The 17th November 2012 had been in my phone calendar for months. Dad and I were making the trip over from Belfast to Birmingham to see the UK’s biggest classic car show and probably the best classic motor show in the world. Three days and over 1500 retro and classic cars to see!
We arrived into Birmingham and promptly got lost trying to find the hotel we had booked. Cue a half hour’s walk through a dimly lit and foggy midlands industrial estate. But we got there in the end!
On the Saturday morning we got up early enough to be there for the doors opening. At breakfast it was clear that a large proportion of the guests were going to the show, numerous couples and groups wearing matching clothes, oh dear me. However, the best start to the day was meeting Richard Gunn of Classic Car Weekly and Danny Hopkins of Practical Classics in the breakfast room!
We struggled across to the NEC, there’s no footpath (cleverly), and were there for the opening. Starting in Hall 12 at the American classics, the range on show was unbelievable! From hot rods to rat rods, concourse to tidy there was everything imaginable. The hot rods really caught my eye as we don’t really get them here at home; a future project is the pipeline for sure!
I had been looking forward to the Vauxhall stand to see their concept and the old Prince Henry on show. Car of the show for me was the 1929 Hillman streamlined coupe. My appetite for Imps was well and truly whetted and I’m now on the lookout!
We moved through the show at a good pace so as to see as much as possible. The live stage was excellent with Mike Brewer and Ed China off Wheeler Dealers showing us their stuff. Thank goodness the CCR crew weren’t there otherwise I’m pretty sure there’d have been a riot! The Practical Classics team were rebuilding a Minor pick-up which was interesting as I’m currently doing a ’52 Moggy myself. We dropped in on their magazine stand and also at Classics Monthly were we received a warm welcome.
The Bike Show was next but we didn’t really stop here as there were plenty more cars that needed to be seen! We had lunch in the restaurant and then headed for the Morris Minor Owners Club stand then for the Austin 7s. There was plenty of Leyland metal (oxide) to keep the home crowds entertained with 1100s, 1300s, VDPs, Maestros, Montegos and everything else we’d all rather forget (I jest).
We had to be back on the plane for home so left the show around half four. We were really flagging at this point but it was great to walk back through the show on the way to the plane.
I really enjoyed the whole experience and will definitely be bringing a car and trailer next year!
Words: James Wylie