The commotion, bustle and buzz of a massive crowd is part of the magic of a motorshow and you won’t find many larger and more vibrant than the hoard that attends the IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung) Frankfurt show every other year.
But when you have a job to do - covering the numerous reveals, launches and presentations that are scheduled back-to-back over two days, fighting crowds can be an unwelcome impediment.
That’s why all the major events open their doors a day or two early to allow the world’s media in and immerse itself in the incredible automotive wonderland. Last year, we were lucky enough to have several journalists on the ground in Frankfurt and that meant we could give you a little glimpse of what it’s like on an exclusive Frankfurt media day.
Actually, the festivities had already swung into motion the evening before when Volkswagen Group had laid on a party for a few lucky invitees including Glenn and I.
This was the night a few hundred people got to see the first official unveiling of the new ID3 electric hatchback.
But, as all the German giant’s brands were all housed in the same vast hall, we also had a first peek at all the incredible machines due to be rolled out over the coming days. Audi RS7, Lamborghini Sian and a brace of new Skodas to name but a few.
Over at the other side of the sprawling IAA showgrounds, Trent was enjoying Mercedes hospitality in its own entire festival hall and it was the same for Cam in the JLR quarters. That’s the sheer scale of the operation.
Still having trouble fathoming the size of the world’s biggest car show? 12 buildings are needed to house the many brands, suppliers and presentations on show covering a total of 400,000 square meters or about 75 football fields.
The site is so large, many of the manufacturers offer shuttles in their various models to get attendees from one end to the other and this year, I clocked up 12 kilometres on foot just trying to see everything on the main media day. Some smarter journalists even turned up on folding scooters.
Of course, climbing inside concept cars, chatting to global executives and swanning around show-stands with a camera crew requires even more special treatment and we were especially lucky to get access to all the action behind the scenes.
The one-off Audi Aicon concept I was fortunate enough to sit in wasn’t revealed for the first time at Frankfurt 2019 (that happened two years before), but as a unique and irreplaceable part of four-ringed history, it did come with its own guard to make sure I was behaving myself.
Audi’s installation was impossibly smart and decked out like an interior design magazine. While some interviews were conducted in very businesslike pristine white rooms, another chat took place in incredible lounge situated above the show floor and contained a bright green R8 V10 Plus.
The car was invisible to all attending the show except those select few who were ushered through into Audi’s inner sanctum.
Among motor journalists, the Frankfurt show is revered as one of the toughest and most exhausting - you don’t get to see the hours of sitting in a hotel room writing the stories from the day until the early hours - but it’s also one of the most enjoyable and exciting.
So it was with sadness that only a few weeks after this year’s event that we heard it had been put into stasis. The news also kind of ruined my closing line.
Cancelled, postponed, moving cities, a hiatus or gone for good, only time will tell. What’s for certain, though, is that anyone who ever stepped through the doors into Frankfurt’s motoring mecca can say they were part of something truly special.
How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Behind the scenes: Apocalyptic car comparison
How we shot the most chilling and obscure car review in recent television history
WhichCar season two in review
Our most memorable moments from the making of WhichCar season two
Stories behind the stories in our season-closing episode
A handful of memorable moments to farewell our second series of TV motoring Mecca