The NEC Classic Motor Show
Every November, the NEC in Birmingham becomes the major draw for fans of classic cars in the UK. Naturally, the 3-day show also attracts visitors from further afield to immerse themselves in 5 halls of motoring history that also includes motorcycles, vans and, particularly for 2018, a few military vehicles paying homage to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1.
As always at these events, the cars are the stars. And what a collection there is to mull over. From the ‘humblest’ everyday transport of the 1950s and 60s, through the vintage and veteran sports and luxury cars of a bygone era, to some of today’s most desirable motors. Yes, despite the show’s name, many of the stands also include some of the latest models, if only to show the lineage from yesteryear. There are rows and rows of stands offering everything to clean, restore, fettle and to wear your preferred marque. There’s also plenty of choice to keep fed and watered whilst wandering about and commenting ‘I had one of those’ and ‘I wish I still had it now!’ How many times can one overhear those sentiments whilst drooling over a Cortina, a Jaguar or a Lotus?
Every car club you can think of has a stand. Nearly every offshoot of every car club (there’s lots of history there too!) has a stand alongside. We were delighted to meet many of the volunteers and helpers who keep such clubs going and ensuring that our prized metal stays on the road and is seen from time to time amongst all the lookalike ‘Euroboxes’ that fill today’s roads.
The show is also a major fund-raiser for Sporting Bears. This is an amazing organisation that raises funds for children’s charities by offering ‘Dream Rides’ in a choice of classic and sports cars… all provided for free by the car’s owner. They have raised over £2m since being formed in 1989.
The show is sponsored by Lancaster Insurance and includes a ‘restoration theatre’, the ‘Discovery Live’ stage for celebrity interviews and Q&A sessions, and an impressive auction run by Silverstone Auctions.
Naturally, we love to wander around looking at the exhibits and also meeting up with many friends, including this year Justin Baird-Murray, MD of the Metropole Hotel who had a stand at the show. We also chatted with Andy Webber on the JEC stand and bumped into Ian Glass of Country Lane Tours, Wayne Scott of Classic & Heritage PR, Nigel Woodward of CMC and James Walsh of Practical Classics Magazine. Inevitably, if you don’t say hello as soon as you see them, they’re soon lost in the crowd and you can’t find them again… there’s a Petrolheads Welcome top tip (or common sense) for making the most of such events!
No doubt the organisers will be planning for the 2019 Show to be bigger and better. Although the poignancy of the well-observed 2 minutes silence at 11:00 on Armistice Day, 100 years after the event will, as it should, remain in the memory of all who were there.