What to see and do at the 2021 Classic Motor Show

by James Foxall
10 November 2021 7 min read
What to see and do at the 2021 Classic Motor Show
Photos: Classic Motor Show

The world’s largest gathering of classic cars opens at Birmingham’s NEC on Friday 12 November 2021. The Classic Motor Show runs until Sunday 14 November with a whole host of events planned to capture the attention and imagination of car enthusiasts and fill social media feeds with all sort of goodness. And that’s without taking into account the dozens of coveted and classic vehicles from all eras for visitors to ogle at.

This year is the 37th running of the event and the first since 2019. Like many others, we’re delighted it’s back and look forward to seeing the friendly faces around the stands, attractions and live, on-stage events. Here are the highlights to help visitors plan their perfect day out at the 2021 Classic Motor Show.

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How big is the NEC Classic Motor Show?

Quite simply, it’s claimed to be the biggest gathering of classic cars and motorcycles on the planet. It takes up seven halls of the giant NEC exhibition venue. And it needs to. There will be 3,000-plus classic vehicles on show, more than 270 car clubs and there are expected to be in excess of 70,000 visitors.

What’s so good about it?

What to see and do at the 2021 Classic Motor Show
Bidders compete during the Silverstone Auctions sale

Along with its sheer size comes a breadth of attraction that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the classic car world. It’s a must-attend event for the world’s best-known classic vehicle dealers, service providers and traders, which means visitors will be able to make a proper day out of it. Just allow plenty of time to see everything.

That means there isn’t just a huge variety of cars and bikes to drool over, there are also many vehicles for sale. These will appeal to all tastes and budgets, with prices from less than £10,000 to more than £100,000. But whatever the value, they’re all dream machines to those with their eye on them…

The show is also the end of the classic car ‘season’. Many treat it as a celebration and the organisers say this year’s show is a way of coming back from the pandemic. Lee Masters, Show director, explained: “We wanted the 2021 show to reflect where we all are right now – and that’s continuing our journey.

“Our lives and hobbies were somewhat put on hold due to COVID but now we can get back on the road, in every sense.”

Where is it and how do I get there?

The National Exhibition Centre is on the eastern side of Birmingham. And the great thing about it is you can get there by pretty much any form of transport apart from boat. Planes, trains and automobiles are a given. You can also get a coach, bus or even cycle if you want.

Located conveniently close to where the M6 and M42 motorways converge, it’s a cinch by car. The postcode for the NEC venue if B40 1NT, so punch that into your sat nav. There are free shuttle buses from the car parks to the exhibition halls to save a bit of shoe leather.

The NEC is located a five-minute walk away from Birmingham International Railway Station and many trains go there direct. If one from you doesn’t, Birmingham New Street station is a 15-minute rail journey away. A free 90-second shuttle connects the International Railway Station to Birmingham Airport so flying in is easy too if you’re coming from further afield.

How do I book tickets and how much will it cost?

BSA motorcycles at the NEC Classic Motor Show
Bikes, commercial vehicles and even tanks can be found at the NEC Classic Motor Show

You can book tickets on the event’s website. On Friday, adult tickets cost £36 (reduced to £30.60 for groups of 10); children aged five to 15 cost £20.50. On Saturday and Sunday, adults pay £29.50; children aged five to 15 cost £19.50. Children under five get in for free.

There are family tickets available for £76 (£83 on Friday) for two adults and up to three five to 15-year olds. A two-day adult pass for Friday and Saturday costs £58 (£52 for Saturday and Sunday). A three-day adult pass is £78. And remember that many car clubs offer ticket discounts.

Parking costs £12 per car per day on top, if you book in advance. Pay on the day and it’s £16. Motorcycle parking is free.

Do I need anything special to get in?

Apart from a ticket, the organisers need proof of COVID status before anyone can enter.

For English residents, this is proof of double vaccination via the NHS app or website with the second vaccine at least 14 days before the event.

Alternatively, you can provide proof of a negative NHS Lateral Flow Test. You take the test at home and register the result with the NHS. You can then show the NHS email/test on the door. You could display proof of natural immunity based on a positive PCR test within 180 days of the show. If you’re medically exempt from showing proof you can display that too.

Note that under 18s don’t need to show a COVID pass. The event also describes itself as ‘mask friendly’ so if you feel more comfortable wearing a face covering, go ahead. It has even increased the width of aisles between stands to help people distance from one another.

What’s happening when?

Mike Brewer will be at 2021 Classic Motor Show
Mike Brewer promises to be a crowd-pleaser

There’s an awful lot going on. The following are some of the highlights we’re looking forward to.

Doors open at 10am on Friday with an opening ceremony with TV presenter Mike Brewer at 11am. On Saturday and Sunday, doors open at 9am. The show closes at 6pm on Friday, 6.30pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday.

At 1pm on Friday, teams from Practical Classics magazine and the Morris Marina Owners’ Club (MMOC) and Ital Register will start trying to revive a 1971 1.3 Marina Coupe that hasn’t run for 30 years.

Chairman of the MMOC Chris Weedon told us: “I think it’s feasible. The engine and interior have already been removed. It took four hours to take it apart and you can usually bank on three times that for reassembly so it should be possible over the three days.”

Head to the stage in Hall 5 to see the start of the Practical Challenge. It’ll be compelling viewing, not least because the car is the second oldest of its kind known to the Marina club. The Marina celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and the aim is to hail that by driving the car off at the end of the show on Sunday.

