Events : Report – Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show

Words: Keith Adams
Photography: Richard Kilpatrick, with additional images by James Tibbs, Jason Maycock, Callum Collie, Paul Whitehead, Martyn Kelham and Keith Adams

NEC Classic Motor Show (2)

The Classic Motor Show has been running now for 30 years, and just as the classic car scene is booming in popularity, it seems that the UK’s largest indoor show is going from strength to strength. Around 65,000 visitors made it to the NEC, and speaking to regular show goers, the National Exhibition Centre was busier in 2013 than it’s been before – with Saturday, particularly, rammed by people clamouring to get a glimpse of the UK’s best selection of classic cars.

And so it should – the classic car industry is now estimated to be worth £7bn per year in the UK alone. In 2013, there were 11 halls to choose from, with supercars, Youngtimers, classics and vintage/veteran cars fully represented. The Silverstone Auction grew to a two-day event, and  sold 85 of its cars, for a total of £2.8 million, doubling last year’s inaugural sale total of £1.3 million.

Winner of Meguiar’s Club Showcase final was the Jaguar XK150, owned by William Baldwin. William’s car won the grand prize, beating 16 other finalists that included an MGB, a Golf Cabriolet, a Lamborghini Miura, a Ford Escort RS1800. The culmination of over 50 events across the country and the cars represented the very finest from across the British classic car landscape and the quality of William’s car was second-to-none. And Jason Field won the Classic Car of The Year during the event.

Special guests at the show included Sir Stirling Moss, Theo Paphitis, Edd China, Mike Brewer, Quentin Willson, Steve Berry, Norman Dewis, David Soul and Jon Bentley.

Once again, the show proved exceptionally strong, highlighting some of the problems with the venue – more people mumbled about the cost of tickets and parking, and security for the exhibitors was well below par, with at least one of the important businesses losing a trailer during the weekend. The cuisine continued to spark debate, and despite there being plenty of access onto the site, the queues of cars entering the NEC snaked back on to the M6 at at least one point during the weekend.

But let’s not get bogged down with that – and instead, remember that the show is all about the cars. And we hope that this gallery will persuade anyone who’s yet to make the visit to make the trek in 2014. Enjoy the gallery of the best of British below.

Best of British at the NEC Classic Motor Show

Keith Adams


  1. I have to say, the size of the show is positively exhausting for me. You need to take the three days, really, to enjoy taking the cars in. And the trade stands, the autojumble, the tools and products available to the restorer – I could spent a day just taking in either discounted tools or exciting new technologies (has there been a demonstration of 1990s ‘supercars and high-end classics’ being plugged into diagnostic systems and the use of computers for tuning, repairing and buying, for example). I think I saw about a third of it in real terms and couldn’t walk.

    Some stands are cottoning on to the lighting issues and using good, daylight balanced spotlights, but it’s still depressing to see the most beautiful cars displayed until horrific, dim, orange lights. You simply can’t see the subtlety of some finishes and shades.

    Either way, the Friday was well attended and yet there was enough room to walk around most areas, people seemed relaxed and were enjoying the show.

    Managed not to bid on any cars during the auction, but that’s because they were selling watches.

  2. I really will have to attend one of these events,one of the lads from work attended saturday to view his friends classic scooters.

  3. The Rover SD1 stand had the actual yellow Hepolite Glacier Vitesse driven to victory in the wet 1983 ETC Tourist Trophy at Silverstone by Steve Soper and Rene Metge. I wuz there !

  4. Some nice pictures. Missed the even this year due to my Imp absorbing yet more money… Always looked forward to the event (been going off and on for the last 15 years), Nice to see the Rover 75 and Simca’s on the stand and the usual out of reach stuff like Alvis, Jags, Vintage Lancia’s and Alfa’s but also the more unusual clubs like Tatra and Eastern Block stuff not forgetting yesterdays once common chariots.

    Used to set off from Co Durham about 5am on the Sunday but is a trashy day travelling nearly 400 miles round trip 3 half hrs (on a good run, but always a number of accident’s mean over an hour more Journey time), not to mention Fuel Costs, Parking Costs, Even Subway Food Is Dearer, means an expensive Day out that’s without the Auto Jumble.

    Still roll on next year, perhaps I may be able to spread the event over 2-3 days.

  5. Bit harsh on the venue!

    Go by train, bring a packed lunch, get your drink there! And it’s bad that the trailer was taken, but not enough to write off the security there?!

    As for the size of the show, as I didn’t see everything, I’ll be back next time!

  6. I’ve just come back from a trip to the Saturday event. It was fantastic and I’m looking forward to next year but I might go 2 or 3 days. So many cars …. so little time
    Also, a big hello to the BRM club, who made me feel right at home.
    Re parking- stick your car somewhere along the 900 bus route and pay £3.90 approx for a return ticket.

  7. @5 and 6 Yes Looked into getting the Train but it costs even more than the fuel and takes longer (no direct route so depending on the times 2 or 3 different Trains) whist should research parking near transport system but is all down to security/convenience as carrying Auto jumble Swag isn’t much fun even on the short distance to the car parks on the NEC transport (Was the old Classic Buses on this year?).

