When reading these lines, some people (including the author) will think: “Boy, how time flies.” To give even more substance to the second thought, “It seems like it was yesterday,” let us review the year 1994 . After all, a lot more happened during the twelve months 30 years ago when new cars came onto the market, whose owners can now apply for the coveted H license plate and, for example, have to pay lower insurance premiums.

Since this is about mobility, it is interesting to learn that the railways are being privatized in Germany. The Hollywood classic “Schindler’s List” celebrates its premiere, Arno Funke, who played cat and mouse with the police as department store extortionist Scrooge, is arrested, Nelson Mandela becomes South African president and in the federal election Helmut Kohl remains chancellor of a coalition consisting of the CDU/ CSU and FDP. By the way, the SPD’s candidate for chancellor is Rudolf Scharping. And since we started this part with a mobility report, we want to end it with one. In 1994, the great Ayrton Senna unfortunately had a fatal accident in Imola and a certain Michael Schumacher won the drivers’ championship in the Formula 1 World Championship in a Benetton-Ford.

That brings us to the topic: a Ford will also achieve classic car status in 2024. However, the Ford Scorpio II is more of a niche vehicle for people with the courage to do something extraordinary (to avoid the word ugliness). Although built in Cologne, the design of the second generation of the upper middle class car followed American tastes. The coup didn’t work and in 1998 this Ford trump card stood out for the last time. More attractive are the Lancia Kappa and the Maserati Quattroporte IV, with which the Trident brand is celebrating its comeback on the luxury sedan market. Where the words luxury and sedan meet, German car manufacturers are not far away. The BMW 7 Series of the E38 series is probably one of the most attractive vehicles in the history of Bayerische Motorenwerke. Then add a classic in-line six-cylinder or, even better, eight pots and the white and blue world is fine. For the very class-conscious, the Munich-based company also offers a stately twelve-franc penny with a powerful temperament.

Around 70 kilometers north, Audi is trying to shed its old man image. The new A8 is a counterattack in the luxury segment against Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and Munich. The Ingolstadt flagship with the internal code D2 uses aluminum to a large extent in order to be lighter than the Mercedes S-Class and the BMW 7 Series. As Ferdinand Piëch had wished, the Audi A8 scored points with an armada of technology, welcomed a prominent passenger in the form of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and thus triumphed for the first time over the Mercedes S-Class, which is otherwise used by a German head of government. Because people in Ingolstadt are currently in attack mode, they quickly added the Audi RS2 Avant 30 years ago. As the internal designation P1 suggests, Porsche is building the power station wagon, which draws its 232 kW / 315 hp from a turbocharged 2.2 liter five-cylinder. A little treat on the side: the exterior mirrors come from the Porsche 911 (993). Certainly a car that is still fun to drive today and is definitely not underpowered.

“Wait a minute,” connoisseurs will immediately notice, “the basis for the RS2 Avant was the Audi 80 from the B4/8C model series?” That’s right. In 1994, Audi changed the nomenclature and presented the new A4 as the successor to the Audi 80 in the middle class in order to be able to stand up to the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C-Class. Mercedes had already rolled out the new W202 series a year before, but deliveries did not begin until 1994. The Swabians wanted to show who was the master of the house and sent the C 36 AMG with 206 kW / 280 hp into the ring. BMW is baking much smaller cakes and is approaching the segment from the bottom up with the 3 Series Compact.

It may be hard to believe, but 30 years ago Alfa Romeo was still really active. However, Fiat’s increasing influence was noticeable on the new Golf opponent, the Alfa Romeo 145, as the three-door car with the distinctive sloping curve in the lower line of the door window shared parts of the technology with the Fiat Tipo. The same applies to the brothers Alfa Romeo Spider and GTV of the 916 series, which will also celebrate their thirtieth anniversary in 2024. The same applies to Alfa for Fiat, which was still a real VW competitor at the time and is now on the Stellantis sideline. Cars like the charming Fiat Punto Cabrio and the Fiat Coupé, whose shapes actually came from the pen of later BMW design boss Chris Bangle, are still popular 30 years after their release.

In 1994, Opel was also even more of a jack of all trades and tried to build on its traditional history with the Omega B in the upper class. At almost five meters long, the Rüsselsheimer is a visual statement that not all engine variants can keep up with. In particular, the four-cylinder with only 85 kW / 116 hp does not do justice to the appearance of the lightning car. The more powerful six-cylinder and the steam-hammer V8 are a much better fit for Opel’s last rear-wheel drive model. A typical child of its time is the first Opel Tigra. Back then, the VW Polo III was a real highlight and a real cash cow. Like its bigger brother the Golf, the Wolfsburg small car (code 6N) is also a guaranteed bestseller. The VW small car is established and has a relative at its side: the Skoda Felicia is the first model from the Czech car manufacturer since it was taken over by the Volkswagen Group three years earlier. The strategy is clear and successful: solid VW technology, not the latest version but proven and at a good price.

Anyone who put a new Porsche 911 (993) convertible in their garage back then is now the king of chops at the ice cream parlors. The last air-cooled Neunelfer will be a sought-after classic car from 2024. The topless version of the second generation of the Saab 900 convertible still has fans today, even if for some the Swedish glider is just an Opel Vectra in different clothes. The straightforward design of the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet comes from Pininfarina and the car rolls off the assembly line in Italy. While we’re already heading south of the Alps, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that the Ferrari 355 will also be able to have an H license plate screwed onto the body in 2024. A competitor to the fiery Italian is the Aston Martin DB7, which three-time Formula 1 world champion Jackie Stewart is testing during the development phase. Basically the same role that Walter Röhrl fills at Porsche. Two other Brits, the fifth edition of the Jaguar XJ and the Range Rover 2, are more sedate. The new edition of the British off-road vehicle is long overdue, as the first generation has already been on the road for 24 years.

Thirty years ago, Asians also made their presence felt in Germany. The number one Toyota RAV4 is coming to Germany. The Toyota Celica VI is already better known in this country. The sporty coupé with the registration T20 looks out at the world with four headlights. The emphatically athletic shapes are not for everyone, but the formula of power instead of kilos follows basic racing principles. The first generation of the Kia Sportage takes a different path. At that time, the products from Korea were still really exotic and scored more for their price. The Renault Laguna will be delivered at the beginning of 1994 and from then on will exude French flair in the middle class.