Hankering after an old oil can? Or perhaps you’d like to treat your garage walls to a new sign? Head to Hall 2 on Saturday at 11am for the Silverstone Auctions Automobilia Auction. At 2pm in the Restoration Hall 4, watch a live demonstration on paint polishing with the experts from Gilbert Michaelson Automotive Restorations. It’s only 30 minutes and who knows what you’ll learn?

On Sunday at 2.30pm, the editors of Practical Classics and Classic Car Weekly discuss the future of classic cars. It’s live on the stage in Hall 5 and promises to be a stimulating and thought-provoking conversation. You don’t have to move anywhere for 3.30pm because that’s when the Practical Challenge concludes – hopefully with a pristine and working Morris Marina.

That’s our pick of the events but there’s plenty more going on. Read on to see some more highlights.

Which celebrities will be there?

Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland of Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars
Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland of Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars promise not to bicker too much…

Classic car royalty will be in evidence throughout the three days of the show. TV presenter Mike Brewer is opening the show. He is also presenting various interviews and question and answer sessions on the main stage in Hall 5.

Among those joining him are fellow TV presenter Ant Antstead, with Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland from Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars also getting the crowd revved up. Jimmy Doherty, famous for Jimmy’s Farm, will also be talking about his Dream Builds on Wheels TV show and the motorhome he created around a 1950s Green Goddess fire engine.

More highlights from the 2021 NEC Classic Motor Show

There are so many it’s difficult to pick out just a handful. We’ve split them into broad categories.

New cars

Vantare from British Automotive Engineering

One car definitely worth having a look at is the Vantare, a modern take on classic Aston Martins of old. Using a DB9 plus its V12 engine as the base, British Automotive Engineering has come up with a homage to the DB5 and DBS. Only 10 will be made and each will cost from £275,000. The car is making its debut at the Classic Motor Show.

Its creator, TV presenter Bradley Walsh from The Chase, says: “The Vantare is the ultimate expression of Britishness and individuality, a modern appreciation of the exquisite 1960’s automotive-style evolved for the discerning sports and continental driver.”

Car clubs

From AC to the XR4 Ford, there will be literally hundreds of owners’ clubs present. Of those, one that will doubtless attract interest is the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club. It has been raffling a 2014 XK Signature Special Edition with a 5-litre V8 engine and 35,000 miles under its wheels since before the pandemic struck.

Tickets cost just £2 and are on sale until 3pm on Sunday when the draw is held in Hall 2. “Last time we did this, the winner walked off with a 2019 F-Type for an outlay of just £2. But you can buy as many tickets as you want,” the club’s Wayne Scott said.

The Porsche 924 Owners’ Club (Hall 1) is celebrating 40 years since the launch of the 924 Carrera GT. And the Opel Manta is celebrating 50 years, among the significant anniversaries.

Pride of Ownership

If you want to applaud owners who’re keeping old cars going, head to Hall 3 for the Pride of Ownership celebration. There’s a selection of cars submitted by everyday owners. Visitors to the show – that’s you! – then vote on which is the best. With cars ranging from a 1962 Bentley S2 Continental to a 1990 Toyota Celica it promises to be a fascinating watch when the winner is revealed at 2.45pm on Sunday.


Mike Brewer Citroen SM
Mike Brewer’s Citroen SM is to be auctioned at the 2021 Classic Motor Show

If you’ve got some money burning a hole in your pocket, go to Hall 2 for the Silverstone Auctions sale. There’s a motorbike sale on Friday, the car sale is on the Saturday and Sunday. There’s a huge range of motors from the 1970s, 80s and 90s and even the odd classic from the 2000s. Many are offered without reserve too.

Models that caught our eye include a 1984 Renault 5 Turbo 2, given to ex-F1 star Derek Warwick by the Renault F1 team (guide price £65,000-£75,000), a 1972 Citroën SM owned by TV presenter Mike Brewer (guide price £35,000-£45,000) and a 1983 Maserati Merak SS (guide price £48,00-£54,000).

Drive a classic

Modern motor shows are about so much more than simply looking at cars. HERO-ERA’s Arrive and Drive scheme enables visitors to take a four-mile drive in a classic. Prices start from £47 for drivers, £32 for passengers. Motors include a Lancia Delta Integrale and Fiat 124 Sport Spider.

‘Our Friends Electric’ is a series of discussions chaired by Mike Brewer on the live stage around battery powered cars. It covers original electric motors to converted classics and ‘restomods’ (restored and modified classics). Twice a day this is accompanied by a live demonstration around a track in Hall 5.

Cars in action include a 1912 Baker Electric and Porsche 356 inspired Chesil E. The Classic Motor Show really does prove that classics remain as relevant to modern motoring as they’ve always been.

Read more

21 of the best car and motorcycle museums to visit
Market watch: How classic car auctions have performed in the first six months of 2021

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  • David R says:

    Also, visit the Sporting Bears in Hall 5 and take a 10 mile ride in one of the 60+ Classics & sports cars they have there. All your money will go to a vetted UK charity – ask at the booking desk which charities are being supported. All being well we’ll be there for the classic and resto show in March too.

  • David R says:

    PS as we are a not-for-profit maybe Hagerty could give us a plug in next year’s article ? 😉

  • Dom says:

    Thanks for the mention, incorrect image unfortunately😉… to see what the BAEVantare really looks like please visit

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Hello Dom, thanks for the correction and apologies for the error – that’s now been corrected.

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