Geneva was a great motor show, but David Wilkins is looking forward to an even bigger treat at Essen this week

Geneva is probably the classiest of the big motor shows, and this Year's Salon International de l'Auto, with its avalanche of new models, was exceptional. But as I nursed my blisters and flicked through my brochure collection on the flight back to Gatwick, I had the satisfaction of knowing that the main treat of my show-going year still lay ahead of me.

Geneva is probably the classiest of the big motor shows, and this Year's Salon International de l'Auto, with its avalanche of new models, was exceptional. But as I nursed my blisters and flicked through my brochure collection on the flight back to Gatwick, I had the satisfaction of knowing that the main treat of my show-going year still lay ahead of me.

This year's Techno-Classica, Germany's most important classic car show, takes place in Essen over the first four days of April. If you don't think classic car shows are for you, think again. The Techno-Classica has something for everyone.

German manufacturers like Mercedes, BMW and Audi know that promoting their history at the Techno-Classica is essential to the cultivation of their brands, so they set up stands that are almost as elaborate as those that they take to the big shows like Geneva. Jaguar's heritage arm has been represented for a number of years, too, as have the main French manufacturers. Mercedes had a particularly memorable exhibition one year, showing five generations of SLs, and another year showed an enormous Papal 600 from the Sixties. One impressive BMW display featured representative models from its seven decades of producing convertibles.

And unlike most motor shows, it is actually possible to buy cars at the Techno-Classica, not just look at them. At the bottom end of the scale, there is usually a yard full of what might politely be called "restoration projects", some complete with birds' nests. In the main halls, dealers show their wares: Jag Mark IIs, fintail Mercs, Opel Kadetts, the lot. And the top end of the market is served by the auction houses, which usually turn out in force. Altogether, 2,000 cars are expected to be on sale this year.

If you don't want to buy a whole car, there are plenty of companies that can sell you hard-to-find parts for one you already own. If you've got an old Beetle, for example, specialist suppliers can sell you anything from replacement pedal rubbers to a brand new floor-pan.

Some of the cars on show are not for sale but are displayed by Germany's rich variety of car clubs. One such club is devoted to German Fords, showing the Taunus 12Ms and 17Ms that Germans bought when Brits were driving around in Anglias and Corsairs.

When it comes to Mercs, there are even clubs devoted to individual models like the W123 and the Stroke 8. And there is usually a stand run by the organisation for gay German classic-car enthusiasts: its name, Queerlenker, is a witty play on the German word for a suspension wishbone.

One year, a club of Tatra fans brought along one of the Czech manufacturer's older models, a T603, I think it was. For anyone prepared to pay a small contribution to charity, they would start it up and rev it a few times. And if you have ever heard the magnificent sound of Tatra's air-cooled V8 engines, you will probably think that one of the better ways of spending a few euros.

Finally, there are all of the car-related paraphernalia; badges, books, brochures and lots more. And if you don't want the hassle of actually buying and running an old car, model sellers like Modelissimo will sell you a smaller, less troublesome version for your mantelpiece of the fondly remembered Mini or Volkswagen 1600 that your Dad owned when you were young.

If the Techno-Classica has a small drawback, it is that without the new model launches that are the lifeblood of the mainstream car shows, it can feel a little bit samey from year to year. But that should not stop you visiting it once in your life. Why not make it this year? I promise you will not be disappointed.

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