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Archive 40
Historic Motorsport Show 2004

The inaugural three-day show was held in the exhibition halls and grounds of the Royal Showground at Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry, during February 2004. Charles White went along to find out what it was all about

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 very high.

   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.

   Sir Stirling 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 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

   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.

Other 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

   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

   If you wanted a break from the show exhibits, a short walk outside took you to where a 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.

   Show visitors 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 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   

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