NEC classic car show draws 90K visitors

by Ian Kerr
18 November 2010 5 min read
NEC classic car show draws 90K visitors
Chris Barrie who was on the Hagerty stand for most of Friday entertaining the masses.

The Midlands was once home to literally hundreds of car and motorcycle manufacturers, from Austin to Wolseley cars and BSA to Velocette bikes, which were parked in driveways and garages around the world. The names are mostly memories now, cherished by “grippers” – those old blokes who grab your arm at vintage events, fix you with a steely gaze and tell you how they “sold one of these for five shillings.”

Times have changed, but Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC), located in the centre of this once automotive heartland, was recently packed with collectible cars and bikes as pristine as the day they left the factory.

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In fact, a time traveler may well have thought they had gone back to a car show from 1960. The show certainly matched the glitz and glamour of a modern show, confusing many people who had travelled to the same location for the modern Top Gear Live/MPH supercar show in nearby exhibition halls.

The Classic Motor Show took place over the weekend of November 12-14. Primarily a car event, it also offered a large dedicated area (two halls) for classic motorcycles, making a total of seven halls for the classic enthusiast.

Chris Barrie stars with Hagerty at the NEC Classic Car Show

Hagerty International was delighted to invite Chris Barrie to their stand on Friday 15th November at the NEC Classic Car Show.Chris, who is an avid classic car enthusiast and presenter of ‘Britain’s Greatest Machines’ and ‘Massive Speed’ is also recognised as a household favourite for his roles in Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire. He is concentrating on working within the classic car community, having developed a range of talks about his own experience of filming and driving a bewildering array of classic machines.“We’re delighted to have Chris joining us on the stand and his talks sound not only very informative, but also very amusing,” said Angus Forsyth, managing director of Hagerty. “It seems to be the perfect evening for a classic car club event”.“We’re delighted to have Chris joining us on the stand and his talks sound not only very informative, but also very amusing,” said Angus Forsyth, managing director of Hagerty. “It seems to be the perfect evening for a classic car club event”.“It is always good talking to like minded car people and the team at Hagerty is no exception”, said Barrie.

To put things into perspective, that’s more than 70,000 square metres (or over half a million square feet in classic terms), housing some 2,000 vehicles. Not forgetting stands selling parts, tools and services to assist in ongoing restorations (aren’t they all?) and companies offering tours and events to put the vehicles to good use when completed.

Organisers estimate the Classic Motor/Motorbike show attracted 46,000 visitors and the crossover from the nearby Top Gear Live/MPH Supercar show meant about 90,000 people saw the show. The sheer size and diversity of this event puts modern motorcycle and car shows in the shade. On display were vehicles, marques and models from a near 100-year range. Veteran, vintage, classic and the fast growing future classic cars mirrored what has been happening in the motorcycle world for some time.

Certainly many of the tools and services (such as chroming) on offer were useful to both two- and four-wheel restorers. Talking of which, the legendary Ace Café provided a link between the various groups. The cafe has reopened and is once again supplying tea, coffee and food to car drivers, motorcyclists and truck drivers alike.

In its heyday the café on London’s North Circular Road was the scene of clashes between ‘Mods and Rockers’, so the cafe organised a concours for café racers and scooters with some superb examples of the genres gracing either side of their stand next to the stage.

Here could be found legends like ‘Fast’ Freddie Spencer over from the States and seven times TT winner Mick Grant who has just released his autobiography and was there to promote it, as well as to ride in the classic trials demonstration in one of the halls.

Also showing how much cars and bikes have in common were examples of 1930s V-twin, three-wheeled Morgans, along with 1950s micro cars, powered by small 2-stroke motorcycle engines.

A period rockabilly DJ was a hit with the crowd as he spun swing, rock ‘n’ roll and surfing tunes from the ‘40s through to the early ‘60s, next to the American Hot Rod and custom displays. Glamorous dancers dressed as GI’s reprised jive and swing numbers, as cameras flashed all around.

It would take pages to detail all the models on display – so check out the photos. Suffice to say just about every owner’s club was represented, from the exotic to the mundane. This shows continues to grow and it’s encouraging to see that the classic car and motorcycle world continues to thrive, even as the modern motor trade lags. Both car and motorcycle collectors have seen blue-chips increase substantially in value, which has had a ripple effect, as the less well-heeled among us restore what we can afford to buy – a rising tide that lifts all boats.

For most collectors, it’s about the pleasure of owning something that was craftsman-built and that an ordinary person can repair. There’s a lot of fun in owning a car or bike you can tinker with and enjoy with like-minded collectors, even if it was once just a family car and not regarded with any real affection. After all, it’s been said that the definition of a collector car is something you rode in the back of between the ages of five and 15.

The beauty of classic shows is that there is plenty to keep a petrol head entertained in all the halls, providing real value for money like many of the vehicles once did. Besides, you can say to your mates, “My old man had one of those.”
Ace Cafe Concours:

Café Race Class
1st place: Ralph Love and his 1958 Triton
2nd place: Steve Clark and his 1955 Tribsa
3rd place: Simon Morton and his 1958 Triton

Scooter Class
1st place: Chris Clayton and his 1965 Lambretta L15 200 Gold Special
2nd place: Joe Barnes and his 1963 Lambretta L1 125
3rd place: Maxine Melson and her 1964 Lambretta L1 150

Pride of Ownership Awards, sponsored by Real Classic Magazine and Meguiar’s:
Best Pre-1946 – Patrick Gill with the 1930 Matchless Silver Hawk
Best 1946-1959 – Geoff War with the TWN Coronet
Best 1960-1969 – Ken Whitehouse with the BSA A7 Shooting Star
Best 1970+ – Colin Kent with the 750 Norton Commando Production Racer
Best British – Doug Squires with the Vincent Tourer
Best European – Terrance Donovan and the DKW W200& Wessex Side-Car
Best Japanese – Richard Lyndoe with the Silver Suzuki GT750
Best Real Classic – Philip Curtis with the Triumph Tiger 100C ExportCars

Meguiar’s Club Showcase
David Moores’ 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso

Classic Car Weekly, Classic Cars and Practical Classics Classic Car of the Year
Amy Clements’ 1954 Jowett Jupiter SC

Classic & Sports Car Club Awards 2010:
Club Website of the Year: BMW Car Club of Great Britain
Most Improved Club Magazine: Morris Monthly (the Morris Register)
Club Magazine of the Year: Legend, The Land Rover Series One Club
Best Club Run/Rally: Cumbria Old Skool Ford Lakes Tour
Best Club Show/Event: World Cup Rally 40th organised by Triumph 2000/2500/2.5 Register, Landcrab Owners Club International, and Austin Maxi Owners Club
Club of the Year: TR Register
Club Personality of the Year: Keith Andrews, Membership Secretary of Jensen Owners Club
Most Interesting Selection of Cars: Lancia Motor Club
Best Themed Stand: Capri Club International, Mansfield and Notts branch
Best Small Club Stand: Vauxhall FD Register
Best Medium Sized Club Stand: Veteran Car Club of Great Britain
Best Large Club Stand: Maserati Club UK
Special Award for the car that stole the judges’ heart: Ken Robbins’ 1959 Turner 950s

Car of the Show:
Kees Smit’s 1937 Tatra T77A

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