Essen-tial Rides: Ferrari 348 GTS on Air Ride, M4-Powered E30, and More

Photography: Jeroen Willemsen

  • The Essen Motor Show is considered the European equivalent of the SEMA Show.
  • With a focus on aftermarket tuning and performance, car enthusiasts from Germany and beyond make their way to the 10-day show that’s open to the public.
  • The 2021 show featured approximately 400 exhibitors and 100,000 spectators.
  • It was clear that popular trends like stance and air suspension are still prevalent in Europe, especially with older and more uncommon vehicle models.

If you consider yourself a patron of the European tuning arts, you’ll need to walk the halls of Messe Essen for the annual Essen Motor Show at least once in your life. Essen showcases everything from modified cars, motorsport icons, classic restorations, and motorcycles. Before COVID, it wasn’t uncommon to see the number of spectators in the 300,000-400,000 range. In December, this past show was a slightly trimmed-down version due to mask mandates and travel restrictions. However, our photographer Jeroen Willemsen still recorded a collection of photos filled with incredible cars for us to drool over — until we’re able to get out to Essen ourselves in due time.

Don’t forget to check out part one of our 2021 Essen Motor Show coverage, highlighting our seven favorite Volkswagen builds. For the second part of our report, we’ve picked five more rides that caught our attention. We hope they give you more insight into today’s tuning society in Germany.

Alex Bachmann | Ferrari 348 GTS
You simply can’t go wrong when you pick up an older mid-engine V8 exotic car and slam it on proper wheels. Thus is the case with Alex Bachmann’s Ferrari 348 GTS. He’s installed Prazis air suspension with Air Lift Performance management, and the step-lipped 19-inch BBS RS wheels are beyond beautiful.

Khyzyl Saleem | Chevrolet Corvette C5
It is a very unlikely vehicle to find at Essen; however, after discovering who the owner is, “The Kyza”, it doesn’t surprise us as he’s the one guy pushing the creative envelope. His Corvette is the first C5 lowered on air in the country, and it sits on a set of Leon Hardiritt wheels.

There wasn’t one, but three BMW E30 builds that caught our attention:
• Originally a 1987 320i, Mathias Lange’s gold coupe wears Austin Yellow Metallic paint, commonly found on the F82 M4. Under the folding front-end is an S50 E36 M3 engine. Other sweet mods include the AC Schnitzer Type 1 wheels, KW coilovers, and six-point rollcage.
JP Performance continues to impress the crowds with this white E30 M3 that houses a complete M4 running gear, engine, and interior.
• For E30 M3s especially, sometimes less is more, as demonstrated by Raab Automotive.

Rouven Mohr | Audi 80 Coupe Quattro
An Audi RS2 coupe widebody as visualized and put into production by Prior Design. Absolutely breathtaking car, and we’re sure Audi wishes they built this 25 years ago…

Jaguar XJ40
From old man sedan to Essen show stopper, this Jaguar is another example of air suspension and BBS wheels being all you need when resurrecting a blast from the past.