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Sunday, 23 November 2014

This year's NEC Classic Motor Show was overwhelming but brilliant

PETER Capaldi probably should have landed his TARDIS in the middle of one of Britain’s biggest car shows last weekend.

The National Exhibition Centre might be all the way down in Birmingham but it’s also one of the few shows outside the North West good enough to draw in petrolheads in significant numbers.

Even though I’ve only just got back from four very long days at the NEC, I’d urge anyone thinking of going next year to start planning now. One of Britain’s biggest car shows, I’ve discovered, has an annoying knack of corrupting time and space.

For starters, even though the venue itself isn’t an inch bigger than it was 12 months ago this year’s show somehow managed to squeeze an extra 100 cars in, almost all of which were bathed in the unsettling orange glow you only seem to get from 1970s tungsten lighting. The show itself was also populated by thousands of humanoid beings trudging between the Ford Anglias and Triumph Dolomites; they looked and sounded human, but plenty of them had an unerring ability to talk for hours on end about kingpins and trunnion bearings. I should know, because I’m one of them.

Worst of all, however, is that by depriving you of natural light and overloading you with cars to look at the NEC Classic Motor Show completely screws with your perception of time. The show’s eleven halls had the ability to shrink entire ten-hour days into what felt like twenty minutes, and then to spew out all that vacant time into the period you spend queuing for a Subway meal deal outside. 

Three days to look at 1,800 cars in even the briefest of detail just isn’t enough, which is why if you’re planning on going next year – and if you love cars, you really should – get booking those hotel rooms rather than in 11 months’ time. No matter how blistered your feet end up after wandering around those halls, it’s worth it because of what you get to see.

Despite time and space being utterly warped in this alien, orange-tinged landscape I managed to find plenty of cars to fall in love with. There was, for instance, a one-off Rover P6 rebodied by Zagato, a Ford Capri convertible – a car Ford itself never actually produced – and an utterly wonderful Maserati Sebring I desperately wanted to just drive off the stand and take home. 

Best of all, however, was an unrestored Jaguar XK120, which I could have bought had the NEC’s distortive qualities somehow expanded the tenner in my pocket to £57,000. Maybe next year!

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