NEC displays dish up a bargain

| 18 Nov 2011

I went to this year’s Classic Motor Show at the NEC, a grim venue at a grim time of year but an event I quite enjoy. I know it’s not Rétromobile or Essen...but I find it more enjoyable every time I go.The trick is to do it on your own with no distractions; that way you can linger or wander at will. And increasingly it’s the ‘ordinary’ cars I linger over.

Stuff you just stare at such as a Ford Classic or Capri and think ‘when did I actually last really look at one of those?’ or just stuff you might not have seen before such as the Opel Commodore GS-E coupé and the 1950s Jensen Interceptor drophead coupé.

I loved the sectioned/cut-away Silver Shadow II on the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club’s stand and, for the first time ever, thought that Hurst Park Automobiles had under-valued a car: the Jaguar XJ-S HE (below) on its stand was totally mint and just seemed for nothing at £7000 – it must have sold?

Even the awful lighting in the NEC halls couldn’t disguise some of the shameful paint-jobs one some of the cars on display but it didn’t really matter.Book and brochure specialist Andrew Currie kept me in toilet reading with three Autocar/Motor road test manuals and I found some chrome fillets for the window rubbers on the Lagonda that were just right.

As usual, I’d flick through the brochures out of habit but end up being unable to justify buying them on a whim after convincing myself that I probably have most of the ones that I want.

Yesterday I went up to the Bonhams sale at Harrogate on a mission to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser (below) for Toyota GB’s historic fleet, the idea being that I would do a story on it.

It was interesting because it was originally supplied to Rover for evaluation in 1963 and is probably the oldest in the UK, unused since 1970. It was also mint and, to my surprise, went way over the budget Scott Brownlee at Toyota had given me to buy it.The star of the sale was a fairly horrible Bentley special but I was much more taken with the Allard P1 barn-find (below) that a mate of mine was keen on – and which could probably have been put back on the road for a small outlay – so I hung around until it went through... but again it bust the £7000 budget my friend had allowed for bidding on it.

It was a sale otherwise dominated by Jaguars of nearly all types including lots of clean SIII XJ’s with pub landlord ‘leapers’ on their bonnets.On the way back I stopped off in Uttoxeter to look at an automatic Lamborghini Espada (Jimmy Savile had one). More, hopefully, on this soon....