Thousands flock to classic car extravaganza in Birmingham

| 14 Nov 2016

Tens of thousands of visitors poured into Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre from 11-13 November to witness the largest indoor gathering of classic cars in the UK. The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show returned to the venue with a spectacular array of club and manufacturer displays. 

Jaguar Heritage’s imposing stand featured a number of cars from the firm’s illustrious history, with fully restored examples that were clean enough to eat off rubbing shoulders with those in as-found condition. From the fully restored camp was YVB 154H – one of seven pre-production ‘Velar’ models built between 1966 and 1970. The car was originally painted Olive Green, a slightly darker shade of the production colour Lincoln Green. It spent a number of years in the James Hull Collection, which was recently purchased by Jaguar Land Rover. 

The Velar was joined by an immaculate Series I in fire engine trim, resplendent with a water pump fixed to the front of the vehicle, enormous wing mirrors and a full lighting rig.

Classic & Sports Car’s stand continued the offroad theme with the most recent addition to the Our classics fleet, Martin Port’s newly acquired 1959 Series II. The historic car toured Africa extensively in period, with the names of the places visited painted along its hard top. It had spent a number of years exposed to the elements while parked outside its former keeper’s house in Shepherd’s Bush, but had been lovingly cleaned prior to going on display. 

The Railton Owners’ Club also opted for a patinated car as the star of its three-strong stand. The Little Cobham Saloon was a 10hp drophead which shared a family resemblance to the larger Railton Fairmile. Just four survivors are thought to exist, including Peter Adamson’s barnfind example, which is currently awaiting restoration. It was flanked by a 1938 Cobham Saloon and a 1937 ex-police Carbodies Tourer. 

Offering more horsepower was the online community, which displayed a trio of the fire-breathing, mid-engined Group B rally cars. Car number 217 was originally delivered to the United States and benefitted from the Clubman 300 reliability kit along with modified cylinder heads and Paris Dakar camshafts. The end result? 0-60mph in just four seconds. The car has never been road registered, but is a regular at motorsport events and car shows. 

The Classic Z Register gathered two incredibly rare Samuri versions of Datsun’s sleek sports car, one of which was offered for sale at £48,600. The original right-hand-drive car is one of a handful converted to Samuri specification, and was owned by Kevin Irons, a former partner of Spike Anderson at Samuri Conversions. The modifications included a gas-flowed cylinder head, uprated camshaft and triple Weber 40 DCOE carburettors. 

Vauxhall led the manufacturer’s charge with a stunning selection of 10 classics. A 1970 Viva GT DTV replica attracted a great deal of attention. Built from a rusty shell, the car was a faithful replica of the Dealer Team Vauxhall racer campaigned by Gerry Marshall in 1971. Vauxhall employee Colin Robbins created the glassfibre panels using original moulds, and regularly runs in sprints and hillclimbs. 

Another restoration project stole the show on the Vauxhall Cresta Club stand. The 1958 ‘Pink Lady’ PA Cresta was saved from the scrap yard by club members Wendy and Mark. An extensive three-year restoration brought it up to its current stunning condition. 

A striking six-car display drew plenty of attention to the Renault Classic Car Club. A British specification Renault 4CV 760 took pride of place at the head of the formation. “I purchased the car in Norfolk 95% complete. Although not a runner, I thought it would make a great two-year project. 15 years later and it’s finished!”.

The most attention was given to a 1959 Dauphine Gordini, which was first delivered to Binbrook, Lincolnshire. Tony Topliss, who bought the car in 1993, has toured with the Gordini extensively, including trips to the Isle of Man, Somerset and Norfolk. 

Club Peugeot also put on a great display, led by another Group B monster, this time the 205 T-16. The mid-engined racer sported build number 188 or 200 and was on show next to an immaculate Roland Garros edition 205. 

The Fiat Motor Club focussed on the firm’s diminutive models, with a rear-engined 126 and super rare four-wheel-drive Sisley Uno flanking a delightful Gamine Vignale. The pint-sized classic proved especially popular with younger showgoers, who no doubt saw the similarity with Noddy’s own choice of transport. 

As ever, the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain's large stand gathered an incredible selection of machines. A 1906 Fiat 24/40hp may have started life in Italy, but it came to be at the Classic Motor Show via a bog in Ulster, where it had slowly been rotting away for many years. The daunting restoration was completed by past owner Graham Rankin, with bodywork emulating that of the works cars which took part in the 1907 Targa Florio. 

Staking its claim as one of the rarest cars at the event was the 1914/18 Fafnir Hall-Scott Special. The German-built 1914 Fafnir was fitted with a 10-litre Hall-Scott aero engine, which originated in California. It’s incredible bodywork was styled after one of the Fafnir team cars of the early 1920s, which all had different ‘faces’ on their radiator shrouds.