I am exhausted. I had no idea that a classic car show could be so big. You can spend all three days there and still not see everything. This might seem like a bold claim but if you like classic cars there is absolutely nothing you can’t see, learn, or buy at The Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show at the NEC near Birmingham,UK. 

I thought I’d just amble about, drink coffee and shoot the breeze with other enthusiasts but when I arrived there were thousands of eager enthusiasts straining at the leash to be first into their motoring paradise, all waiting for the six enormous halls to open, each packed with everything classic car, every marque seemed to be represented, along with every car club.  

I don’t know how many football pitches or tennis courts you could fit into the NEC, but I would imagine it’s one of those structures you can see from space. It’s a little overwhelming. 

Car dealers, specialists, auctioneers, displays and demonstrations. Everything is here. 

You could spend an entire day just in the autojumble section that has everything from a light bulb to a petrol pump via a new tool set you didn’t know you needed. After this you can buy a model car and an old, enamelled advert and you can stick them in the boot of the new car you’ve bought and insured. 

The people are so friendly and happy to explain all about what they do, I learnt more about tyres in five minutes on the Blockley Tyres stand than I would have thought possible. Blockley was started by Historic racer Julian Majzub when he couldn’t get the right tyres for his racing cars. 

Iconic Auctions were selling an incredible selection of modern classics together with the usual Jaguars and Ferraris and what I think is probably one of the best selections of motorcycles I’ve yet seen encompassing everything from a 1920s Rudge to more modern Ducatis. Some of the estimates were a bit punchy but they reflect the market at the moment, I wonder where prices will go from here. 

You can see cars here that you will not see anywhere else, coach-built specials and cars you might have thought had disappeared for ever. It’s funny how with the passage of time cars that you might have disregarded when they were new have taken on classic status which allows us to appreciate their design.

If like me, you are a racing fan you are well catered for. Oselli had a beautiful MGB historic racing car that you could hire or buy, and The British Historic Kart Club had a fantastic display including Jenson Button’s and Lewis Hamilton’s old karts. 

Everyday there were talks and seminars given by experts about all things classic, how to buy restore and even be a dealer Ð and after you’ve listened to the experts you can attend restoration workshops to learn the finer points of body restoration.                                                                  

Get there early because there will be heavy traffic and you are going to need every single minute of every day.

Start organising your trip now, because nothing short of precise military planning will do and even then, you probably won’t have enough time. You don’t want to miss anything Ð but do remember to wear comfortable shoes.

The Classic Motor Show will return in November 2024, but you can get your fix of all things classic at the Practical Classics Classic Car Restoration Show 22-24 March at the NEC, Birmingham.

Story by: William Lansbury

First published in ‘Automotive Refinisher’ February, 2024  https://autoref.co.za/from-ac-to-zagato/