Then and Now - 40 Years of Veterama
IT WAS AN IDEA THAT began on a cosy evening. “Walter Metz was a fervent German motorcycle collector, and his passion for collecting was focused on four-wheel vehicles with the silver star”, writes Veterama organiser Jonas Seidel. Walter declared: “We’ve got to get people together who have parts lying around in their cellars, garages, sheds and barns that other people
might need to restore their vehicles.” That was in 1975. He invited friends from the two and four-wheel scene to Mannheim, where they met in an old wooden hall that was built in the 1930s; the old Kannenberg Hall had survived World War II unscathed.
For the next two years, we called our idea “Mannheimer Fugger”. And for those years, it went well. At the outset there were about 40 exhibitors and fewer than 1,000 visitors who came to our “Mannheimer Fugger”. In the second year, these numbers had tripled. The “Mannheimer Fugger” had now got around. Even as far as Augsburg. From there, there promptly came an urgent injunction from the solicitors of Gräflich Fuggerschen, who saw their venerable name degraded by our veteran market. The Mannheim veteran market was then renamed “Veterama”.
The Kannenberg Hall became too small, and we moved to the huge Merohalle, a legacy of the 1975 federal horticultural show Bundesgartenschau on the former May Market grounds. This hall was ginormous! About 10 times as big as the old wooden hall. I remember phoning all of the Veterama exhibitors just before opening day, asking them to set up their stands over as large an area as possible. And, in fact, this hall of 10,000 square metres was filled to the edges. A number of dealers even built their stands on the surrounding outdoor areas.
That year, Veterama became larger and more international. Dealers and visitors from all over Europe came to the “Benz City of Mannheim”. It was also a great event as the first issue of the Markt magazine appeared in October 1980 for the Veterama. The cover sported the seal ‘First issue for the 1980 veteran market in Mannheim’. My friend Bernd Bonello had therefore made it come true. An antique car newspaper for the mechanics’ scene was the original idea. If you read the ads section in this first issue, you’ll rub your eyes in disbelief - Mercedes Benz 170 OTP free of rust DM 8500.00, 2 x BMW Isetta and loads of parts for DM 3500.00, Borgward Isabella for DM 3000.00. At that time, we would have made a killing!
When the Mannheim May Market as the largest regional exhibition in Germany moved from the old location to larger premises just outside of the city limits, Veterama followed suit. In the first year, this was a provisional solution in large tents surrounded by a huge open air space. Yet when construction work finished on the new May Market hall in 1989, Veterama could yet again offer a solid roof over the heads of its dealers in addition to the outdoor area.
The classic scene pushed for a second Veterama in the spring so that spare parts could be exchanged prior to the classic car show season as well. For a long time, the grounds surrounding the Friedrich-EbertHalle were the meeting place for mechanics and collectors with the notorious black grime under their fingernails.
Now, much has changed. Cars that were then offered as the latest models in the manufacturers’ showrooms have now become coveted antique models.
Signs on the motorcycle dealers’ stands proclaiming ‘Japanese rubbish? No thanks!’ have long disappeared. Vehicles and parts that had long been hidden behind the iron curtain were making a reappearance. The long hair of the young savages who then stood behind the sales counters had now greyed with dignity. My two-wheel partner at that time, Walter Metz, has since passed away, but I’m hoping he has found a suitable vehicle up there to paint the milky way red. And despite all of these changes, Veterama has always stayed true to the original idea: The veteran market for the scene, for antique cars that were not only investments, but also memories of the good old times when motorcycles were still an attractively priced option to get to work, when cars needed muscle to steer, and when mechanics could still repair them.
Forty years of Veterama that we want to celebrate, in memory of all those great Veterama years that now lie behind us. And hopefully as a start into many more great years that still lie ahead! This year Veterama is planning lots of special anniversary events: Henny Kroezen will be performing artistic feats on 1920s Indian motorcycles in the historical wooden wall of death built in 1940. Henny has even promised to bring along his daughter, apparently an even wilder rider. A great anniversary DVD is to immortalise the memories of 40 years of Veterama. And we haven’t forgotten his all important exhibitors.
At 6:30pm on Saturday, the exhibitors party will go down in our Veterama marquee on Grounds 8. Here you will be greeted with beer prices of 40 years ago and a great band that will be driving a historical tractor over the grounds from 6pm. There will lots more to see and do - the fortieth anniversary is going to be a great time at Veterama 2015.
The year’s Veterama at Mannheim opens Friday October 9 12:00 – 20:00 (‘insider’ ticket only), Saturday October 10 8:30 – 18:00, and Sunday October 11 8:30 – 16:00. Advance ticket sales are also provided on the website - www.Veterama.de