…More than 700 eye-catching classics to covet, savour
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he biggest and best London Classic Car Show blasted off to a truly ‘thunderous’ start at ExCeL on Thursday. For the first time in the sparkling show’s own four-year history, the opening evening witnessed a pair of major global car launches with two of Britain’s most iconic marques unveiling spotlight-stealing new models.
First Morgan took the wraps on its latest +4 Club Sport and then Lister revealed its never-seen-before Thunder. The former is a road-legal racer aimed at those either keen on track days or competing at motor sport’s grassroots level, the latter a mighty 666bhp supercar with a top speed of 208mph. Both cars will now be on display for the remainder of the glittering four-day show.
Earlier in the afternoon, the expanded London Classic Car Show was officially opened by three well-known TV motoring presenters: Alex Riley (BBC One Show), Jonny Smith (Fifth Gear and Mud, Sweat & Gears) and Quentin Willson (BBC Top Gear, Fifth Gear and The Classic Car Show).
Other highlights included a number of high-profile photo calls. Squadron Leader Adam Collins from the RAF Red Arrows was on the Aston Martin Owners Club stand together with a Vanquish S Red Arrows limited edition model which was recently raffled earning £1.5m for the RAF Benevolent Fund. He was joined by Humphrey Bradley from south east London – the lucky man who won the car.
Across the hall, actor Nick Moran of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Harry Potter fame was reliving various of his film roles on the special display of Getaway Cars. Adding to the rogues’ gallery Nick Reynolds was reunited with the very Lotus Cortina that his late father Bruce Reynolds used to stake out the Great Train Robbery in 1963.
The beautifully preserved car has just 3,500 miles on the clock and is still fitted with the same tyres that left the tracks which police found to hunt down the gang. The showcase of Getaway Cars is curated by Philip Glenister – aka DCI Gene Hunt from BBC police dramas Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes – who will be at the show on Saturday.
Another famous face appearing over the weekend is Nigel Mansell CBE. The 1992 F1 World Champion is flying into ExCeL on Sunday where he will be reunited with some of the racing cars in which he savoured many of his most notable sporting successes.
Adding to Thursday’s excitement, at 6:30pm sharp, engines were started as a number of ultra rare classics took to The Grand Avenue, a quarter-mile long highway running through the centre of the show. The Grand Avenue, a feature unique to the London Classic Car Show, allows visitors to see and hear their favourites in action actually inside the show arena.
As a preview to three daily displays taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a number of the 60 incredible cars selected for the parades were in action. These included an amazing revolutionary twin-engined Mini from the sixties, mouth-watering ultra-rare Lamborghini Miura Jota from the eighties and an attention-grabbing selection of raucous F1 cars.
As the dramatic live show came towards its conclusion, the show opening trio of Riley, Smith and Willson – now joined by former Blue Peter and GMTV presenter Anthea Turner – selected four stand-out cars from the show with a combined value of more than £3m to join the parade: a 1931 Bentley 8-litre; a highly-original 1961 Jaguar E-type; a 1992 Jaguar XJ220 and a 2015 McLaren P1 hypercar – a classic car of the future. These four British legends then formed the perfect backdrop for the Morgan and Lister launches.
“The London Classic Car Show just goes from strength-to-strength, getting bigger and better ever year,” said show director Bas Bungish. “We have sold a record number of advance tickets and we are immensely proud to have witnessed two major global launches. Dealers are also reporting a number of significant sales, so we’re off to a great start!”
Admission to the London Classic Car Show incorporates free entry to Historic Motorsport International. Both shows run from 10am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday and from 10am to 5pm on Sunday.