AutoSport and Pistonheads Show – January 2010

The Racing Car show, as it used to be called, has long been not only the first significant event of any New Year, but has long attracted a mixture of exhibitors from the grass roots of UK motor sport along with a sub-set of manufacturers. Now called the AutoSport show, in deference to its sponsor, and combined with a display by Pistonheads it is an event I have attended a couple of times in the past and enjoyed. This year, Forum attendance was right down, and considering that the cheapest entry ticket cost £29 plus booking fee, or £31 on the door, it is hardly surprising. For those who dug deep into their pockets, this is what there was to see.

The event occupies three of the halls at the NEC, and the first one I entered was less than promising, with an awful lot of empty space. This one seemed focused largely on stock car racing, and neither entertained me for long, nor kept my camera very busy.

This truck is based on a Ford which was built for service during the Second World War, and like many others was then acquired cheaply as MoD surplus for the express purpose of hauling stock cars, even in the 1950s.

Hall 9 contained a particularly eclectic mix of stands and displays, with everything from racing garb and helmets, to complete cars along with all sorts of stands selling magic products for cleaning your car and making ti go faster, as well as exclusive and expensive Car Clubs. Ecurie 25 is one of those car clubs and they had 2 cars from their fleet on show.

A Pagani Zonda was another car offered by a similar sort of exclusive club.

Historic rally cars featured in a special display, focused on cars from the 1970s.

Also spotted and photographed was this Holden Maloo.

This fabulous Jaguar XK120 was on a stand promoting the proposed recreation of the Liege-Rome-Liege event, with dates scheduled for June 2010. Wouldn’t that be a fun thing to do?


There was a large stand with no fewer than 5 of these amazing cars on it. A 1300cc Hayabusa engine, and a kerb weight of less than half a tonne means these things are as fast as a Ferrari Enzo, and the video clips on the stand with Tiff Needell and Clarkson driving one reminded show-goers of this fact.


Still very much alive, there were examples of the G40 and G50 to be seen.

Several manufacturers take stand space at the event.


There were 4 cars on this stand: an XK-R and XF-R were complemented by a couple of non-road cars. Sadly, I do not appear to have any pictures. The XF-R remains an object of real desire, and so I had thought is the XK-R, but I can not confidently say that I would never ever want to ride in the back of one. Having adjusted the driver’s seat to suit my proportions, not only could Jonny not get in the back, but nor could I. Worse still, the front part of the rear seat cushion is both hard and every high compared to the rest of the seat squab, making for an utterly uncomfortable experience even if there were any leg room (which there is not!).


On Lotus’ own stand, there was a show debut for the Evora Cup, which was presented alongside the familiar 2-Eleven.

There were plenty of historic Lotus cars scattered throughout the show. This is a Type 4 – the oldest known Lotus.

The Type 32

This one is a Type 49


Making its UK debut is the soon to be available 308 RC-Z.

Along with the 2009 Le Mans winning 908 car, Peugeot were also showing some 207s in sport guise.


A small presence for this marque, new to Britain, with the G37 Convertible and FX50 on show.


£124,900 is the price tag on the GT-R Spec-V, which seems like an awful lot of money over and above the standard car.


A new name to me. This rather Zonda-esque car is apparently poised to enter production. £140,000 is required to secure this sports car powered by a 6.3 litre Corvette engine.


There were 2 separate stands for Porsche. The factory one was focused on racing editions of the current cars.

The Owners Club stand, in the Pistonheads area, featured examples of each generation of the 911 Turbo from 930 to 997, as well as a 944.

Also on show was an example of the latest Panamera.

Alfa Romeo

I found this display rather disappointing. Instead of seeing a whole load of historic Alfas, what was presented were a collection of cars modified by Autodelta, some more tastefully than others.

There were two examples of the 116 model Giulietta, though. The red one is familiar from other Italian car events, but the Lucca plated one was new to me. This was in fact also an Autodelta car, but one sanctioned by the factory, and is one of just 367 2.0 Turbo cars that were made between the launch at the 1982 Paris Show and the end of production in 1985.

Nicest Alfa on show by far was this lovely Montreal. Just as well it was not for sale, as a certain Mr Malim expressed how much he would love a Montreal, and who can blame him. This one was in fine fettle.

Allegedly, this is one one of just 2 yellow coloured 8C Competizione in the UK


There were three supercars on the Autocar stand, and all looked rather special: Of the three, the Noble M600 looked the most innocuous.

You certainly would not miss the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 if you saw it approaching you.

I was expecting there to be crowds around the Lexus LF-A all the time, and there were not. It was attracting a fair amount of interest, and everyone seemed both to know just what i will cost and to be remarking on how expensive it is. Many people also put their fingers under the front bonnet lip, assuming it was on the latch, whereas in fact it is designed like that.

Pistonheads Show.

This constituted the third hall and was comprised mostly of members’ cars. A wide variety of vehicles were included, one of which was rather familiar.

David Yu’s Nissan GT-R was there, too, resplendent in its new livery.

There were plenty of other cherished cars in this area.

Someone missed a trick as there was a 130i included in the displays, and a blue one would have photographed better than this specimen!

TVR were well represented, as you might expect.

For Sale

Coys Auction House had some cars lined up for sale, which varied from some restoration case Jaguar XK120s, through some rather more immaculate machinery, such as these:

This example of Mr Bean’s Mini is the one which he used at the Goodwood Revival last September.

Also for sale, and shown on the Octane stand was this Mercedes CLK. £139,000 or more was the quoted price.

The same stand featured a modern Shelby Daytona Coupe II.

World Rally Cars

One of the special displays was of some notable WRC cars from the 1980s and 90s. Savour these!

2009 Formula One Cars

An example of most of the F1 car types from the 2009 season was the centre piece of a display area which fronted the area where you could queue up (and the lines were long) to get autographs of whichever famous driver happened to be available at the time. When I was in the vicinity, it was Martin and Alex Brundle, and the queues were long. Heaven knows what they were like when Jensen Button was busy with his pen.

Autosport magazine is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and they had assembled a collection of historic sports and racing cars from the ages to show on their stand.

Summing up, this was a good day out, but I have to say that it was far too expensive. The show costs more than the NEC Classic Car/MPH event, and has far less to see. To gain access to the outdoor events, the karting and the privilege of queuing up to get an autograph requires you to pay even more for a Paddock Pass (I did not!), which is blatant profiteering. Much as I enjoyed the event, I’m afraid I will think twice about attending next year.

2010-01-18 08:52:05

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