Events : Report – Footman James Classic Motor Show

Words: Keith Adams Photography: Keith Adams and Richard Kilpatrick

Once again, the National Exhibition Centre hosted the UK’s largest indoor classic car motor show – but, this year, it attracted a record number of visitors: 58,000, up from 50,000 in 2011. Showgoers were clogging up the M6 and M42 attempting to get in, which must be a good sign in the run up to Christmas in what has been a grim year for those following the nation’s economy.

But the scale of the show is what attracts the crowds – there were 11 halls to choose from, with classics ranging from the scruffiest of Citroen BXs to the 200mph-plus Lamborghini Aventador or Jaguar XJ220. Around 250 clubs and 43 car dealers were represented, showing 1500 cars – a great selection.

For the first time, there was a classic car auction to accompany the show, too. The inaugural Silverstone Auction’s total sale value was £1.1m with 60% converted to new owners (low, but about average in the current market). The number of Dream Rides given during the show was about 1000 and raised around £30,000 plus Gift Aid which should give a minimum final total of £35,000.

Winner of Meguiar’s Club Showcase final: 1972 Volkswagen Beetle 1200 Deluxe owned by Wayne McCarthy from Ireland. Only five points separated the top four. Wheeler Dealer Live Stage with Mike Brewer and Edd China – restored a 1960 Morris Minor Pick Up. Special guests at the show included Sir Stirling Moss, TT Riders Guy Martin and Mick Grant, Red Dwarf star Chris Barrie, comedian Steve Coogan, actress Natalie J Robb, Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis and Jon Bentley.

The format of the NEC show is so well established that we won’t go into too much detail about the whys and wherefores but just say that between the clubs, dealers, and manufacturers the car selection was brilliant. There were also quite a few cars not seen before by the AROnline team of Keith Adams and Richard Kilpatrick, which made the trip genuinely worthwhile. Seeing a Mumford Marina convertible or Crayford Fiesta Fly up close for the first time was a genuine delight. The one-off Jensen S-V8 coupe was also a high point.

The NEC has been the home of the British International Motor Show since 1978 and, although we’ve lost the international new car show, in many ways the classic show is a preferable alternative. It could be argued that the classic car show is showcased perfectly here, as the venue retained nearly all of its ’70s atmosphere – right down to the cuisine and appalling lighting. There’s one thing that feels bang-up-to-date, though, and that’s the cost of parking there…

Enjoy the gallery below.

Keith Adams


  1. That Mumford TC is Linda Lusadis old car I believe and worthy of a restoration article all of its own on this site as it was truly rotten when found.

  2. I have just got back home after spending two days visiting the show. Very enjoyable it was with lots of cars I would love to give a new home to, if money and space was available.

    The only downside for me was the awful parking arrangements on the Friday where the familiar entrance into the site off Bickenhill Lane was closed. Instead there was a three mile detour and it took an hour to get in. Not very well organised by the managers of the NEC itself, and certainly not good for anyone turning up in a classic car (as I did) which might be prone to overheating in slow moving or stationary traffic. The car was okay although other visitors, including quite a few journalists, were less than happy by the delays and poor sign-posting for the alternative entrance into the NEC. I think the site’s managers assume we are all locals and know every entrance into this huge site.

  3. A good weekend as ever, a highlight for me was the mint MG 1300 and the rare Princess, complete with ‘leccy windows. More impressed with these than the £8m Audi….is that good or bad?

    I felt an uncomfortable feeling that commercialism is creeping slowly into the show, a new Peugeot 208 on display? And the once formidable auto jumble is smaller but prices higher.

    Some fantastic cars though and I could have easily spent ££££££’s. after seeing the prices of some cars on sale which were banger fodder 10 years ago, I am keeping my 75, it has to an investment!

    Thanks to the readers of this site who had ‘our’ cars on display, you did the old firm proud

  4. Drat, missed it again! Thanks for publishing the photos though.

    Shame about the costs involved in visiting the NEC. I was about the book tickets and parking for the Motorcycle Show there this year, until I saw the ticket and parking costs.

    A little confused to see the Chinese salon car on the MG stand, it would have been great to have seen a nice MG Montego Turbo there instead 🙂 Or how about one of the MG Maestro challenge cars?

    I would love to have seen the Rover SD1 stand up close. Come to think of it, the last time I went to the NEC for the Motor Show, the Solihull built SD1 was there on the BL stand!

  5. I really don’t mean to question the expertise of Mr. Adams, but I felt obliged to point out that picture 58 on my computer is the Bond Bug. Perhaps the gallery has been expanded since the original comment?

  6. Oh, I’d have been in my absolute element! Think I’ll have to attend the next one despite the expense of getting there, staying over etc

  7. I forgot to mention: Very nice gallery! I can’t believe I missed the ‘de Bruyne GT’ the first time. Is that the successor to the Gordon-Keeble GT1 or some other special version? I read a long time ago that de Bruyne’s replacement was “ugly” and tried to find images but the internet let me down. Not nearly as bad as I imagined!

