Dhe automotive year 1971 begins with a shock: The Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) surprisingly cancels the IAA scheduled for September. Economic reasons are given, the exhibition is too expensive with costs of 50 to 100 million marks. In retrospect, this is surprising, since 50 years ago nobody and nothing questioned the car. He was honored at numerous trade fairs and exhibitions, there were plenty of important, large auto shows in Europe, in Brussels, Rotterdam, Geneva, Paris, London (later Birmingham) and Turin, nicely spread over the year, only in 1971 just not in Frankfurt.
Half a century later, in 2021, the IAA will again not take place in Frankfurt, but in Munich. The reasons are well known. The trade fair suddenly lacked political backing, and car manufacturers no longer like trade fairs that much. How things will go on with the car shows is generally open. Apart from the IAA, only Geneva and Paris have or were relevant anyway. The Geneva Salon has already been canceled for this year, rumors say it will never be there again.
In contrast, the world was still rosy in March 1971. Although the Germans have had to get used to the new, large stop sign since March 1st, the Swiss women finally got the right to vote on February 7th, and the automotive world celebrated itself as usual at Lake Geneva in mid-March. Three new coupés from back then should be highlighted: The Alpine A 310 with its polyester body had its premiere, but the first Alpine (Berlinette) was still being built until 1977. Fiat brings the big 130 coupe with 3.2 liter engine and the beguiling lines of Pininfarina. Rolls-Royce is also showing the new Corniche, which was then available for 141,000 marks. In the exotic department, the Ferrari GTC / 4, the Maserati Bora and the Monteverdi 375 make their debut on Lac Leman.
On May 3rd, Erich Honecker took over power from Walter Ulbricht in the GDR, four days later the class enemy BRD and the Benelux countries got the Eurocheque, on May 17th the first Frankfurt Marathon took place.
The month before, the Mercedes-Benz 107 series, commonly known as the new SL, celebrated its premiere, initially only as a 350 with a V8 engine (for the first time) and 200 hp. The V8 also made its debut in the S-Class, which was not yet called that. The 280 SE 3.5 had already been seen in Geneva, the SL was not. This SL, which like its predecessor has a removable coupé roof, will be produced for a phenomenal 18 years without major changes.
In contrast, three other newcomers to the car from May 1971 only gave brief guest appearances: the BMW 1600 Touring, the BMW 2002 Cabriolet and the VW Buggy. The latter was based on the beetle. Buggies on this basis had been popular in America for many years, in 1971 Karmann began to sell the beach wagons, which had been available as kits in Germany since 1969, and to offer them fully assembled and ready for approval. By 1974 a total of around 1,800 units had been sold, with the Beetle’s 1200 to 1600 cc engines bubbling in the rear with the blessing of the TÜV.
The new Touring models (1600, 2000, and later 1800) from BMW were ahead of their time. At that time hardly anyone wanted just two doors and a sloping rear, but in July 1974 they disappeared from the range. In the same year, the brand new Golf should make the sloping rear end acceptable. By the way, BMW’s station wagons are still called Touring today. The first station wagon touring came in 1987 in the 3 series. 16 years earlier, the BMW 2002 Cabriolet with its stiff frame was truly no feast for the eyes. It was followed by the completely open 1600 convertible, which was on offer from 1967 to 1971. Both were built at Baur in Stuttgart, from the 2002 convertible to June 1975 just under 2,400 units.
Mönchengladbach champions for the second time in a row
At the beginning of June, two events dominated the discussions in Germany. “We have aborted” known 374 women, among them some celebrities like Senta Berger and Romy Schneider, in a big cover story of the magazine “Stern”. Abortions without medical indication were still forbidden, Section 218 StGB. This was subsequently fought hard between the political camps, the time limit regulation has been in place since 1976. Abortion is still punishable de jure, but there are some exceptions in addition to the deadline regulation.