An Electrified NEC Classic Car Show!

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.

This will be a familiar entry to many!

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.


A Different Kind of Event : Roadkill Show at EBC Brakes, Northampton

It’s funny. I never thought I would ever see myself going to EBC for any reason at all; I never had a reason to. That was until two weeks ago when something would change that. The small announcement make by two blokes called David Freiburger & Steve Dulcich, stating that they would be hosting a small show at EBC in Northampton:

There were a few more crumbs dropped along the way but not much at all.

There was only one thing for me to do. Turn up. Given my crazily busy Saturday it was nice to have more a chilled day. Which is why I got up and ready to be there for 9am, an hour earlier: I had visions of parking miles away! But to be fair all was well and it was well time, especially since I got to meet up with Dean and check out what the fuss was about his Dodge Dart. This car is also for sale for £6500: Not bad for a quirky V8. Who said roadworthy American motoring was extortionate?

Coming along early however was no bad thing. I got to see a few familiar faces.  It’s always good to meet a very familiar face of Retro-Rides.

Since EBC stuck rigorously to only opening their doors at 10am we decided to have a scoot around the area surrounding EBC to see what cars were about. After all, a capped 200 car limit isn’t a lot of space within EBC’s grounds.

There was plenty of interesting stuff about mind you, and variety too! When have you seen a Dart, a clean Volvo 244 and a Nova all in the same place?

This Volvo was interesting: The queue was too that was already building up at the gates!

There was plenty of dedication from this Mini owner. Why? He took his bonnet off in order to get it signed by David Freiburger. More on that later…

The Roadkill theme was strong for sure! Just take this tidy Orion!  If it was any more obvious it could almost be the UK promotional car, with the Roadkill spirit showing.

Despite the eccentric and Roadkill themed cars, a clean looking Amazon made it down:

By the time we had our walk around the queue had grown. This was just before we were let in! Did someone say underestimate?

Before we knew it, we were in. And truth be told it was worth the wait. The hour long Q&A that the duo did certainly wasn’t lacking people. It was a very down-to-earth vibe, even with those who got the brief chance to meet them.

Now for the bit your have been waiting for. The cars. There were familiar Fords about:

German and Scandinavian machinery was there too:

The Volvo 960 looked to be running a Toyota 2JZ engine with the Mercedes W123 being on throttle bodies using a later twin cam engine:

One day I’ve love to build something like this from an old Ford. The Anglia had so many things right about it. Maybe one day I will build something like this.

The MX-5 Rear Wheel Drive Clubman. Or rather the MX-5 with a Clubman body ;):

Amazingly, that crowd was still present around the Engine Masters gang an hour after they started their question and answers session.  The end did not seem to be in sight with the audience absorbing the duo’s responses like a sponge:

As always Pipey McGraw’s triple rotor Wankel engined Jaguar E-Type was met with a mixed reception.  However, the controversy did not stop there.

What was met with an even more mixed emotions was the Dodge Charger.  This was down to the car having been fettled with by Diesel Pump UK.  But what would a diesel tuning outfit want with a Dodge Charger I hear you ask?  That’s simple.  This one was a sporting an increasingly popular engine swap ; a Mercedes OM606 Turbo Diesel engine as found in W210 Mercedes E-Classes.  Except this one was churning out a lot more power ; around 750BHP.

There was variety between marques too.  Take these two Fords.  One is a relatively standard car.  The Capri, not so much:

Unsurprisingly for the US hosts the American theme was certainly strong over here.  It was not however to say that the few Japanese cars couldn’t steal part of the limelight:

If anyone deserves a medal at the show it’s these two. David and Steve spent the entire day chatting briefly to people and signing autographs. This includes the autograph on a Mini Bonnet. Yes, the very same one that was at the start of this post. How many people were waiting?  A lot.

This rat-rod won car of the show. Not just down to its power plant or overall vibe but also for its backstory, as told by someone who knows Rogan, his brother who was the architect behind the project:

The rat rod was built as an after-school STEM project by some lads at a boarding school just outside Stourbridge, for the disabled brother of Rogan, the leader of the project. They started it when they were about 15 and they’re around 18 now I believe. It’s been down the track at Shakespeare County Raceway a few times, and also on display at Coventry Motor Museum. The looks tend to split opinion but you can’t deny it has an impressive backstory.

As a result the access was made much easier but also hand controls added in order to use it. As for the power plant it was a different take on a used ‘rodder’s engine:

Only towards the end of the day did the queue for the signatures before to ebb away:

As a treat I also got to chat to Jeff Lutz. Indeed, the same bloke who has done all sorts of drag racing! For someone well known in the drag scene (no, not that one!) he was a very genuine and levelheaded bloke. It was a real pleasure to chat to him. Fair play for him coming over as well and mingling in with the crowds:

Jeff Lutz

But again, a lot of props to David & Steve for finally coming over but also for signing stuff for the entire day! Elena was a great sport throughout the day dealing with a number of things that occur at such shows and was a great host.

Were there not enough pictures here for you?  Fear not.  There are plenty more over here which should keep you occupied for some time.