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London, 08 – 11 January 2015

A new classic show on the calendar, and in the heart of London’s Docklands at the ExCel exhibition centre, with its easy transport links to the centre of the capital, and close proximity to London City airport, making for easy travel for visitors, whether coming from home or abroad. The show opened with a VIP preview evening on Thursday 08 January, which featured interviews and discussions with motor sport personalities like David Coulthard, Martin Brundle, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Adrian Newey, with MC duties handled by BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, who is also an avid classic car enthusiast. Also in attendance were Top Gear presenter James May, together with celebrity chef James Martin, who also had a “Classic Cafe” at the event, where he displayed his collection of Minis.

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The format of the exhibition layout was a single long hall with a central divide, which was named The Grand Avenue, with a diverse display of cars participating in the demonstration drives ranged on either side of it. At one end was the high level main stage, with the Grand Avenue Club enclosure below and beneath it. In each corner of the hall were themed displays, The Motorsport Magazine Hall of Fame, Le Mans Icons, Adrian Newey Cars and James May’s Cars That Changed the World. The areas either side of the Grand Avenue were mainly the province of a wide variety of classic car vendors, one make car clubs and manufacturers stands, notably Aston Martin, Citroen and Maserati, who all had cars from their history and current models on display.

The mobile aspect of the show was a breath of fresh air at a classic car show, where the exhibits are normally static, particularly at indoor venues like this, but this approach gave enthusiasts the opportunity to see the cars in motion, and to also hear them, and to smell the fumes emitted. The cars taking part spanned nine decades, and ranged from a 1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash model, which is credited with being the first mass produced automobile, with around 19,000 examples being produced between 1901 and 1907, through a great variety of cars through the years. These included what is believed to be the only surviving example of the Morris 8 Military Wireless Car, legendary racing cars like the Bugatti Type 35B, the Jaguar C-Type, Maserati 250F, McLaren M23 F1, JPS Lotus 87 F1, plus street cars like the Ferrari 250 GT California Spider, AC Cobra and Lamborghini Miura.

The Le Mans Icons feature had a fine selection of post war sports racing cars, including a Ferrari 512 S, Ford GT40, Jaguar XJR9, Porsche 956, McLaren F1 GTR and Bentley Speed Eight. The Motorsport Legends display included in its numbers an Alfa Romeo Tipo B, a Ferrari 500 F2, a BRM V16, a Vanwall, a Lotus 25, a Tyrrell 006 a Lotus 97T, and a Benetton B193. This was celebration of people in motor sport, hence these cars represented Tazio Nuvolari, Enzo Ferrari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Adrian Newey is without doubt the most successful F1 designer of all time, and this was celebrated with a display of cars that he has designed and also of cars from his own collection. At the age of 12 he helped his father build a Lotus Elan from a kit, that one could buy at the time, to avoid paying purchase tax, and on the Thursday evening the organisers surprised him, when this exact car was driven up the Grand Avenue whilst he was on the main stage, definitely an emotional moment for him.

The numerous vendor displays also contained a wide variety of delectable machinery, notably that of Joe Macari, with an extensive display of sixties and seventies Ferrari models. These included a 250 GT Lusso, a 275 GTS, a 330 GTC in mid restoration, a 365 GTB4 and a Dino 246 GT, whilst he also had a 500 TRC sports racing model outside the main entrance to promote the show. Williams used the show to announce their new Heritage division, with a display of three historic Williams F1 cars, a 1981 FW07C, a 1993 FW15C and a 2003 FW25. This will provide sales, maintenance, transport and running of their historic F1 cars for private clients.

The net result was a show with a great selection of machinery to enjoy in both static and mobile form, which seemed to hit the right note with the paying public, as the attendance figures for an inaugural show, over 25,000 people, exceeding the expectations of the organisers. With a successful show under their belt, they are planning for even greater things in 2016.

Keith Bluemel