Veterama: A market for motorheads

by Jeana Coleman
Stripes Europe

Europe is well known for its antique flea markets and bazaars. However, if antiquing and spending a day lost in a sea of pottery and furniture isn’t quite your thing, fret no more. You’re about to be introduced to the greatest flea market event for motorheads. Love classic cars and motorcycles? Want to see them, restore them or even invest in a classic? Veterama is the place to be. Don’t be fooled, however. This isn’t just another European flea market. Veterama is considered the largest veteran auto and motorcycle market, trade show and exhibition in Europe. 

Held annually during both spring and fall seasons in two separate locations, the event attracts more than 50,000 collectors, hobbyists and spectators to visit with 4,000 vendors and exhibitors from across the continent. Each year a specific auto club is also highlighted at each event. This year, the fall event takes place from Friday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Oct. 14. Not only will you be amazed at the sheer number of old classics at the event, Veterama has helped save thousands of classic, rare and historic cars and bikes from scrapyards as mechanics and auto enthusiasts swap parts and expertise to painstakingly restore and rebuild, taking part in “the rustiest hobby in the world.”

So what’s a veteran?

When we say there will be old cars and bikes at the event, we mean O-L-D. By definition, a “veteran” car or bike is one that was built before 1919 and in some cases, before 1909. “Vintage” cars are those built between 1919 and 1930, and “antiques” are those more than twenty-five years old. As many as 500 restored vehicles and 4,000 motorcycles are at the event not just for display, but for sale. Models range from veteran, vintage and antiques classified as “old-timers” as well as some “young-timers,” which are cars or bikes soon to be classified as antique. The event is also a mecca for vintage parts, accessories, old advertising, signs, posters and more. Veterama has a little bit of everything for veteran collectors, hobbyists and enthusiasts alike.

History of Veterama

What started as a small insider’s meeting for a handful of collectors grew into a mega-successful, renowned event in less than a decade. In 1975, two German classic auto collectors, Winfried A. Seidel and Walter Metz, thought it would be a great idea to ask a few other collectors and colleagues to meet at the “Kannenberg Hall” in Mannheim for a low-key, friendly gathering to discuss their classic vehicles, exchange or purchase parts and show off their latest restored project. The response was tremendous, piquing the interest of more collectors until the event outgrew its space. The event moved to its current location of the Mannheim Fairgrounds, where it has since expanded into a three-day weekend market, trade show and exhibition held each year during the second weekend of October, spanning a 26-square-kilometer site of both tented and open-aired space.

As the fall season’s Mannheim event grew, it was soon apparent that collectors and enthusiasts were too anxious to wait a full year for another gathering. Organizers created a second event to take place in the spring in Ludwigshafen. In 1992, the event was moved to a larger space after interest in collecting, exhibiting and exchanging parts for classic motorcycles exploded. The weekend event also split into two full weekends, one designated for both cars and bikes, the other for bikes only. In 2013, organizers moved the spring event to the popular Hockenheimring in Baden Württemberg, home of Germany’s Formula One Grand Prix. The move combined the attraction of motorsports with the love of auto and motorbike collecting. The new venue also allowed for expansion. With more vendor and exhibition space, campsite facilities, pit lanes and paddocks, the vendor slots sold out in record time, with more than 2,500 vendors on site.  Approximately 20,000 enthusiasts attended the three-day event, shopping and dreaming about the 300+ cars on display and for sale. This year will be even bigger, so plan now for your tickets. Visit for more event details. 

More recently, vendors have expanded offerings to include wonderful antiques like clocks, furniture and more. Smart, huh? Bring a wagon or wheelbarrow to help you move around all the goods.

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