Saturday 26th November 2011
The NEC, Birmingham
As a lover of old motors there is one event in particular that I enjoy heading to which always welcomes me with open arms each year to continue fuelling my passion, and that’s the Classic Motor Show in Birmingham.
Each year the attendance figures get higher and higher with 47,000 people visiting this year. There were a staggering six halls filled with over 1400 classic cars, 230 clubs, 576 exhibitors and 346 trade stands. There was also a live stage with a 3 day jam-packed timetable that was hosted by TV’s Wheeler Dealers Mike Brewer and Edd China. They restored a 1972 Mk5 Triumph Spitfire with parts and equipment provided by CES, Rimmer Bros and Strongman.
I wade my way through a sea of people getting tickets scanned, collecting souvenir guides, and those standing there in awe at what is before them and wondering where to start. As I head further through the first car that I spot is a Volvo P1800 at the CJ Autos stand advertising ramps. Although it wasn’t the exact one, the car is most famous for it’s appearance in the 60’s TV show ‘The Saint’ and was driven by Roger Moore. Apparently Patrick McGoohan declined the role because he didn’t like the car.
Continuing forth with my hands in my pockets and my mouth wide open I pass the Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Maserati, Bugatti, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and Lotus stalls, and I’m stopped by what I see next – the insides of a Rolls Royce, which isn’t for the faint hearted! A rot free shell with it’s engine on show pushed up excitement levels at being able to see those areas of a car that no owner should ever have to see.
Ford had a large selection of stalls this year with many vehicles on show such as the Capri, Granada, Zephyr, Zodiac, and Cortina. There were lots of old family favourites but a RS200 caught my eye. Manufactured by Ford for the purpose of entering in to rallying and only 200 were ever made. Even with powerful engines that went like poop off a stick, seemingly Ford didn’t get very far with the RS200 and tragically in 1986 Marc Surer who was racing in the Hessen-Rallye crashed in to a tree killing his co-driver Michel Wyder.
Rallying aside, Ford is a hugely successful company and their Model T car is regarded as the world’s first mass-produced car. There was a Model T on display and it was the Ford car that climbed Ben Nevis in 1911 which was driven by Henry Alexander Jr, the son of the owner. It was all part of a publicity stunt which was repeated in 1928 with a Model A Ford.
Sporting Bear Dream Rides are at the NEC each year offering rides for up to 10 miles in dream cars for a minimum donation to a charity of your choice. It’s always great to see the many cars to choose from and watching those leaving and arrive back with such big grins on their faces. Just as I arrived in the hall it was being announced that there was one slot that had freed up for a ride in a Mustang GT500 Eleanor – It was going to be someone’s lucky day! http://www.sportingbears.org.uk/ This year they raised a brilliant £34,000-£36,000.
Moving through halls things were getting bigger, and by bigger I mean that we’d hit the Classic American stalls. Though my knowledge lackens I’ve always loved American cars, they’re simply amazing to look at for their shapes, sizes and detail.
Straight out of America and in to Germany I’m taken to a land where I could chew ears off for hours – Volkswagens. This Historic Volkswagens club, Volkswagen Owners Club of GB, and the Split Screen Van club make an appearance each year but never fail to surprise with their collection of aircooled wonders on display. I then spot the car that typically to the untrained eye on a possible dark night, is often mistaken for a VW Beetle, the Morris Minor. There was no mistaking these though, 6 Morris barn finds that were found 16 weeks ago in one families back garden in Kent all from around the 1930’s and in amazing condition.
We get so use to seeing recovery vehicles on the roads but have you ever wondered about vehicle recovery back in the day? Being from Leicester ourselves it was exciting to see a 1931 Ford AA truck with ‘Unity Garage Leicester’ written on the side of it. An absolute gem that was in excellent condition, and also appeared in the Leicester Mercury 4 days later after being sent out as a gesture to recover an Austin 7 http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/Surprise-classic-car-towed-vintage-truck/story-13874287-detail/story.html
As with each year there are prizes to be won for the best cars and the judges certainly had their work cut out with so many great cars to choose from. The winners were as follows:
Meguiar’s Club Showcase winner: Bill Donaldson of South Yorkshire with 1966 Austin Healey 3000 Mk3.
Bauer Media’s Classic Car of the Year winner: Howard Rathbone from West Yorkshire with his 1969 Jaguar E Type Series II that he’s owned for 35 years and rebuilt the entire car.
Classic American Car of the Year winner: Gavin Shaw from Farnborough with his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.
Car of the Show: Gifford Wright’s 1935 Singer Le Mans in which Betty Haig won the 1936
Olympic RallyClub of the Year: MX-5 Owners’ ClubClub Personality of the Year: Steve Guest, Warwickshire and West Midlands regional organiser for the TVR Car Club
The Car that melts the judges’ hearts: Ian Kellett’s Standard Vanguard race transporter and Vanguard Racer
Most interesting selection of cars: Club Peugeot UK
Andy Rouse, Show Manager, said: “2011 has surpassed all our expectations and once again the bar has been raised in terms of the cars, the bikes, and the overall presentation. From seeing the traders in action and business being done at the show, it proves the UK classic motoring movement continues to be bouyant in the current economic climate. “For the fifth year running, TV’s Wheeler Dealers Mike Brewer and Edd China worked tirelessly to entertain the crowds, with the live stage offering standing room only, all day, everyday. We were also delighted with the visitor’s response to the appearance of Carl Fogarty and Frankie Chili in the Classic Motorbike Show, as it continues to develop and grow. “We’d like to thank visitors, exhibitors, motoring clubs and all involved for their tremendous support and look forward to welcoming everyone back from 16th to 18th November 2012.”