IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung) - the 64th Frankfurt Auto Show

October 07, 2011

My favorite car from the show - a gorgeous Wiesmann

What began as an outing idea that I was certain would be catered disproportionately to my husband, ended up being just as enjoyable of an experience for me - and so we ended up the other weekend at the IAA, or the 64th Frankfurt Auto Show. While my husband is not what I'd call a car fanatic, he is a man, and that somehow means he can spout off all kinds of stats about cars I know nothing about. I, on the other hand, mostly like cars for their aesthetics, and of course how they handle when it comes down to actually investing in one. The city-size scale of this event meant there was plenty there to keep us both happy.

The colors, the displays - it was like the Disneyland for car-lovers

Being the auto show of the year, we figured it would be pretty big and impressive, but nothing prepared us for the sheer size of the show and the incredible effort put into the showrooms - and that's before even getting to the cars themselves. We figured a few hours would be enough time to see what we wanted without getting overwhelmed - boy, were we wrong! At the end of the day, we departed with a lasting sense of wonder and a sadness for all that we didn't get to see.

The main attractions, of course, were those crazy concept automobiles. In the world of cars, it's fun to dream about what's possible - and at IAA, car makers create the reality. Some are crazy-ridiculous for real life (like Peugeot's 'Batmobile') and some are much more feasible (like the Land Rover - which reminded me of Toyota's FJ Cruiser that went into production after the overwhelming response when it was shown as just a concept), but they are all amazing to look at. Here, a few of the coolest concepts we saw:


Land Rover




Of course, being of the feminine persuasion, I couldn't help but be attracted to cars for their cuteness and sense of fun. Disco balls and collaborations with the likes of Gucci and Fendi didn't hurt either.  

Gucci's Fiat 500

Toyota's Disco in the front...

... and DJ in the back

The new Mini Cooper

Beyond the cars, the atmosphere was just amazing. Germany can be a little austere and lacking in creativity for those of us who value design (beyond just for utilitarianism, of course), and so it was such a treat to see all the amazing effort put into impressing people at the show.

From simple flooring and seating design...

...to the massive displays like a life-size (or rather, movie-size) Transformer

Honda's colorful, creative displays

Two of my favorites were BMW and Mini. Both had immense, amazing spaces that boggled the mind. BMW was massive compared with a lot of other manufacturers, but also had an impressive amount of automobiles - everything from the old models driving around a raised track to several new, very cool-looking concepts. Mini was of course representative of all things young, social and interactive. The only thing I regret is not asking the girls working the Mini booth to take a photo with me, since we just so happened to match in our red pants and dark tops. I did have a brief moment of panic when I realized this though, hoping that no one approached me to ask questions, in German no less, about the cars.   

Old model BMWs making their way around a raised track above the showroom

We got to take silly photos of ourselves at the Mini booth & have them displayed for all to see

Oops - I looked like I belonged as part of the Mini presentation

I do have to say that I think the organizers of the event missed a huge opportunity with the females in attendance. The men had the cars - no to mention all the lovely ladies posing next to said cars - to enjoy, but the women, unless they were automobile fanatics, were really just along for the ride. I'm not sure whether it's the girly-girl or former marketing-maven in me, but I felt there was an obvious opening that no one thought to take advantage of. 

I was so struck by the amazing colors and sparkling finishes on the cars, I had to wonder why the manufacturers didn't team up with a nail polish brand and have stations where one could get a manicure, or better yet, buy a bottle of limited edition polishes to match these brand new automobiles. I know I couldn't help but fall in love with several gorgeous paint jobs and photograph them in the hopes of finding similar polishes somewhere...

So it was with heavy hearts that we departed for the day, remembering all the amazing things we had seen. While I wished had left with some of those unbelievable car colors bottled for future manicure use, I was satisfied with my super-cool, tech-y t-shirt to commemorate the occasion, as well as the most hilarious vending machine sighting at the Messe/Laatzen subway station.

The U-Bahn keepin' it classy with its vending machine offerings

For all you car enthusiasts, I leave you with the grand daddy of all the cars I saw: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport L'Or Blanc. My husband went on and on about how fast it can go (ridiculously fast) and how much it costs (ridiculously expensive), but it mostly fell on deaf ears. What can I say - once again, I just liked the paint. :)

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische