Posts Tagged ‘Gemballa’

1986 Gemballa Avalanche

Remember the 80’s? Shoulder pads, footballer mullet hair-do’s, Don Johnson sleeves, Dallas, Wham, leggings and Yuppies of course.  If you liked cars, however, you might struggle to pick a favourite from the era of the ‘wedge look’ (Google TR7). Nonetheless the best hot hatch of all time, the Golf GTi (okay and the 205 GTi), was born back then along with the Ferrari F40. So some salvation at least from the acknowledged decade of excess.

Individualism was also high on the agenda in the car world of the 1980’s and the likes of TVR, Morgan, Marcos and Lotus enjoyed a level of editorial exposure that typically McLaren, Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari enjoy today. Different times indeed.

Of course car design is a very subjective thing. The traditional, conservative path tends to be trodden by the mainstream guys because, well, that’s the market they target in order to sell the most cars.

So how does individualist design stack up in the twenty teens? That can be answered in a heartbeat. In order to survive in the long term, no company can afford to be too adventurous because the numbers have to add up. Keep it safe, in other words.

The likes of Trevor Wilkinson and Colin Chapman would have a very big hill to climb these days so therefore all credit to the likes of Horacio Pagani and those designers that stretch our imaginations much further than our conformist world would prefer.

Uwe Gemballa was a car designer of his time and fortunately there are still a few of his sensational designs around 30-plus years later today. This 1986 Gemballa Avalanche is a superb example that is available to purchase right now.

Finished in Pearlescent White with a Black Leather interior this super-rare, left hand drive Gemballa Avalanche was first registered in the UK in April 2018 and was originally supplied brand new to a dealer in Puerto Rico, USA in 1986.

The Porsche 930 Turbo may well have been one of the fastest and most highly regarded sports cars of the 1980’s but a market for specialist tuners emerged during that time with RUF and Gemballa quickly making a name for themselves. Gemballa was founded in 1981 by Uwe Gemballa, an engineer who started out creating bespoke interiors before developing a strong interest in aerodynamics and associated aftermarket products. Gemballa soon turned his attention to producing complete cars based on Porsche 930’s and quickly gained a reputation for outrageous designs combined with wild performance.

The Avalanche debuted in 1985 with a price tag of 390,000 DM (nearly $700,000 in 1989) and quickly became the wheels of choice for some very high-profile celebrities such as the rap-musician Vanilla Ice who immortalised the car in the lyrics of one of his songs – “Of course a Vanilla rides the groove like a Gemballa Porsche”.

Each Avalanche was created by Gemballa with mostly bespoke body panels plus individual interiors filled with the latest technology for the time. Mechanical upgrades were completed by RUF with the cars being finished off by Gemballa to specific customer requirements. 


As motor shows go Top Marques Monaco doesn’t quite fit the norm. For starters it is a cosy affair set up in a modern building called the Grimaldi Forum which is perched right on the edge Monaco’s short stretch of coastline and looks like it is about to be washed away with the Mediterranean tide. Of course it is beautiful and therefore a fitting place for very expensive cars to strut their stuff.

The organisers modestly refer to it as ‘The Most Exclusive Supercar Show in The World’.

It is also a place where you will find be-jewelled watches on display on one level of the complex and then some pretty fancy looking motor cruisers rubbing shoulders on the concourse of the Forum.

However, what makes this show particularly different from others is that you can actually drive (or be driven in) some of the most exotic cars to be found anywhere.

A covered parking area bordering the sreet that runs adjacent to the Grimaldi Forum serves as a kind of makeshift pit-stop where you could see a selection of cars from lamborghini, Noble, GTA, Mercedes and several others all parked patiently for the amateur paparazzi.

Every so often a loud bark could be heard from a Lambo exhaust as the car was driven on to the ‘catwalk’ otherwise known as the Avenue Princesse Grace. A poser’s paradise indeed.

And the show itself? Well very few manufacturers respresent themselves since it is left up to either the local franchise dealership from Monaco or further afield to get on with the business of exhibiting at the event. Some brands, however, are instantly recognisable and several others maybe not so. The role call for 2012 was as follows:-

Bentley, Aston Martin, Delavilla, Gemballa, Fisker, GTA Motor, Hamann, JE Design, PACE, InsiderCars, Jaguar, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, Lexus, Lotus, McLaren, Mercedes Benz, MTM, MS Design, Mansory, Merdad, Noble, Roding, Pagani, Rolls Royce, Tushek and Dartz.

Some of the cars were just as you would find them in any car showroom but many others had been given some kind of ‘tuning’ treatment to offer somebody who wanted a Panamera, for instance, to end up with a Panamera that wouldn’t look out of place on the front cover of Max Power magazine. It is all a question of personal taste of course but the prices being quoted for these conversions were bordering on insanity. Think of the price of a nicely specified Cayenne and then triple it – and that’s for the ‘cheap’ bespoke options. More than half of the exhibitors at the show were offering their own take on ‘individualism’ for anything from an Evoque to a 450 Spider. Recession? What recession?

Highlights of the show? Well Pagani had their awesome Huayra on display and that is a car which needs no adornment or embellishment to either improve or destroy its looks. It is like a work of art. The design details make you keep looking over and over at the car and every time you look you find something else to make you go ‘wow’. Is there any other car which could draw so much attention right now – probably not.

It was pleasing to see a strong representation of British cars at Top Marques and Noble’s M600 had one of the nicest paint finishes at the show. It’s carbon fibre body was finished in a sort of cobalt blue and the yellow/cream interior contrasted perfectly.

Another odd-ball on show, but one which raised a few smiles, was the Dartz ‘gold-plated’ armoured car that is featured in the forthcoming Sasha Baron Cohen film ‘The Dictator’. This is a proper B7 category armour-plated vehicle and was the most intimidating car on display at the show by a million miles. Tapping on one of the side panels of the car was like tapping the side of building we were standing in. If you were worried about being blown-up on the way to the office then you would buy this car – it looks and feels like it could survive a nuclear blast!

Two days is plenty of time to take in everything the show has to offer and the question is whether to go back again next year. For the show content the jury is still out but if you are bored with the traditional show formats then you should try Top Marques – if you don’t like the show you could do far worse than end up in a place like Monaco!

In the meantime enjoy the slideshow of pics that were taken at the show…………

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When it rains in Monaco it rains big time and this is what it did on day one of the 2009 Top Marques Show. No wonder the streets are so nice and clean. Next time we’ll bring our own umbrella though. If you can find a shop that sells one be prepared for a nasty shock to the wallet. Let’s just say that walking out of the store we thought we had just bought a piece of the Principality. Anyway you don’t go to Monaco looking for bargains and even in the rain the place looks damn fine.

So on to the show. The Top Marques Show is not your typical car show. It is not mainstream so you won’t find the latest family hatch from Volksfiafortoyoseat. It is a small, compact event held in the splendid Grimaldi Forum that perches on the edge of the Med – it is probably the nicest place in the world to run a car show.

At this show you will find the different, the extreme and of the course the expensive. This is a show for the financially well-endowed. But it is accessible. No queues, barriers or special invites. All the cars are touchable and unlocked. You can even take a test drive in a Gumpert Apollo or a Koenigsegg for goodness sake!

The representatives on the stands were helpful and friendly in the main and on many occasion we were shaking hands with the actual owner of the company. How often does that happen at Excel or NEC? This is a show for the extraordinary.

Yes, you could see the latest from Bentley, Porsche, Aston, Jaguar and Lamborghini but they looked a tad ordinary compared to the likes of Fisker for example.

