Geneva International Motor Show 2018

Keith Bluemel Words by Keith Bluemel
Fighter-jet canopy design by Giugiaro for the Techrules REN

The 88th edition of the Geneva International Motor Show was held between 8-18 March, and despite the current trend for manufacturers to present their latest offerings either in full view or as teasers, there is no substitute for seeing the real thing in the metal, or whatever else it may be constructed from. Thus there were plenty of new offerings, presented in all their glory, for visitors to enjoy through the course of the show. In all there were some seventy plus world premieres and around twenty European premieres from manufacturers, both mainstream and niche, design houses, plus a number of others for special bodywork and “refinement” specialists. A notable absentee in 2018 was Opel, but not really surprising, considering that they are no doubt in a period of transition after the recent takeover by the French Groupe PSA in August 2017.


Spectacular 1935 Avions Voisin C25 Aerodyne should be at the Concours d'Elegance Suisse this summer

Apart from these stands, the show also featured a Tag Heuer exhibition, a display of earlier concept cars presented in Geneva, called “Le Retour du Futur” and another promoting the Concours d’Elegance Suisse, thus providing not only the latest offerings to hit the market and future concepts, but a step back in time to what has gone before. A look over the shoulder is always a welcome respite from the glitter of the main displays, but equally shows how progress has been made in virtually every aspect of car design, whether it is safety, efficiency, performance, comfort or level of standard equipment provided. This aspect was highlighted by two Swiss Concept cars in the “Le Retour du Futur” display from 1956, a Soletta 750 and a Belcar, both minimalists in the extreme, but that was the norm for the period, but totally unthinkable today.

...and so should this Balboni-restored Lamborghini Miura too

Although many of the major manufacturers have new models and concepts, particularly in the alternative energy fields, one of the joys of the Geneva show are always the more specialist high performance and niche manufacturer offerings, which always seem to be in abundance. As could be seen in the “Le Retour du Futur” display not all of them make production, and some die almost without trace, but they frequently provide some spectacular designs and futuristic ideas, even if they are only living for the moment. Examples in the aforementioned display included the Bizzarrini Manta from 1968, and the Ghepardo from 2006, together with the “Chocolate” Lancia Stratos Based Sibilo, and the amazing Lamborghini Marzal from 1967, a study in silver, including the upholstery.

This Lamborghini Marzal concept for 1967 allegedly had only a six-cylinder engine instead of the claimed V12...
...while this Venom F5 has V8 Twin-Turbo unit—delivering 1,600 horsepower

Renowned former Lamborghini chief test driver Valentino Balboni was at the show, and commented to me that the Marzal was only a six cylinder car because there wasn’t space for the cylinder head of the other bank of their 12 cylinder engine! The Concours d’Elegance Suisse display included a Miura that had been restored by him, so he is still very active in the world of Lamborghini.

Ripped Corbellati has a claimed top speed of 500 KPH...
"Losing His Marbles"—the Mansory Veyron

Close to this display was the stand of American company Hennessy, with a lurid yellow offering called the Venom F5, which had shades of Corvette in its lines, or maybe that’s just me thinking about the racing versions, albeit with a mid mounted V8 twin turbo power train of their own construction, pumping out a claimed 1600 bhp, of which only 24 examples are slated for production. If this sounds extreme, then how about the offering from an Italian concern called Corbellati, aptly named the Missile, a matt silver machine, which claims 1800bhp from its twin turbo 9 litre V8 engine, and a possible 500kph top speed! If you are into extreme OTT with regard to body styling, then you needed to go no further than the Mansory stand, which as always had an array of bespoke offerings. These included a Bugatti Veyron with an all-over grey marble effect paint finish, a pale yellow and black Rolls Royce Phantom with matching yellow interior, slightly more subtle examples of an Aston Martin Vantage and a McLaren, plus a Ferrari 812 Superfast, called the Stallone, finished in metallic red and a similar, but darker, grey marble effect to various elements, together with a massive rear wing. In a slightly different vein, but equally outrageous in their own way, were the offerings on the Liberty Walk stand, including a Lamborghini Aventador and a Nissan GT-R, both featuring bulbous wheel arch extensions, and so low to the ground that you wouldn’t dream of going near the slightest speed hump.

"Walk On The Wild Side"—bulky Nissan GT-R by Liberty Walk
Touring Superleggera's Scia di Persia tribute based on the Maserati Gran Turismo

Away from the “refinement” specialists there were plenty of offerings from design houses and supercar manufacturers. Amongst the design houses Touring Superleggera displayed the third Disco Volante Spider that they have produced, together with a new coupé on a Maserati Gran Turismo base, called the Scia di Persia (Shah of Persia), elegantly finished in deep metallic blue, as a tribute to the trio of bespoke Maserati 5000 GTs owned by the Shah of Persia 60 years ago. On the Pininfarina stand there were two new offerings, the HK GT, the HK in the model name refers to Hybrid Kinetic, and is a 2+2 model with massive “gull-wing” doors, and is their fourth collaboration with the Hybrid Kinetic Group. The second offering was the hydrogen powered H2 Speed track only car, which was shown in its production form, and is a joint venture with the French-Swiss Green GT organisation, a zero emissions vehicle producing a claimed 645bhp

Pininfarina-penned H2 Speed runs on hydrogen
Aston Martin Valkyrie spreads her wings

The Aston Martin stand was relocated from its usual location to afford more space, and featured the new Vantage amongst their offerings, together with the GTE race version and the spectacular Valkyrie, both of which were finished in a bright lemon yellow. The stand also featured the presentation of the company’s new Lagonda Vision Concept, and a Red Bull F1 car which will carry Aston Martin sponsorship for the 2018 season.

McLaren Senna has all the aerodynamics you need
"They still make them"—one of only three Pagani Zonda GP “Barchetta", came complete with spats

Not far away was the McLaren stand, where there a Senna GTR concept centre stage, and the new Senna model on which it is based, a limited series of 100 examples, which is dubbed “the most extreme road car it has ever produced”, with a production run of 500 examples, all of which have been sold at a cool £750,000! Over at Pagani there was a Huayra Roadster with a bare carbon fibre finish, and the 1 of 3 Zonda GP Barchetta, featuring an elongated “snorkel” air intake and bare carbon fibre spats over the rear wheels. The Lamborghini stand featured a pair of Urus SUVs, an Aventador S and the debut of the Huracan Performante Spyder, looking very attractive in a matt metallic blue.

Ferrari 488 Pista was much anticipated, this one featuring carbon wheels
"Double Wide", outlandish Lagonda Vision Concept

The Ferrari stand is always the centre of attention, and although images of their latest offering, the 488 Pista, had been released prior to the show, the stand was mobbed on press day for the official unveiling to the public, and no doubt for the remainder of the show. There were two examples on display, one in metallic red with white and blue stripes, and the other in silver with dark blue stripes, the latter featuring carbon fibre wheels. These are 40% lighter than the standard alloy ones, and have an alloy-ceramic coating to the inner rim to aid heat dissipation under heavy braking. The stand also featured a selection of the other current production models, comprising of a 488 GTB “Tailor Made”, a 488 Spider, a Portofino, a GTC4 Lusso and a 812 Superfast.

David Brown brought over the Speedback GT Silverstone Edition
...while Morgan showcased the Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition

The foregoing is really only the tip of the iceberg of a wide ranging show, which once again featured a diverse array of exciting and new offerings of all genres of the motoring spectrum from electric town cars to track only hyper cars..

All Photos by Keith Bluemel

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