Car Tech

Hidden Gems of the 2017 Frankfurt International Motor Show

Photos by Jil McIntosh, Lesley Wimbush, and Jacob Black

The 2017 International Motor Show in Frankfurt (IAA 2017) is once again a showcase of the world's most exotic, far-reaching and intriguing vehicles. 

With German marques Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW all fighting each other for the best super/hypercar unveiling, and the juggernaut of electrified and autonomous technology careening towards the future whether we like it or not, this IAA was particularly interesting. 

With everything from the mundane to the spectacular, the ancient to the sci-fi inspired future, if you like cars in any way shape of form - Frankfurt has you covered. 

We won't bore you with yet more images of the well-covered launches of future product and current product (even if the Honda Urban EV Concept is the prettiest thing in the whole show). We will leave the drooling over the Mercedes-AMG Project One Hypercar do its own story and gallery. 

But here, because we know you care, are some of the best of the rest:

Race Cars, Robots, and Both

There are of course a large number of race cars on show, including contemporary Formula 1 cars from McLaren and Ferrari. There are robots too, and in the case of the Michelin RoboRace car - both! Classic rally cars - like the Peugeot 206 driven by Michelle Mouton are here, plus a cool future Formula 1 concept from Renault. 

Charging Asia 

Chinese manufacturers Chery and South Korean company SsangYong are making an ever greater push into the automotive mainstream, as are other Chinese companies especially.

WEY is Chinese automaker Great Wall’s premium SUV line, and its “XEV Streamlined SUV,” an all-electric concept, is…ummm…wey-cool. 

The central tenet of the Chinese push is SUVs, but this year they were also joined in Frankfurt by German-named but Chinese owned and produced Borgward - who is also into SUVs, mostly. 

Borgward was a German automaker that closed its doors in the 1960s, but the name has been revived with Chinese investment, and the company showed its stunning Isabella electric vehicle concept.

Curious Classics

Brabus Classics leads the way in Frankfurt with dozens of gorgeously restored Mercedes of yesteryear. But there are classics dotted throughout the show floor. Including at Ford, where a first-generation Fiesta in vibrant green is poised precariously on a ramp that puts far too much trust in the car's ancient parking brake. 

Jil McIntosh particularly liked the Limousine (or as I called it, "the black one"). Brabus Classic completely restored the 1967 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Limousine, and for just under one and a half million euros, it can find a new home in your garage.

If you're history buff, this is a good place to look back with fondness on a time when gearboxes hurt, engines detonated at will, and cars looked so good you'd eat one. 

Fabulous Flying Machines

There were even flying cars on display in Frankfurt. The Mercedes-Benz partnership with Volocopter was on display outside Hall 2, while inside the Aeromobil took up a lot of room with its five meter wingspan. The Aeromobil is allegedly slated for production in 2018 - though there are still a lot of regulatory hoops to jump through. 

Magnificent Motorcycles and Terrible Trikes 

Honda put its best foot forward with this CBR1000R Fireblade superbike... and also Grizzly Trikes were on scene as always. One of these things was better news than the other. 

Okay, A Couple of Future Tech Things

Lesley Wimbush insists we highlight a couple of the coolest things from today. 

"My initial reaction probably sounded a lot like a cat coughing up a hairball; but VW's angry toaster, the fully autonomous, all electric "Sedric" kind of grows on you," she says.

Kia was warming up when they unveiled the Stinger, but their gorgeous new Proceed shooting brake knocks it right out of the park.

Disregard its unfortunate name, because with a zero to 100 km/hr time of just two seconds, the all-electric Aspark Owl is the world's fastest accelerating supercar. 

The Marvelous Mainstream 

Even the mainstream cars in Europe have an air of mystique and intrigue about them - probably because there are so many of them we don't get. 

Things like the Opel Insignia, a beautiful station wagon we won't see, or the Cascada, a less beautiful convertible that might still thrill some. 

Or perhaps you'd like a C-HR Hybrid, shown here in concept and production form alongside the Toyota Hilux. That indomitable Hilux is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, so got a place on the stand alongside a Dakar edition of the same excellent truck. There was a Yaris Hybrid too. 

I miss Suzuki. Especially when it produces such stunners as the little swift. 

And then of course there's the usual crop of infuriatingly unattainable, perennially pretty Euro rigs we wish we could get but don't. Stuff like the Subaru Levorg STI, and pretty much anything by super-funky Citroen. Or the Hyundai Kona - whose absence from Canadian shores is as baffling as how I ended up with all this schnitzel in my belly.