but it was like an oasis in the desert as peerless cars quenched my thirst in Hall 11 and all aches and pains were forgotten as I devoured these visions in metal.
Several beautiful models were displayed but it was the Phantom Drophead Coupé which caught my eye.
I always favour a car where the roof can be stowed away, preferably electrically and the sun can beam down on me as I navigate Europe’s finest roads.
The car is not subtle but has an imposing appearance which would suit the Cote d’Azur, St. Moritz or Pebble Beach.
The leather, stitching, carpets and veneered dashboard ooze luxury from every pore. However, it is the “J-class yacht-inspired teak decking” to the rear of the passenger compartment which I adore. A nautical influence with the craftsmanship typical of premier yacht builders provide an incomparable visionary spectacle.
Finally, I am invited to the exclusive area to the rear of the stand which is designed for the fortunate few to choose the specification of their potential aquisition.
An escape from the madding crowds, the ambience allows the potential owner of Goodwood’s finest to deliberate over the numerous choices of exterior paint finishes, amazing hides in the softest leathers in an array of shades and choose the veneers which will grace the interior of their future automotive companion.
Another trip in 2013 beckons
The next show is scheduled for 2013 and I will definitely be attending.
One day is insufficient to cover the whole of the show as there is an amazing array of things to see. Take your time and also visit the smaller stands and gain an insight into the future of the motor industry by seeing what the component manufacturers are working on now.
Frankfurt justifies a visit before the next show as it is a captivating city with architecture, cuisine, culture and shopping to delight everyone.