Events : NEC Classic Motor Show 2015

Alexander Boucke

Wond best club stand: Basil Fawlty giving a damn good thrashing

The 2015 Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show broke records by attracting more visitors than ever before – a little short of 69,000 attendees made it through the doors to Birmingham’s NEC, and enjoyed the final big show in the UK’s motoring calendar. There was a lot to see, with 2500 classic cars and motorcycles on display.

Show highlights were many and varied, and the theme was ‘She’s a beauty’. This included a re-enactment of the Miss World beauty pageant on the Lancaster Insurance stand – with a Gordon Keeble receiving the crown from Wheeler Dealers’ Mike Brewer. The 10th anniversary of the Meguiar’s Club Showcase saw Alexander Louden from Country Antrim lift the crystal vase for his 1939 MG TB. Alexander saw off stiff competition with only two points separating him from his nearest rival.

Best in show from the inaugural Pride of Ownership competition for classic cars went to the stunning skiff-bodied 1926 Packard 420 restored by boat builder Steve Mills from Long Eaton. Second place went to Richard Water’s 1962 Austin A40 Farina, while third place was awarded to the 1957 Meadow Frisky, owned by Malcolm Dudley.

The Discovery Channel’s Wheeler Dealers Live Stage was filled with celebrity hosts such as Mike Brewer, Edd China, Ant Anstead and Fuzz Townshend, and special guests including Ross Brawn and Sir Stirling Moss. A 1998 Mazda MX-5 was ‘restored’ during the show, and was then driven away by Christine Fenlon from Wolverhampton, who won the car in a competition for all the visitors who had booked advanced tickets before the end of October.

Best club stand was won by the 1100 Club for their recreation of the famous scene “a damn good thrashing” from Fawlty Towers to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TV series.

Another 40th anniversary was the one of the launch of the BL 18-22 range, better known as the BL Princess. The club managed to put together cars badged as Austin, Morris and Wolseley from the launch year – an impressive sight considering that there are believed to be less than 10 cars from the short run before they were re-launched as the Princess.

Other notable cars included the Queen’s Vauxhall Cresta Estate, Peter O’Toole’s Mini, a Metro Tickford Frazer, a Crayford Morris 1300, an Allegro Cabriolet, an Austin 1800 Ute and many more that probably went unnoticed by the author.

The show has grown over the years and was now larger than ever before. Even the keen visitor would have struggled to see all of the stands in a single day. Compared to some other major shows, the relation between trade and clubs was quite well balanced, although some clubs – literally – looked to have been pushed to the sides. These stands located along the walls were very long and narrow, a rather awkward shape for a good club display.

Despite being easy to reach by budget flights, there seemed to be fewer international visitors in comparison with other major European shows. However, for those interested in Classic British cars, particularly the less prestigious makes, the show is certainly amongst the most attractive events.

Prices are on the way up though – and that does not only relate to values of classic cars. Asking £12 for parking on top of the entrance ticket of £23 seems excessive.

Daniel Nwaokolo, Event Director, said: ‘The response to this year’s show is phenomenal. Thanks to all those who made it such a huge success – exhibitors, visitors, clubs and our fantastic celebrities. The standard of classics presented by the clubs, exhibitors, and the new Pride of Ownership entries set the bar at a new level.’

The 2016 Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show will return to Birmingham’s NEC from 11-13 November.


Alexander Boucke


  1. Four hours well spent, and there was still so much more to see.

    I’d never come across the Frisky name before. Apart from Jensen, I hadn’t realised until recently that so many different cars were manufactured over the years in the Black Country, including several land speed record holders.

    And is it any coincidence the Frisky is owned by a Mr Dudley?! (which is in the Black Country).

  2. To save that £12 parking fee, park at Hampton in Ardern station and take a 3 minute each way, £2.10 return train ride.
    That Cortina Mark 3 looks a bit rough, but the two door saloons are rare now, especially above L trim.
    Allegro convertible and Land Crab ute – my goodness.

  3. Yes the Cortina looks rough at the moment (GXL?). My company used to have a Daytona yellow MKIII 1.6 Estate.

    Love the Signal Yellow Cav MKI GL too… and the three Wedges in Austin, Morris & Wolesley versions. Also love the ADO16’s and Riley Kestrel. Thanks for sharing these photos and report!

  4. The Cortina badge does look like GXL but I don’t remember them being available as 2 doors. I wonder if it’s been converted from a GT or an XL ?

    I had a Cortina GXL 2.0 once – positively the worst car I’ve ever owned. Never a week went by without something going wrong or falling off, the fuel consumption was horrendous and it wallowed like a dinghy.

  5. Nice to see the fastback Triumph 2000.

    Looking at it, it bears a remarkable resemblance to the BMW 5 series GT!

  6. A very enjoyable show although I felt something was missing this year. In some of the Halls the car club stands seemed rather crammed in together whereby they lacked a visible identity/prominence beyond the cars on display. This was not a fault of the car clubs, before anyone asks, more the event’s organisers. Oh, and the all-too familiar problem of poor lighting in some of the Halls.

    As I wondered round I found more space had been devoted to motor traders selling high end-priced cars than in previous years, a very loud auction (I promptly left) and less traders selling either valeting products or old sales brochures and car magazines. Perhaps the cost of hiring a pitch has gone up and it has put off some traders?

    That said, I had the most enjoyment visiting the car clubs and enjoying the sight of so much variety, including some examples which still displayed welcome signs of every day use patina. Hurray, cars that are used! That said, I really did go all misty eyed over the sight of that regular use MG Maestro 2.0i on the Meguiars Pride of Ownership display. It was stunning, had a lovely story behind it and was bringing back some very happy thoughts about my own example.

    Did I spot anyone famous? Only Keith Adams!

  7. Spent the Sat and Sunday there. My phone app tells me I walked 9 miles round all the stands.

    Some really great displays but only two MGFs despite it being the 20th anniversary of the last Birmingham built sports car. Also unless I missed it, there wasn’t a great Rover 75 presence.

    Never mind, but ve now overdosed on classics until next years. So many glorious cars. The Rover stand was great as was the display of Metros and Fiestas.

    Terry from Minder’s Capri, a whole row of adorable Lotus Excel Eclat and Elite. Princess Wedges, Tickfords, Crayfords, a Landy with a loo seat on the front.

    I’ve had my fix of Range Rovers too. I seriously considered buying a CSK that I saw but common sense in the shape of my wife brought me down to earth.

    The one car I loved out of them all? It had to be the mud-splattered Matra Rancho.

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