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.