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article imageCaviar Cars For The Rich And Famous - Frankfurt Has Them

Heiko Haupt.
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By Heiko Haupt     Sep 8, 2001 in Technology
FRANKFURT - These are the stuff of automotive dreams, sportscars with staggering performance, luxury limousines and exotic marques sold in strictly limited numbers.
This year's Frankfurt Car Show from September 13 to 23 provides plenty of material for automotive daydreams.
Manufacturers this year are weighing in with plenty of upmarket product, ranging from BMW's much-awaited 7 series limousine through to the facelifted Porsche 911 and exclusive beasts such as the new Lamborghini Diabolo or a "small" Bentley rumoured to face the cameras for the first time in the German city.
The most talked-about debutant is undoubtedly the new 7 series BMW. Although no one has seen a real one, the pictures released by the manufacturer in advance have caused controversy among badge devotees.
For years the Bavarian carmaker has been accused of constantly refining the styling of its cars while eschewing genuine innovation. The new 7 breaks the mould. The elongated indicator brows and the tray-like boot treatment have split the fans into admirers and detractors although the real revolution is under the sheet metal.
Instead of a battery of switchgear and dials, a new cabin control system called i-Drive minute will combine many of the key functions in one ergonomic unit.
Porsche's renovation of the Porsche 911 is a subtle reworking of an iconic automobile. Revamped bumpers, headlights from the Turbo Porsche and a host of details are designed to refresh the parts of this classic. It has 320 horses under the bonnet instead of 300 as before, to give a little more urge in the fast lane.
The rejig is designed to keep the ever-active competition at bay in a sector where the IAA has a lot to offer this year.
From Italy comes the seductive drophead version of the Maserati 3200 GT coupe. Apart from a chopped roof, the car offers a new V8 engine finished in pulse-quickening red, a revised interior with satellite phone and entertainment console and plenty of speed to match - 280 kilometres an hour. The price is around 85,000 dollars.
One of the big stars of the show hails from Stuttgart. Mercedes will celebrate the its 100th year of carmaking with the next generation of the SL roadster which has been packed off to retirement after 12 years in production.
The new version is more sporting, with a new chassis offering sublime handling.
Lexus will hope to lure a few potential three-pointed star customers away with its chopped-top SC430 coupe, a sumptuously equipped convertible built to the usual exacting Japanese standards.
The big question mark hangs over the most exotic badge in Geman ownership. Little is known about the new Lamborghini Diabolo, a car synonymous with fabulous wealth.
Owners Audi in Ingolstadt have gone as far as to say a replacement will be on the stand in Frankfurt but all that has leaked out so far is that the car will be "uncomprisingly sporting".
At Crewe in Britain, Bentley is letting even less out of the hat. The firm says it is working on a midsize Bentley as a stablemate to its range of ultra-expensive gentlemen's carriages and has given itself three years to get the new car into the showrooms. Whether the new Bentley will grace the podium in Frankfurt is not yet clear.
Whether it comes or the million or so visitors expected to come to Frankfurt will have enough to ogle at.
Along with the dream cars mentioned above will be the first production versions of the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, billed as the world's most luxurious GT, the new Superb limousine from Skoda designed to revive the marque's 1930s tradition of excellence, and a host of debuts by cars that were so secret before the show that no one knew whether they were waiting in the wings or not.
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