Now this is a company that knows how to design a good-looking car. The Fisker Karma is truly beautiful and little wonder since Mr Henrik Fisker’s design portfolio includes the likes of the AM Vantage, DB9 and BMW Z8. There were two Fiskers on show. A silver four-door saloon and a metallic red coupe cabriolet. Hybrids and the inevitable ‘green’ theme were ever-present at the show and the Fisker cars are leading the way with their ‘Q-Drive’ technology.

RUF took the green theme quite literally by painting a 911 Targa in well, green. But it was a horrible, flat green – a sort of plant-like green that hammered home that this Porker with its hybrid technology made it er, green.  Oh and they’ve called it the ‘Greenster’.

On the subject of colour it seems that black is the new black. Matt or Satin black that is. Mansory were showing off a Bentley GT that looked like it would shoot you if you stared at it too long. Very mean and moody. Gemballa joined the black suits with their Avalanche GTR Roadster and their upcoming Cayenne-based Tornado GTR with 700 bhp! Just to show that they can paint cars in another colour their Mirage GT looked resplendent in a nice satin-finish white.

Carbon-fibre was much in evidence too. The totally insane Pagani Zonda R looked stunning dressed in CF and strangely it looked like a different car from the ‘normal’ painted versions. Joining the ‘Fast and Furious’ corner was the KTM X-Bow, Gumpert Apollo Speed and PPI R8 Razor. All offering large performance and large price tags.

Met a nice chap called Ronn Maxwell who just happened to own a company called the Ronn Motor Company. He had come all the way over from Austin, Texas to show off his carbon-fibre Scorpion which is a 200mph hydrogen-assisted supercar capable of 40 miles per gallon. The powerplant is a 3.5 litre V6 which in twin-turbo form can deliver up to 450bhp. Almost seems to good to be true but Ronn takes his eco-mission very seriously. The car’s styling makes you stop in your tracks and if this is the alternative to plug-in electric transport, then bring on the Scorpion!  

Bespoke is what you want if you have money these days. Why buy a standard factory offering and suffer those plasticky air vents for instance? How about having them forged out of aluminium? You could even add some diamonds to the instrument bezels. Have your girlfriend’s name embroidered onto the headrests. You name it you can get it – at a price of course.

Prindiville is a UK-based company that can design anything out of almost anything. Whether it be a custom sports exhaust, carbon-fibre re-panelling or a snazzy new interior these boys can create it for you. Their stand featured a modifed Murcielago as a showcase for some of their creativity – the car reminded us of the Reventon. The quality of their workmanship is truly impressive and according to owner Alex Prindiville the company is a blend of cutting-edge design resources and ‘men in brown overalls’. Nice to know that some companies are keeping traditional skills alive in this industry. 

On the subject of modifed cars and looking a little out of place was the Z Cars Mini. The car on display featured a Civic Type R engine mounted in the rear offering 280 bhp and more laughs than room full of Dame Ednas. The video on the stand showed the cheeky Mini reeling in some pretty exotic stuff on the track and Z-Cars can even produce a version that will do 0-60 in 2.6 seconds. Yikes! Costing from around £30k upwards these Minis were undoubtedly the performance bargain of the show!  

And so came the time to leave but before doing so we had a chance to take a Wiesmann MF3 for a spin around Monaco.  They just handed over the keys, waved goodbye and we went looking for tunnels (which is actually quite easy in Monaco). The MF3 is fitted with the six-cylinder M3 Evo engine and it sounds delicious. Their designs seem to echo those British sportscars of the 60’s and you couldn’t help feeling that this car was a modern-day Austin Healey both in looks and character. The good news is that the company is now able to produce right-hand-drive versions and at the show was an right-handed example of the MF4 GT. The build-quality of these cars is exemplary and they deserve to do well.

The sun finally shone in Monaco and sadly we returned to the rain back in Blighty. The Top Marques show is inspiring and offers a real antidote to all those who fear for the end of cars for the enthusiast. We will be back next year for sure but this time we’ll pack a brolly just in case.

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