WITH record crowds, record-breaking displays, record numbers of exhibitors selling cars for record prices, the London Classic Car Show further established itself as the capital’s premier feast of automotive culture and nostalgia.
This year’s enlarged showcase built significantly on the notable successes of the two previous shows, attracting unprecedented attendances on all four days.
In total, more than 37,000 visitors (11 per cent up on 2016) saw nearly 800 of the world’s finest classic cars on display at ExCeL London. With a combined estimated value of more than £500m, they ranged from barn-finds and in-progress restorations to unique concepts and pure-bred, championship-winning race cars.
Sparkling displays provided by independent vendors ensured all the great marques were well represented. AC, Alfa Romeo, Alvis, Bentley, Bugatti, Fraser Nash, Jaguar, Lotus, Mercedes, MG, Porsche, Rolls Royce and TVR were all included. These lined up alongside a number of today’s manufacturers such as Abarth, Aston Martin and Maserati, all exhibiting their latest models alongside icons from their rich heritages.
The main spotlight in 2017, though, was firmly on Ferrari. The Italian company turns 70 this year and the London Classic Car Show presented an incredible display starring 21 of the greatest cars ever to wear the illustrious Prancing Horse. Never have so many rare and historic Ferraris been displayed in London; the special showcase was conservatively valued at more than £120 million.
The eye-catching tribute featured fabulous examples all the greats – Daytona, 275 GTB, Dino, 250 California, F40 and F50 – and was topped by a scarlet 250 GTO – the most revered and valuable of all Ferraris.
Just 39 of these icons were made between 1962 and 1964 and the show boasted two of them. As well as the GTO in the Ferrari Tribute, a second starred on the GTO Engineering display alongside other masterpieces from Maranello, including a stunning 1955 250 Testa Rossa and an equally rare 250 GT Competition Berlinetta Sport Special rumoured to have been commissioned for Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman.
This year’s show also celebrated the career of Jacky Ickx, hailed by many to be motor sport’s greatest all-round race driver. A special display hosted six of the illustrious cars in which the Belgian had won grands prix, Le Mans and a Paris-Dakar adventure. Ickx himself was present together with three of the drivers he shared Le Mans wins with: Jackie Oliver (1969), Jürgen Barth (1977) and Derek Bell (1975, 1981 and 1982).
This year’s other notable highlights included the rare sight of the celebrated ‘Holy Trinity’ – the three latest hypercars from Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche – on the Prindiville display, the Aston Martin DB10 produced exclusively for James Bond in the Spectre movie on the Corgi stand, an exceptional Aston Martin DB4 Zagato ‘sanction 2’ coupe shown by JBR Capital, plus four incredible concept cars from motor shows of yesteryear which were presented by Octane and EVO magazines.
As well as providing a staggering selection of magnificent classic cars for visitors to relish, dealers confirmed considerable interest from buyers. Two cars were sold even before the show had officially opened its doors and many other significant sales followed during four feverish days. Proving that it is not only a show for premium purveyors, Classic Mini Finder sold a Mini Clubman 1275 for a world record price of £30,500.
Advice for those looking to buy a classic was available from TV expert Quentin Willson. His latest ‘Smart Buys’ were showcased on the Classic Car magazine stand. “It’s got to be made in relatively limited numbers, it’s got to have a certain chemistry, it’s got to have a certain allure,” tipped Willson. “The cars that are going to go up have to be sexy, they have to look good and they have to make you smile.”
Adding to the excitement, the head-turning cars at ExCeL London were not only on static display. No fewer than 66 hand-picked classics – including some thunderous racing cars – were fired up for eye-catching displays on The Grand Avenue, a unique quarter-mile long highway running through the centre of the show.
This year’s theme was The Perfect 10 putting the spotlight on the best six examples of 10 different body styles which then were paraded on the catwalk allowing enthralled visitors to see and hear some of their favourite classics in action.
Another popular attraction was Car Club Square, a hall dedicated to enthusiasts of popular and affordable classics giving visitors the opportunity to talk to experts and fellow devotees.
All those attending the show were also admitted into the new Historic Motorsport International – a complementary show celebrating the UK’s leading role in all areas of historic motor sport. Its introduction added another exhilarating dimension to the visitor experience.