Regular pilgrims to the NEC Classic Motor Show will know what to expect from this goliath event. Book the vast NEC to mark the end of the classic car season, pick a theme – this year it’s the ‘Big Screen’ – and then fill it with all manner of classic car-related doings and attractions.
Over 250 car club stands catering for different marques, models and regions? Uh-huh. All sort of motors from different eras – from vintage to retro? Indeedy. The Classic Bike Show piggy-backing off the CMS? Oh yeah. The restoration theatre? Of course. Meguiars Club Showcase? A highly polished and immaculately presented ‘yes’. Wheeler Dealers in residence on the Live Stage with a limitless flow of Red Bull? Naturally. An auction plus a wide range of classic dealers offering temptation and silly prices in equal measure? Yup. So that’s a full house – bingo!
Year on year, this event seems to be swallowing up more and more of the NEC site, no surprise then that the show is getting ever busier. However, being fickle media tarts with a low boredom threshold, it’s all about the shiny untarnished stuff – the new attractions.
Two manufacturers rocked on up for the first time – Jaguar and Porsche – with the former, the local boy, comprehensively winning the title of the show’s most impressive stand. Showcasing Jaguar Heritage’s recent expansion – including its run of ‘missing’ Lightweight E-types – the stand was peppered with first class examples from the great firm’s past.
Porsche GB meanwhile showcased a sizeable array of 911 Turbo and Targa models, which had entered the marque’s classic restoration competition which tied in with the launch of the latest Targa model and the 40th anniversary of the blown Porker. Needless to say, a couple of Targas ended up with a Gez Hughes stuck to them dribbling. I though, was less enthusiastic, more cold and indifferent – a bit like a Porsche really, but at least my engine is in the right place…
Making its debut too was the Classic Club Stage which is intended to help clubs attract more members – in a time of declining numbers – via increased exposure. Advice was also on hand in respect of funding, the interweb, anti-social media etc. Hosted by Quentin Wilson, guests will include notables from the classic industry such as the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, specialists, and members of the classic car press.
It was all very big and very busy – almost to the point of being bewildering. Given other commitments we did our best to tackle his beast in one day, but you really do need two. Favourites? I was glad to see a pair of V6-engined transaxle Alfas – a 75 and GTV6. Plus the sight of a 1954 Vignale-bodied Aston and a Ford Anglia Friary – a fastbacked touring conversion by ED Abbott Ltd, which is the only roadworthy one in the UK – kept my inner-anorak happy. Then there was a lovely T120-engined Featherbed Triton, a pair of Lambretta Lambros, a superb Wolseley 2200, a wrapped matt-black TR7, what must be the UK’s finest FIAT Uno Turbo and I experienced strange guilty lust for a mint Reliant Regal…
Was there anything which could have been better? Increasingly, getting into the venue from the M42 is proving problematic with east-bound traffic queuing up three miles before the junction (taking some people a full hour to get in and get parked). And while we understand that more floor space equals a higher admission price, prices are getting borderline – particularly given it’s about time the NEC did something about its terrible orange lighting to help the smaller clubs, exhibitors and happy-snapper visitors.
(Oh and in case you haven’t seen enough of the NEC’s many lovely exhibits, here are a few more pix..)