By November the weather is certainly heading towards winter and thoughts are not normally of classic car shows. Luckily the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham is around to satisfy our needs. This show is now in its 30th year and filled a record 11 halls of the National Exhibition Centre. There were about 269 motoring clubs and 600 trade stands, displaying over 1,500 cars and 300 motorbikes. A pair of comfortable shoes and an ample supply of food and drink would certainly be needed.
With the show being so huge many visitors opt for a two or three day pass and make a weekend of it. This year I was only able to attend for one day so along with a couple of friends set of very early in the morning to maximise our stay. Our journey took about two hours by road and, after the usual delays due to the number of visitors, we arrived at one of the many show entrances.
The first club stands we saw belonged to the numerous Austin and Morris clubs with our favourite being the Morris Motors Band Bus on display with the Morris Commercials. The bus was built on a Morris truck chassis, which did limit the design but it has been beautifully restored and is now on permanent display at the Oxford Bus Museum.
On through Hall 18 passing the Ford car displays, which showed the incredible range of vehicles that the maker produced even since the 1950s. Into the next hall with many single marque car club stands and restorer displays. Many classic car retailers were in this section together with an incredible display from Graeme Hunt Ltd, Kensington, London, who assisted me with an article about classic Range Rovers a few years ago. We then passed the Jaguar club stands into Hall 6 with a vast display of motorcycles from all eras. Further over we were back in the classic car section and visited the GCCG club stand. We chatted with a few friends and checked out the varied range of vehicles on display. They showed a 1920s Ford Model A Roadster, a 1979 Vauxhall Carlton and a 1990 Land Rover Defender 90 still with copious quantities of mud from its last excursion. Both the Ford Roadster and the Vauxhall Carlton got an amazing number of admirers probably due to their relative rareness.
Onwards into halls 7 and 8 and a stop off to admire the shining examples of Rovers, Audis, VWs, Opels and one of my favourite manufacturers, Skoda, who have an amazing heritage. Into the next hall and a sight to behold â€“ supercars and exotica in all directions from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Bugatti, and Aston Martin, who displayed the incredible 1972 DBS V8 by Ogle Design, of which only two were made. The bodywork is constructed from glass fibre and above the waistline is totally formed from glass supported on a tubular frame. The rear panel was manufactured from a single sheet of brushed stainless steel with 22 holes cut into it for the rear lights. The car has a single sideways rear seat which must make this the only post war three-seater Aston Martin.
Onwards now into the final halls with further displays of Triumphs, Swallows, Reliants and Vauxhalls to list just a few. The collections of American Cars were tucked over in the corner – although the cars were of a very high standard, there were not many on display which was a disappointment. There was however a very interesting and accurate replica of a 1990s Pontiac Trans Am Police Interceptor, with an array of original equipment from the era.
By this time we were getting tired and the show was getting ready to close for the day. We wound our way towards the car parks on foot rather than waiting an age for the buses to arrive. By this time many visitors had already left and trip from the NEC was relatively easy except for the signage on the roundabout for the M6 Toll which was very misleading. Maybe next year we travel by train â€¦or maybe not!