Posts Tagged ‘excel’


It’s a good idea to run a classic car show in the New Year. Christmas is over, the weather is rubbish, everybody is looking forward to their credit card bill at the end of the month – not. So what we need is a car show to lift the spirits and for those of us who love their classics we have been looking forward to the first ever classic car event at Excel in London ever since it was proposed over a year ago.

First impressions? Well a tad underwhelming to be frank at least as far as the marketing of the event is concerned. Great location, potentially a great format but the promotional effort just seemed a little half-hearted.

Get off the train at Customs House and you see a multitude of signage suggesting that you were actually visiting the London Boat Show which has been held coincidentally at Excel this time of the year for most of the last decade.

Nothing wrong with a boat show being on at the same time and in fact there is probably a lot in common between boat buyers and classic car buyers. Both are obsessed with their toys and think nothing of pouring money into bottomless pits of expenditure. Wives are noted by their absence.

However having found the entrance to the classic car extravaganza it was obvious this was not a half-baked event as far as the exhibitors were concerned. Many of the well-established names in the classic car world were very much in attendance – Joe Macari, Hexagon, JD Classics, Frank Dale and Nicholas Mee – along with a healthy contingent of restorers and other assorted specialist service providers.

A ‘Hall of Fame’ section of the show featured a number of historic Formula One racing cars including Mansell’s ‘Red Five’ plus a huge nod to Adrian Newey’s contribution to motor sport. Some truly great cars were on show in this section.

Certainly the industry seemed to be taking the new event very seriously indeed.

Since the people behind the event have a history of putting together well-organised events such as the Top Gear road-shows it was no surprise to find a ‘live’ feature to entertain the crowds.

A ‘runway’ or ‘catwalk’ ran the length of the hall and at certain times of the day a gaggle of selected classics would make their way individually up and down the track while a commentary about each car was belted out over the PA system.

For those attracted by the aural sensations of a Lamborghini Diablo being fired up this was a lovely place to be. Add to that the explosive arrival of an historic F1 car such as Ayrton Senna’s Lotus 97T which provided a piece of gratuitous wheelspin at each turn at the end of the track and it was schoolboy nirvana. Nice.

It would be impractical to discuss every exhibitor and car in detail but if you are a classic car lover you would not be disappointed and there is plenty to ogle at. Most stands were welcoming and inviting for visitors and in fact most of the cars were left unlocked so peering inside a concours classic was not an issue for the exhibitors it seems.

Amongst the highlights for us were the Eagle E-types which although accepted are ‘re-creations’ rather than original classics the standard of finish and detail of their cars was deeply impressive. A lime-green Stratos also captured our hearts along with a short wheel-base Quattro and every single Ferrari 275 on display.  Hang on what about the Jensen Interceptor Convertible, Lotus Elan, McLaren F1 GTR, Miura, DB6 Vantage and Porsche 912? The list could go on and on but take a look at our show images and decide which are your own favourites.

Will we be going in 2016? Try and stop us, might even try and see a few boats next time too!

Click here for Slideshow  Click here for Slideshow  Click here for Slideshow 

It’s a long time since we went to a London motor show so the event being held at the Excel Centre in Docklands from the 23rd July until the 3rd August offered us an opportunity to go along and see some of the latest offerings from the world of cars. Click here for a slideshow of some of the cars that caught our eye.

Strange place that part of Docklands. You can still see some of the old warehouses from when London was the busiest port in the world rubbing shoulders with new-age linear architecture offering us a glimpse of what the place will look like in twenty years time. The flight path for London City Airport offers an interesting backdrop with planes flying so low you feel you can reach out and touch them as they fly past. Then there is the lagoon which at this particular event was lined on one side with some very nice boats including the inevitable Sunseeker or two.

Yet it feels empty. It’s almost as though there is no rush to turn the area into a stunning location for world-class events and living accommodation. Sure there are more hotels now in the area and there are certainly a lot more eating places but it gives the impression of being unloved. Maybe the Olympics will change all that.

On to the show itself. Firstly, don’t go there expecting to see all your favourite manufacturers represented – they are not. London is still not regarded as a premier event for the car makers but you will still find a few key names displaying their wares and at least there is plenty of space to walk around. Earls Court was handy in the old days but the crowded aisles would offer good practice for rugby scrums. It feels airy at Excel but somebody should have turned on the aircon. OK it was a particularly hot, sticky day on Tuesday but the inside of this modern building should have been like a fridge. Inexcusable!

So what did we see? Well of course the ‘highlight’ of the show was probably the launch of the Lotus Evora. Nice car and one that is likely to score a few points for the company. The overall design works when you see the car in the flesh. Photographs do not do the car justice in our humble opinion and it certainly looks well screwed together. Click here for slideshow of the Evora.

Ford had a sprawling stand that seemed to take up almost half of one of the halls and it looked like they had at least one of every model in the range represented. Pride of place went to the new Focus RS painted in a colour remeniscent of the stuff that comes out of Alien when it gets stabbed by Predator. Wear sunglasses if you intend to stand close to the RS! A nice red example of the GT was present together with the famous 1970 London-Mexico Rally winning Escort (FEV 1H) driven by Hannu Mikkola to remind us of Ford’s one-time supremacy in competitions. Click here for a slideshow of the RS.

Land Rover were close-by with RR’s, Discos, Defenders etc but the pole-dancer on their stand was the LRX. The car (SUV coupe?) looks neat in the photos and standing in front of the design concept you couldn’t help thinking that LR would have a real winner on their hands if they were brave enough to put the car into production. Aggressive styling from virtually every angle gives this car tremendous presence and it looks like it has bags of room inside too. Click here for a slideshow of the LRX

Then we stumbled across a gaggle of electric vehicles offering a ‘green’ alternative to those that obviously have no interest in cars – why do they have to look so dull and boring? They should all take a look at the Lightning GT if they want us to save the planet without having to wear socks and sandles. Lightning had one model on show but boy was it a stunner! A svelte, evocative design with the equivalent of 700 BHP on tap offering 0-60 times of less than 4 seconds and you can select the soundtrack of a V6 or a V12 while you’re at it. Suddenly electric cars get interesting!

A few yards along from the green campaigners were the big guns from the States reminding us that big, brash, loud cars from the US are still alive and very much kicking. Even the smallest of the Hummers could have squeezed a handful of those tiny electric offerings into its luggage space. Chevrolet, Cadillac and Chrysler put on a show that said if we haven’t quite arrived in the UK yet – we’re coming! The orange Camaro convertible looked a cracker. A little bit retro but none the worse for it and looking a damn site prettier than its rival the Mustang.

Honda also had a busy stand with the OSM (Open Study Model) offering some clues to their style direction for the S2000 but with the inevitable low-emission agenda. Certainly the car looks great and like most of the concept cars spinning around on glass turntables it was a little frustrating not be able to get up real close and peek inside. Click here for a slideshow of the OSM.

One stand featured a large collection of very rare (and very expensive) machinery including Koenigsegg, Pagani, Ferrari 612, 599 and 430 Scuderia, Aston Martin, Maserati, Spyker and McLaren SLR. Elsewhere at the show Alfa were showing an 8C (gorgeous but much smaller in the flesh than you might imagine) plus their new MiTo – hmm, not sure about the front-end on that one.

Finally before becoming overwhelmed with the heat and rushing for the exit doors we spotted the new XKR-S spinning around on Jaguar’s stand looking particularly fetching dressed in black. Click here for a slideshow of the XKR-S.