    I always car share to the NEC, As mentioned Nice but still an expensive day out.

  8. I felt rather the same as Richard – it was exhausting and I am getting too old for it ! Cars of the show for me were a 1939 Black 4 litre Sunbeam Talbot saloon – I had never seen one before and only about 20 were made , and a collection of pre-war Triumph Dolomites/ Glorias . Lots of nice people to talk to : particular thanks go to a man who let me sit in his Stag to see if my head would hit the roof – it did!

  9. Illness prevented me from attending this year, so I am disappointed that I have missed so much, particularly my good friends on the BRM club stand.

    Regarding comments about poor access to the NEC, traffic queues and the increasing cost of parking, I did raise this with the NEC’s management last year after the Classic Motor Show had closed its doors. My efforts were rewarded with a standard corporate letter dismissing the above raised issues as being ‘problems’. To the NEC’s management, they experience no problems with traffic queues, poor signage or the cost of parking.

    @ Richard Kilpatrick:

    I did also raise in my communication last year about the dim, orange lights in some of the halls. No surprise to find that this part of my correspondence was not replied to! I genuinely can’t see this changing in the foreseeable future so it is a quirk we will have to continue to associate with the NEC.

    Despite this and the fact that the cheapest way to get to the NEC from Devon is to drive there, I will definitely look to attend in 2014 as it really is an event I hate to miss.

    In the meantime, I particularly like the photo of that 1991 Model Year Rover 827 Sterling.

  10. A great show, although tiring, you need much more than a day! We were manning the 800 stand, so great to see some pictures in the gallery. Especially my gold coupé – thank you.

  11. I attended on Sunday, a great show as always apart from the lighting, I parked in the train station car park for £5 that’s when I eventually arrived because the M42 was closed with No diversion signs from the North bound M5.

    Great to see the 80/90’s Austin Rovers on show especially the Maestros, Metros and the 800’s.

    The 800 stand was impressive a credit to Alex and the team, but attracted the crowds for the live stage who mingled and around the cars to watch Mike, Edd and co.

    No Rover 200/400’s apart from 2 Coupes from the rover coupe club, also when will the time come for the Rover 600 to be welcomed on the classic scene.

  12. Truly fantastic show. Thankfully I am blessed with a lovely wife who enthusiastically joins me in this hobby – so such events are a real joy. We will be driving to the Essen Show in the spring but this UK event was thoroughly enjoyable. Given the choice there was a very nice Wolseley 15/50 on the Wolseley stand but for sheer design and execution brilliance I would have to mention the Land-crab Van and Pick-Up – absolutely stunning!
    We received great welcomes from two of the three clubs we are members of – but ignored completely by the Alfa Owners Club people – perhaps they always do that to a guy wearing an Alfa Owners Club Jacket!!!

  13. That’s me doing robotics by a pink minor million in the top lol
    First time to this for me and couldn’t believe the scale of it compared to the January Autosport show. Some extraordinary cars and I’m proud to say that an XJS or 800 Coupe will be on my drive next year.

  14. @ Neil Rapsey: The 600 will become part of the classic fold when the cars owners do something about it. There is no 600 forum, no 600 owner’s club – just a bit of a presence on sites such as Rovertech. If someone with a 600 launched a forum or a Facebook page and made a bit of noise about it then it would get noticed.

  15. It was a great and varied event. The only negatives was the venue itself, it was too busy on saturday and the really poor lighting, and the cost!! (An extra 10er to park (are we to come on our broom stick) on top of the circa 20 quid to get in is robbery, then nearly another 10er for a baguette and coffee) oh and the terrible maps in the show guide. But the toilets were clean and plenty of.

    Thank you to all that took the time to show their cars, there was some truly fantastic cars displayed. I also enjoyed some car chat with some friendly and knowledgeable owners. It has really given me the bug to go out and get a classic of some sort. Well done all for making it a great day!

  16. @richard moss, maybe it’s time for me to step up with an idea, something needs to be done before they all disappear.

  17. Had a great show as usual. Got round it all this year but it took all day! Glad that the Rover 800 forum are forming a proper club and I am going to be organising the national events next year! So many great things to see.

  18. I was there right through from Thurs to Sun working the Rover P6 Club’s stand. And even 4 days was barely enough to get round everything. This was comfortably the biggest and busiest NEC show I’ve ever been to. The Saturday in particular felt like a football stadium was emptying through the aisles! For me, the best part was being there at 7:30 each day and having a good hour and a half to myself in the peace and tranquillity before the public got in with 4000+ cars all around me. Met some great people, nattered away with all sorts of other clubs, and sat in some beautiful metal! All in all a brilliant weekend.

  19. @15 Ashley
    Just be grateful for the varied choice of reasonably good (for a show) food. Compared to the Essen Show last year it was a five star restaurant!!! The food there really was rubbish by anyone’s standards. The secret at the NEC we found (if your tummy clock can cope) was to eat at 12 or 2 – no problem with queues. I was a bit put out with the ten pound Parking fee though – how come we don’t pay to park for the MotorHome show? It’s just as busy and international and represents a bigger turnover industry?

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