Blame the recession. The biennial German event is traditionally Europe's biggest by far, but for 2011 a large number of new model programmes delayed for the recession backed into the many that continued as usual, only to be hit from behind by others that were rushed forward once their backers discovered that great cars would still sell.
Each of the top German prestige marques now has its own huge stand at Frankfurt's exhibition centre - elaborate, Taj Mahal-like structures that seem completely at odds with the financial uncertainties that continue to swirl across Europe. But for the Big Three there is no slow-down. Just take Audi at the show: if you counted everything from their A5 coupe's facelift to their urban mobility concepts (via the revival of an A2 model as a baby battery saloon) you had eight or nine new products. The same went for Mercedes and BMW.
Britain's own Jaguar and Land Rover showed models that were well executed, credible and handsome. You couldn't quite believe how much an international audience seemed to care about a proposal to replace the 63-year-old Defender that sells fewer than 20,000 copies a year, yet they swarmed around it, and most comments seemed positive. The lovely Jaguar C-X16 attracted even more attention, though it had a serious drawback: its awkward positioning with the Land Rovers and away from the rest of the Jaguars.