Event: NEC Classic Motorshow.
Location: National Exhibition Centre, Halls, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1NT.
Date: Friday 10th - 12th November 2017.
Crusty old classics.
Every year since the beginning of time, the NEC has played host to the Classic Motorshow, a huge annual event dedicated just to classic cars and bikes. This is a celebration of yesteryear, a real trip down memory lane.
Bathing in a sea of anoraks and owners clubs, we’re back in Birmingham for our third year running, we love attending this prestigious event. It’s our annual baptism of fire from grumpy Ford Mondeo owners with bald patches and a chip on their shoulder, it's great.
Sprawled over five halls, the NEC yet again served up a brilliant mix of classics from all across the car enthusiast community. This indoor event has become a welcome season finale, avoiding the cold, wet and windy UK weather and providing the perfect showcase for the UK’s best classic cars before they go into hibernation over winter.
There goes the neighbourhood.
On the RollHard stand, we had Pipey Mcgraw’s 20B triple rotary “3-Type” E-Type Jaguar, Max Fleckney’s 1979 Toyota Starlet and Eden Cayless’ 1971 Volkswagen Bus and 1965 Beetle.
In true RollHard fashion, our modified line-up caused no end of controversy and confusion among visiting aficionados. Modifying classic cars is just not in the DNA of most of those attending this event, and we just love a heated discussion about the pros and cons of modifying bonafide classic cars at the "expense" of a concourse restoration.
In particular, Pipey’s “3-Type” was the cause of grave concern for some of the dyed-in-the-wool attendees at the show, who couldn’t work out why on earth anyone would “butcher” an E-Type in such a way. We enjoy the debate this car whips up and welcome all opinions good or bad.
The real truth is that Pipey’s Series 2 2+2 Jaguar has been saved from the crusher and put back on the road using a combination of reclaimed original parts from dead E-Types across the globe. Mated up to a Mazda Cosmo 20B triple rotor engine sans turbo chargers, this incredible NA motor is an absolute screamer putting out an estimated 300bhp. This car isn't for the faint of heart and definitely not one for Practical Classics magazine - which is exactly why we love it...
Hearing the story behind Max Fleckney’s Starlet made us realise what of a peach this car this really is. Hidden away in his mate’s garage, this rare 1300cc “barn find” was a gift from the heavens being such an uncommon car in the UK, it allowed Max to put his own stamp on a things by reworking the engine, tidying up the engine bay, changing the suspension and fitting a set of Advan A3A splits. It was a real pleasure to have Max on our stand at the NEC.
Another firm favourite of ours is Robert Cumberbatch's Hillman Imp. It's definitely the best modified Imp in the world. My favourite thing about his car is how damn sympathetic the modifications are. He's added air ride, three piece Ronal split rims and re-trimmed his interior, along with plenty of additional performance upgrades. Whilst most of his car is not stock at all, it absolutely retains all of the retro cues you would expect on a car produced in the late 60s/early 70s. Robert's Imp is the perfect cross-over between classic and modern and it was great to see it at the show.
Live and kicking.
As per last year, the live stage provided entertainment all weekend with on-stage demonstrations including star guest Q&As. Oh how we enjoyed Mike Brewer, Ant Anstead (Discovery’s Wheeler Dealers), Fuzz Townsend (National Geographic Channel’s Car SOS) and Jonny Smith (Channel 5’s Fifth Gear) take to the stage and give show visitors an insight into their recent project cars, upcoming TV shows and events. We even got invited to an exclusive viewing of Wheeler Dealers new season first episode, featuring the iconic Ford Escort Cosworth finally created with Frank Stephenson’s third wing design and got the chance to meet the man himself, it was a great privilege for us. Watch below for the episode trailer and look out for that third whale-tail...!
Bikes, bikes, bikes.
We were impressed with the sheer numbers of classics bikes in all shapes and sizes on show this year, from an amazing 1914 Rudge Multi to a custom Norton cafe racer, it was all here. From an engineering point of view, it's really hard not to admire the workmanship and ingenuity behind the Norton build. It's a killer combination of old and new, with lashings of personality. As far as the old bikes go, these old timers require balls of steel, sketchy at speed is an understatement!
The classic car scene is a strange thing. Whilst it’s easy to imagine an NEC exhibition hall packed to the rafters with grey haired old men standing around talking syncromesh and radial tyres, thankfully, there is some young blood among the ranks with a more open minded approach.
In the three years we’ve been attending this event, the visitor demographic has been changing steadily, of course, this show still very much appeals to the golden oldie brigade, but there is a new wave of classic car enthusiasts coming through the ranks and we definitely spied a few modified classics dotted around the show. For example, it was great to see David Milligan's stunning Mk1 VW Scirocco on BBS E50s nestled on the Scirocco owners club stand. RollHard approves.
Going, going, gone.
The live auctions at the show are always a highlight, seeing how deep classic car collectors' pockets will go for the right car. On this showing, the demand for low mileage, factory fresh RS Fords remains as high as ever, with collectors competing at auction for rare 80s and 90s Fords that will probably never actually see the road.
However, one car which really did capture the hearts of visitors at the NEC was this little 1968 Reliant Regal three-wheeler van. More importantly, this was the actual van used in the filming of the famous British TV series, Only Fools and Horses, an absolutely cult TV programme all over the world. Whilst auctioneers had this estimated at £20,000, the bidding public had other ideas. In a room full of excitable punters, the winning bid was a whopping £41,625 with fees. Mange tout Rodney!
See you in 365.
So that’s it for another year at the NEC Classic Motorshow. We think, slowly but surely, that classic car fraternity is warming up to the idea of messing about with classic cars, whilst we might not have full support of the old guard, RollHard is definitely starting to thaw them out…
Until next year Birmingham…!
Video courtesy of https://www.velocity.com/