This show has come about
because during the past 25 years or so a whole new industry
has sprung up around competition use of historic and classic
vehicles. There are now over 60 organisations dedicated
to historic racing, rallying, hillclimb and sporting trials
et al, and the nostalgia level for things historic remains
The UK is at
the heart of all forms of motorsport. It has been estimated
that between a half and two thirds of all historic motorsport
activity in Europe occurs in Britain with some 3500 businesses
here serving the movement. Furthermore, this country embraces
something like three quarters of a million classic road
and/or racing vehicles.
Moss officially opened the show and later he was spotted
at the Vanwall stand on which a magnificent 1957 Vanwall
2.5L Grand Prix car was proudly displayed; it is valued
at over £1m and definitely not for sale! But if you thought
that Vanwall belonged to a bygone era then think again as
the Vanwall name is very much alive with a newly formed
company being granted exclusive rights to manufacture road-going
sports cars and single seat racers. See www.vanwallcars.com
for more information.
Rod Jolley, the
celebrated historic racer and coach-builder from Lymington
in Hampshire, displayed a rare and superbly restored Monzanapolis
Lister Jaguar on his stand, the same car which was driven
by Jack Fairman in the 1958 'Race of Two Worlds' when Indianapolis
met F1 on the banked Monza circuit. During 2003 Rod raced
the car three times in historic GP events and the car will
be aired again this year. A full account of the Monzanapolis
event can be found at www.silhouet.com/motorsport/archive/f1.
Just about every
shape, size and type of historic cars were on display. There
were Astons, Bugattis, Lolas, Fords, Cooper 500s (and their
bigger F1 brothers), Minis, Bentleys, Alfas, Ferraris, MGs,
Porsches, Mercedes, BMWs, Lotuses, Jaguars, Mallocks and
Saabs. You could buy a fully restored car in ready-to-race
condition, or perhaps a well-used hack. Even a complete
chassis, as well as many assorted components to numerous
to mention, were up for sale.
How about a well-used
Lotus-Cortina for £13,500, or a part complete 'E-type' for
£15,950? Maybe a very nice Formula Junior Elva for £29,500,
a Classic Formula Ford for £15,750 or, if feeling particularly
flush, Jo Bonnier's 1969 Lola T70 for £200,000! Fancy something
for the kids (or the grandchildren), a two-seat electric
powered 1930s style MG model car was offered for £1,950.
On one stand I even
saw a re-creation of the back end of a 1934 GP Auto Union
which included the 4.3L V16 engine, gearbox and rear suspension.
cars that caught my eye included a yellow Ford GT40
(with a second model even resplendent in its original
Gulf livery) the six-wheel F1 Tyrell and 'Number 3'
- a 1930 Bentley Le-Mans Speed 6.
There were three large
halls and over 350 exhibitors so it was difficult to see
everything in one day. There were stands for skills and
others for engineering, clubs, etc., and an autojumble for
those after that hard to find part, or the odd bargain.
A number of theme stands for interests such as speed trials,
rallying, etc., were dotted about and those displays attracted
much attention. Although the show was mainly about competition
vehicles, many road-going classic cars and racing motorcycles
could be spied about the halls.
And, of course,
there were stands selling books, memorabilia and other bric-a-brac.
Fancy a race poster from a 1950s Brands Hatch meeting or
a programme from Silverstone? Many of the publications offered
for sale are long out-of-print; books on Fangio, Moss or
Hill, manufacturers such as Ferrari, or Formula One Yearbooks,
could be picked up for a song (some for a bit more, actually).
I saw a painting of Tazio Nuvolari posing beside a 1934
Bugatti 59 at Monaco; the painting was priced at £30 and
I wa sorely tempted ...
You don't even have
to buy your own car to become a historic race driver nowadays
as your dream could be fulfilled for as little as £295 for
a test drive in a Replica 'D' type Jaguar. A drive, or a
full seasons racing, are also on offer although that will
cost a little bit more both in terms of price and experience.
For more details see www.revivalmotorsport.com
The number of
companies offering 'drives for cash' in both classic and
modern motorsport is a growth area, and an increasing number
of dedicated races for these events are being held. You
pay at the start of the season, and then all you have to
do is turn up and drive the car - all preparation being
done by the promoter.
Many of the race
organisations, schools and racing circuits were represented
at the show. Shelsley Walsh (the oldest racing track in
the world) are attempting to raise money to purchase a 99-year
lease of the famous hill and have come up with the novel
idea of selling each square yard of the hill for £125! In
reality you don't physically buy the tarmac, but rather
own the custody of it for which your name is inscribed upon
a roll of benefactors to be displayed at the track. More
details from www.shelsleytrust.co.uk
If you wanted
a break from the show exhibits, a short walk outside took
you to where a ¾ mile rally stage was laid out. Here you
could watch Pentii Airikkala, Russell Brookes, Rosemary
Smith and others in the legendary Ford Escort, Mini or Audi
Quattro, sliding through the concrete and gravel stages.
could probably be divided into those actually involved in
the racing scene and enthusiasts just interested in historic
cars. More than 16,000 people visited the show over the
three days and it looks like becoming an annual event -
a date of 25 to 27th February, 2005, has already been set
for next year. Keep an eye on the website at www.historic-motorsport.co.uk
for the latest news.
If you can't wait
for next year's event then it might be worth a visit to
'The Classic Motor Show' which opens at the NEC from 22
to 24th, October, 2004. There is always a fair amount of
overlap for this type of event so expect to see a good mixture
of competition and road cars on the stands in the autumn.
Details at www.necclassicmotorshow.com
to Current Features