Another Autosport International show at NEC, Birmingham. I could complain about the same things I complained about before, but I did go. Begs the question why I would go anyway. Here’s why.
I’m still not happy with the fact the information on which I base my decision to go or not to go on is released far too late. So again I got my tickets very shortly before the show. But to be fair to them, the rest is all good.
Last year it seemed very busy, so busy I wasn’t quite comfortable to walk around and enjoy the cars. This year it must have been as busy, but it didn’t feel that way. The atmosphere, as always, was relaxed and people in general gave others the time to have a good look at cars or take photos. Perhaps it helped that we arrived earlier than last year. We were there just before it opened at 09:00. But then again, we had to – Dario Franchitti’s first signing session was at 09:55!
This year there was quite a list of things that attracted me. The fact they had all seven surviving Lotus 49s there (see photo above) was certainly a bonus. Now I’ve been to Classic Team Lotus’ home I am even more interested than I was before and this is a sight to behold.
There was a reasonably large number of Aston Martins, always a good thing in my books, and looking out for the hordes of classic Minis (racing or otherwise) is good fun.
Because I was so early I finally got a chance to get in a Ginetta. After the Caterham experience in 2014 the hall which also holds the karting track has been host to the Ginetta Experience. It’s basically the same as the Caterham experience – donuts! – but then in a Ginetta. And who doesn’t love Ginettas? I have a huge soft spot for these fearless cars with faces.
I can now tell you they are as much fun to be driven around in as they are to watch while they’re racing. I guess it’s time I book myself a chance to drive one, right?
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This year I didn’t see the show at the Live Action Arena. We had booked it for very late in the afternoon, because we already knew there would be a chance we wouldn’t go to see it. But with paddock passes you can still see what’s happening backstage at the show. And as before a lot was on repeat. I don’t think it matters much, because there will always be people who visit for the first time. The racing series which are represented in the show seem like fun and who would want to deny them a chance at a bigger audience?
I did spot an Aston Martin DB11, which was a bonus.
I didn’t find the electric GT car, which I am curious about. Thankfully the Formula E car was easier to spot, as that was positined near the F1 grid. The car of choice was a Jaguar. And Jaguar is this year’s newcomer in the series.
It was parked right behind James Hunt’s Hesketh, so the show’s combination of old and new was very evident.
Coys had a lot of nice classics on display which were going under the hammer that weekend (as in: auctioned off, not destroyed). One of them caught me off guard. It looked like an Aston Martin Ulster, but turned out to be a gorgeous replica. Still an absolute joy to see!
A large part of the show is filled with stands of companies specialising in stuff we petrolheads without a project car wouldn’t be interested in. If you’re such a petrolhead, like me, do look around. Some of these stands have amazing cars on display. You might be missing out if you don’t go and have a look.
Overall this year was a better experience than last year, not only due to the less busy feeling, but also due to the diversity. For me personally there were many cars that have my attention and which became the reason for my visit.
I spent five hours at Autosport International and can report I was a happy petrolhead when I left.