Car shows? You either love them or you hate them. There are those people out there who simply cannot get enough from seeing the same cars again and again. They almost wish that time was frozen and that a classic car show could be their sanctuary. In stark contrast, there are others who detest them. They detest the people who go to them, seeing what seems like a stagnation on an annual basis, and also feeling robbed after spending a good chunk of cash on not only on entry, but also sundries, like car parking, and of course, inevitably, food, drink and whatever catches the eye!
The Footman James Classic Car show I am glad to say is always a little different! Sure, it’s full of new tech, some old tech, and some recycled but it’s always interesting to see what is out there. This time, there was certainly something there for everyone, and to the chagrin of the old guard, some new blood in the mix.
This would be different for me for another reason. Camera. Over the years I’ve been using trusty SLRs, starting off with a Nikon D70s with an 18-200 VR-II lens, before moving onto another Nikon. This time a D7000, again with an 18-200 VR-II lens, but also a 35mm Prime. The latter I got due to the bulk of the 18-200, but also after I careless damaged the lens after 10 years of faithful service. So I went to using my smartphone for images. Honestly, I was kidding myself that this was fine! I also never liked the bulk of an SLR, but I loved the flexibility and quality! OK, maybe not the flexibility or lack of rather, with a 35mm prime. In a small show, the lens’ use is great, but limits. Seeing all of this talk of leftfield cameras in the form of mirrorless items, this would be an opportunity to try the new boy in my collection. This would be in the form of a Sony A6000, shod with a 16-50mm lens. Would I like the camera, would I hate it? Well, I’ll let the images do the talking.
Off I went into the NEC, with the new camera. It was nice not worrying about what I was going to hit. Immediately upon entry, I saw an MG restoration stand, with it showing plenty of stuff, from an original MGB GT V8, in addition to a coveted Costello V8 conversion:
But what was next? Engines of course! But not what you expected. Sure, you had what have become bread-and-butter engines in the British Restomod scene, like the arcetypical Ford Duratec HE engines, but you also had the Duratec derived 2.3 Ecoboost engines! If 320BHP for £7000 sounds like your bag for a turn key engine, then the fabulous ATR stand was certainly worth a look! This would be one of the first hints of things going modern here!
But maybe this is going too modern for some folk out there! Fear not, salvation came in the form of the great Austin Healey stand, which didn’t just have mint condition cars adorning the stand thankfully:
What did you have however where increasingly popular barn-finds in addition to lovely Mercs, like this lovely 300SL:
What was a welcome addition was the Jenson Interceptor Six Pack or SP to others. It’s lovely seeing a bit of Mopar on a British Brute!
If British tin didn’t take your fancy there was a large influx of French material. Alot was very much of the Hydropneumatic variety, with some of these cars being later than what some people would deem acceptable. One was a super rare BX GTi 16 valve. Yes, a rare BX that hadn’t given its heart to a 309 GTI or a 205! There was also new blood in the form of a 306 Rallye. Too new or just right on age, you have to admit; it’s been quite some time since most of us have seen one:
But maybe this was all a little fragile to some people or ‘French’! Fear not. The Teutonic beauty of the German cars was out in full Force. The BMW owners club focused on the best cars from each 3 series generation, while the Audis looked stunning on their stand:
If BMWs were not your thing from the German side of things, that was fine. After all, Porsche was celebrating 70 years of making Sports cars. Naturally, the stand was the typical Porsche stand that had been attending the NEC for years:
When I say usual, I mean a clean cut and professional stand. Did I forget to mention that their stand took up an entire corner and wall within one of the halls?
Here in their large display, they showcased the newcomers like the 911 996s, the Boxsters, the front-engined brethren within the group, all in Zermatt Silver and tidily displayed, as you’d expect from them. That’s not to say Porsche were forgetting their roots. Oh no. Amongst cars being in other colours besides Silver, a slice of their foundation was shown in the form of a tractor:
That’s not to say the British cars were not lacking limelight mind you. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Classic made an appearance, this time showcasing their parts they could offer to Joe Public? This included showcasing a set of 212mph ready tyre set for your XJ220 at a cool £6000; what did I say about the pricey rubber for my M3? Furthermore, their own JLR Single DIN sat-nav to adorn the inside of any older Jaguar or Land Rover.
However, despite the modest display from JLR Classic, signaling a sign of the times of the company, this would not be something the MG Car Club would do. Oh no! Not only was their stand alot larger than JLR’s efforts, but so was the expanse of cars. On one hand, you had superb cars like a Frontline developed MGB Roadster, complete with Rover K Series Power:
Meanwhile, a few steps away was a very interesting effort. At first, it looked like an MGA with its bonnet and grille up. Strange! This car did prove that not all was as it seemed:
But what’s this? A charging port? It can’t be! But that engine doesn’t seem quite right either:
OK, I’ve been holding out on you folks. This, ladies and gentlemen, was showcasing a Finnish outfit’s efforts, Retro EV, about how they saw another chapter in MGA development. A world far away from electronic ignition or even engine swaps. No. This was far more of a transplant! There will undoubtedly be many muttering that this is sacrilege and that allowing it the show is terrible, a crime worse than letting in newer Porsches! A lover or hater of electric classics, you have to admit, the quality of the workmanship looks superb on first glance. But this would not be the only outfit giving electric power a go. Again, this would be another MG, this time an MGB Roadster:
This time, RBW showed their vision of a zero-emission classic car. Gone were the classic Smiths dials present within every MG, and in came a very modern looking display. Again, it was a clean cut effort.
One does begin to wonder about where some of the older JLR products were, like the TWR XJS or some of the Le Mans winners, or even their much publicised Jaguar E-Type Zero! Seeing an OEM’s product against aftermarket retailers would have been an interesting comparison!
Whatever your thoughts, there was no doubt that this show was a great one for a change. There was plenty of material present for the purists, but also with a hint of technology showing the changing times we live in.