  8. Just got back from a very enjoyable trip down motoring memory lane. The high-points? The fantastic Maserati stand, the Vauxhall corner with not only a drop-snoot Firenza and Chevette 2300HS, but also a group of FE Ventoras, a gorgeous estate, and a Viva 2300SL. The Lancia Betas were fabulous – especially the black Volumex coupe, there were 2 Stratos’, and the star of my show, the beautiful Gamma Coupe (if only I had £5k!), which I fell in love with! Low points – no Citroen CXs, the woeful Alfa Romeo stand (come on Alfisti – you can do better than that!), and the state of the interior of some of the cars – the owners re-build them, wax them to a glass-finish – you’f think they’d hoover out the interior! I’m thinking in particular of 2 particularly scruffy Fiats……

  9. David at post 3, I can confirm the parking arrangements on Saturday was even worse. We were turned away from three car parks by their utterly useless staff before being allowed to park in a car park where there was plenty of space and no queue. It took us much longer to get parked than the whole journey from home to the NEC.

    I am going to write to the NEC to complain because it was entirely avoidable and marred what was otherwise an enjoyable event.

  10. @ Matthew:

    “I am going to write to the NEC to complain because it was entirely avoidable and marred what was otherwise an enjoyable event.”

    I am also going to complain about this as this was clearly down to the NEC itself. This makes the steep rise (as a percentage) of parking over the past four years even more unjustifiable too.

  11. The car park is the sting in the tail and the charge is the best kept secret as it is never mentioned on the blurb. We arrived at 09.00 Sun so no problem parking and my personal review of dad’s cars and mine started with an 88″ Land Rover circa 1953 lots of Ford 100Es, Triumphs by the bucket ful including the first 1300 in Leeds as he used to sell them. Conclusion – weren’t cars small in the 1960s/1970s. Somehow no1 son was less impressed but the Wall of Death was £3 well spent

  12. I forgot to mention my highlight. Rover 3 litre convertable with proper two door conversion rather than the Rover 2000 with original doors.

  13. Fantastic show lots of memory’s with lots of fantastic cars. Went by train this year from Croydon – £32.00 all in. Highhlights – far to many to mention. Can’t wait for next year and will go for two days.

  14. Looks excellent, shame I couldn’t make it in the finish. How much was it to park?

    I noticed the dire lighting when I went a couple of years ago

  15. @ Tony:

    Parking was £10 a day this year – up £2 on last year and up £4 since 2007. This is set by the NEC Group itself, not the organisers of the Classic Motor Show. The lighting in most of the halls is still as dull and orange as it was when the British Motor Show was first staged at the NEC back in 1978.

  16. Friend of a friend was at it, posted pictures of an SD1 federal spec with the exposed lights on US plates (not german – should keep everyone happy 🙂 )

  17. I meant to get pictures of the Federal SD1, but (unusually, for that day) I couldn’t get to it and get a clear shot! Was clomping about a bit and couldn’t exactly sneak past people 🙂 Had a good peer at it though – one of the few cars I think would have carried off square lights rather better than round ones.

  18. Fantastic show. My camera packed up though. The Atwell Wilson motor museum had a stand there. One of their cars was a 9X engined gearless Mini complete with a copy of its logbook.
    Owner – Alec (Sir)

    The guy who had restored it gave a fascinating and detailed description of the principle of how the car worked.
    This Mini had no subframes, it had a beam axle at the rear, and the engine was bolted to some strengthening bars.

  19. @28 cheers, I am going the bike show on the 30th. Jeez, I moaned when it was £6

    I went to the 78 show twice…the pin Jag and Ogle Princess stick in my mind and the Lada 16000ES and FSO Polonez for some reason!

  20. Hi guys,did anyone manage to get a shot of my sd1 vitesse.My camera has made all my pics look like i have taken them through a venetian blind:-(First show i have ever attended after an 8 year restoration on her.thanks John

  21. @ JJ:

    I will ask a friend of mine who took a lot of photos of the Rovers, so he may well have taken one of your Vitesse. Particularly as he knows my grin gets wider and heart starts beating faster whenever I see one. I do recall it was a very nice Single-Plenum example finished in Targa Red, and I wanted to take it home (along with the Range Rover 25th Anniversary Final Edition on the adjacent stand).

  22. aww david thank you,took me 8 years to get her to this condition.Many a tear and severed thumb but got there in the end.Cant believe the very camera I used to document the resto packed in during the show!Im just dead chuffed to have been invited by the guys and gals from the club to show the vitesse.First show since the resto and by god did I have kittens worrying about it getting there and being good enough:-)thanks David.john(jj)

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