The classic car season is in full swing, but there can sometimes be too many shows and too little time. To help separate the wheat from the chaff we've rounded up five of the very best UK-based classic car events that you simply cannot miss, including the majesty of an early morning start at the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran car run to the flame-spitting tin tops of the Goodwood Revival's St Mary's Trophy. Get the dates in your diary and your tickets on order.
5. Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 5 November
Few sights embody the spirit of the classic car community in quite the same way as the diehard enthusiasts of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run preparing their cars on a misty morning in November. These hardy souls set off from Hyde Park in London atop pioneers from the earliest days of motoring, often to a backdrop of howling winds and driving winter rain.
This year’s event pays homage to French veterans. Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz may have developed the world’s first horseless carriage, but it was the French who more than anyone embraced the early days of motoring. There are plenty of places to get a fantastic view along the 60-mile route to Brighton – keep an eye out for the sole surviving Créanche, a single cylinder machine built in 1900, and an 1896 Raynaud-vis-á-vis, which may also be the last of its type.
If you’re lucky, you may also see a 1900 Renault Type C, which the firm’s engineers are working feverishly to have completed for the tour. Its brake components and rear axle have been prepared not by a mechanic, but rather a blacksmith!
Don’t miss: The start. While there’s always a great atmosphere on Madeira Drive, it’s difficult to beat the excitement of the early morning start in Hyde Park. You’ll have to get up early to be there for 6am, but you get the best chance to have a good look at the cars and a chat with drivers.
4. Classic Nostalgia 22-23 July
The Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb is gearing up for a fantastic celebration of Group A rallying, the World Rally Championship and the Campbell record breaking dynasty. So far, 30 cars from the era of Sierra Cosworths and Lancia Delta Integrales have been confirmed to attend, along with a further 10 from the age of the world rally car, including iconic 555-liveried Subaru Imprezas and their fierce Mitsubishi Evo rivals.
The 50th anniversary of Donald Campbell’s death will be marked by his daughter Gina and nephew Don Wales, who will unveil a special car dedicated to Bluebird. To top it off, the awe inspiring W12 aero-engined Napier Bluebird replica will complete a series of deafening demonstration runs up the hill, while a collection of 10 road cars once owned by the Campbells – including the E-type that was used in the film Across The Lake – will be on display.
3. Lancaster Insurance NEC Classic Motor Show 10-12 November
For many clubs, model registers, and classic car editorial team, the Classic Motor Show is one of the highlights of the classic car calendar. Not only is it the largest indoor gathering of classics in Britain – more than 2500 cars and motorbikes will be on display covering a whopping 12 football pitches – it’s also a fantastic opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
This year’s theme will be ‘Family Ties’, and you can look forward to a fantastic and varied interpretation of the theme from car clubs, which all vie to create the most exciting and eye-catching displays.
Classic & Sports Car will be there with a dedicated stand (last year we showcased Martin Port’s fantastic Trans-Africa Land Rover), but we’ll also be looking forward to seeing show regulars such as the Veteran Car Club and the Sporting Bears. Of course, we’ll also be hosting our annual Classic & Sports Car Club Awards – keep your ear to the ground for further announcements and details on how to enter your own club for an award.
Don’t miss: The autojumble hall. Easily overlooked due to the sheer number of cars on display, the autojumble hall is a great place to find rare parts and cheap tools. Leave it until the end of the day otherwise you may never see the other halls!
2. Silverstone Classic 28-30 July
For family fun it’s difficult to look beyond the Silverstone Classic, and this year’s event from 28-30 July is set to be one to remember. More than 120 car clubs and 10,000 privately owners classics are expected to make the trip to the home of British motor racing, among them the Lotus Seven Club, which will mark 60 years of the Seven with a mammoth on-track parade of more than 100 cars.
Organisers are also setting their sights on a new world record: rounding up as many of the 271 Jaguar XJ220s as they can, including a factory Le Mans car, Martini-liveried example and the MIRA crash test car.
The event will also host the European debut of one of the meanest Touring Cars from the Southern Hemisphere: Jim Richards’ John Player Special-liveried BMW 635CSi. Seven times Bathurst 1000 winner ’Gentleman’ Jim will be reunited with his famous Group C car, which will be in action on Saturday and Sunday afternoons against a combined grid of Group 1, Group A and Group C racers.
1. Goodwood Revival 8-10 September
Comfortably the most anticipated event of the 2017 calendar is the Goodwood Revival, an enthralling weekend of vintage racing and glamour that hasn’t lost its appeal, despite in recent years becoming as popular with fashionistas as it is with classic car fans. If you’ve been before you certainly won’t need any convincing, but if you haven’t, now is the time to correct the oversight.
Some of the most astounding historic racing cars in the world gather for the Revival, and even the wealthiest and most renowned collectors covet an invitation. Each year, Lord March surpasses himself with the quality of his grids, with highlights from previous years including all six Shelby Daytona Coupes and the largest ever gathering of Bugatti racers.
It isn’t just the cars that make the Revival so special, but the people who drive them. A stellar lineup of historic racers and former Grand Prix and Le Mans winners regularly turn out, including luminaries like Allan McNish, Emanuele Pirro and Jackie Oliver, but in recent years, thanks to favourable schedules, a host of current Touring Car aces have also packed out the grids. The result? The sort of exhilarating door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper racing that you won’t see anywhere else in historics.
Don’t miss: The evening race. Each year, the opening day of the Revival hosts a headline race into the twilight. It’s one of the most evocative sights in motorsport and is always marked by incredible machines and even more incredible driving. Click here to read last year’s event report or for tickets, click here