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International Classic Motor Show 2003, NEC UK - Review

Over last weekend, 8/9 November, an estimated 40,000+ visitors came to the annual International Classic Motor Show held at Birmingham’s NEC complex. An event traditionally linked with the grass roots of the classic car movement, the show featured a strong presence from car clubs and dealers, as well as a large dedicated automobilia area and stands selling tools, spares and books. In short, all the classic car enthusiast needed – under one roof.

Marques featured under the owners club banner included, Alfa Romeo, AC, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Ferrari, Jaguar (JDC and JEC), Jensen, Lancia, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Morgan and Porsche. In addition to these prestigious makes, humbler cars lower down the food chain such as Hillman’s Imp, and Austin’s quirky 1950s Nash Metropolitan also had stand space. A significant area was dedicated to Americana, one of the best cars present overall being an immaculately turned out 1960s Shelby Ford GT350 Mustang, already a multiple concours winner on the US scene. The Bugatti Owners Club had several examples of pre-war cars on display and used the show to promote their activities at Prescott, the famous Cotswold hill-climb course that is their base. Many people will know of, and may even have competed at, Prescott but the BOC also run a very successful hill-climb course there [I know, I have done it, and very useful it is too – Ed] and are eager to promote Prescott for corporate hospitality.

Not to be outdone, the geographically close Midland Automobile Club based at Shelsley Walsh had a very big stand with several competition cars on it. The historic hill-climb at Shelsley is under threat and the MAC is in the process of securing the future of the course via an appeal, the aims of which are very well summarised on their website. The purpose of the big NEC stand was to really get the message across to enthusiasts that time is now running out, if the lease cannot be renewed nearly 100 years of motorsport will end in April 2004.

Attracting a lot of interest was the South African built Superformance Coupé. As featured on Classic Driver recently , the car debuted at Birmingham engineless but few people would deny it looked as good or better in the metal than it did in the early photos. UK importer, and well-known Historic racer, Nigel Hulme as well as UK distributor Rod Leach were on hand to explain how it all worked and what sort of performance the 500+ bhp car was capable of. Your author was able to sample the coupé from the hot seat and was mightily impressed with the standard of finish and detailing which runs to air conditioning and even cup-holders in the glove compartment door. I’d watch out for the lattés flying when someone guns the motor though.

In addition to the Superformance team, other dealers present included Classic Motor Cars with a nice selection of mostly older Jaguars and Autobahn, Porsche specialists. John Williams Classics had a very nice 1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce 750E on their stand, although the main thrust for them that weekend was promoting the popular courses on “How To Buy A Classic Car”, “A Day At The Auction” and “How To Become A Successful Professional Classic Car Dealer”. The latter definitely not required for Martin Brewer of Runnymede who had brought along a large selection cars including, of course, some of his speciality marque; Aston Martin. Next to Martin’s stand was a dapper-looking Alan Carrington having made the journey up from Sevenoaks to show several cars from his stock such as the beach-buggy he is pictured with below that was sold at the show.

As they say, lots of fun for all the family and well worth a visit next year.

Rod Leach (l) and Nigel Hulme with the Superformance Coupé

Alan Carrington

The AMOC stand - professional as ever

ERA supporting the MAC Shelsley appeal

Maserati 250F does likewise

Bugatti Owners Club - what else!

Martin Brewer discussing the finer points of a car's provenance

Pre and Post-war Jaguars on the JDC stand

Report/Photos: Classic Driver