We all should, right? Because no matter how many shows we go to, there are always others we miss out on.
But what I’m talking about are the type of car shows. We’re all guilty of going to the same shows, seeing largely the same people, with the same cars. And that’s cool; having friends with like-minded interests is good, but discovering new things and looking around once in a while is something we all need to do more often. Social media has got us all looped in and ring-fenced, only seeing what we click ‘like’ on and ‘discovering’ what’s shown to us by an algorithm.
This is why I went to the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in England last November, although my show choice is largely unimportant. In fact, the further away from your interests you stray, the more you stand to gain.
So why did I go to this show? I’d never been before and that’s enough of a reason in my book.
And, I frickin’ love cars. I own some old ones and they’re classics, so a few hours with headphones in and a camera near my face made for a perfect Sunday escape.
I didn’t go in with a prescribed idea of what I was going to see, or maybe even write an article about. Instead, I wandered.
And it was only then that I started to realise how many people were missing out on some utter gems, and why you should always look closer.
The Sierra Cosworth is bad ass, iconic and known for wearing race liveries to die for. So it’s no surprise that plenty of people were checking out UK-based Cosworth specialist Paul Linfoot’s RS500 touring car.
But how about this one? I stood next to this three-door RS for about 10 minutes, and nobody else took a second look at it. But this is one of the most important Cosworths ever.
Why? Because this is one of 10 pre-production cars that Ford built. After the decision was taken to make the three-door an actual production model, the 10 were sent rallying through the dealer network. One other car is said to survive, but it’s not as original as this one.
C240 HVW’s other claim to fame was having a skier on the roof set a world record at 137mph, and it’s been seen on Speedhunters before with an Ayrton Senna connection. This is where the Sierra Cosworth hype started.
One of the things I enjoy the most about wandering around a scene I’m not overly familiar with is getting inspiration to apply to my own projects. This MG Midget race car looks amazing; the orange and black paint scheme works so well for me. Fat 15-inch wheels and aero make the tiny sports car a load more aggressive.
Nacelle-type aero is the sort of thing you’d more commonly find on a ’50s Ferrari or Jaguar D Type, but here it was added to another MG. I’ve never seen one fitted to an MGA before, but how cool would something like this look on a late-model Mazda MX-5/Miata with a speedster-style windshield?
My daily is a Defender 110. In my head it looks like this when I drive down the motorway*
*It doesn’t and I don’t.
With simple styling and your favourite manufacturer logo on the chest, old school rally jackets are ace. Everything old is new, right? Why fake it when if you look hard enough you can still find things like this out there.
Going back to race liveries, to celebrate 20 years since the 986 Boxster was launched, Porsche Centres from around the UK each restored and race-prepped an early example. Each Boxster was then dressed in an iconic Porsche livery, and one of my favourites was the Bobby Rahal ‘Hippy 917′ inspired scheme you can see in purple and green behind this Coke red one. But any chance to introduce more people to the fact there’s a UK dealer named Dick Lovett can’t be missed.
The fact is, I’ll take my inspiration from anywhere. This Lambretta scooter paint job really appealed; the two tones work so well together. I’m not so convinced by the vintage triple-tone effort below it, but mix the colours and apply in your own style and you never know.
That’s the challenge, adapting what you see to make it work for you.
One thing that makes me laugh is when people say their car is ‘stage 3′ or a cam is ‘stage 2′ spec. When you boil it down, it doesn’t really make sense and needs a lot more explaining. So I’ve always fancied having a ‘stage 9′ badge somewhere on an engine, just for shits and giggles… In this case though, ‘Stage V’ is a cylinder head and intake system specialist.
A few of you will know what this is, for those that don’t it’s an Austin/British Leyland 1800 ‘Landcrab.’ Riding on hydrolastic suspension, which was never that reliable, tuneable, or suitable for anything other than heading down the shops, this one drove from London to Sydney and was displayed by the Historic Marathon Rally Group.
Along with some other properly random rally cars, MGBs are meant to be sports cars but they take some serious work to be made competitive. They’re also pretty small inside, so what better base to stick 60 litres of fuel in cans out back and drive around the world? Or maybe a Mk2 Cortina on puny steels with a third windscreen wiper on the roof? These are amazing; can you imagine for a second setting off on the kind of journeys these did in the late ’60s and early ’70s? Everything has potential.
And that’s why this Fiat Ritmo is getting some love from me, too. Given the 131 or something like a Lancia HF, would you go to all the trouble of building a Ritmo? Have you even heard of one, let alone sourced a full wide-arch body kit for one?
Now this might be more obvious, but I had to get some pictures of it anyway. Every time I see a Metro 6R4 I have to stop, look and smile when I imagine the conversation that had to happen somewhere in Birmingham in the 1980s.
“You know that very (very) average, front-wheel drive city car we make? The one that’s not as good as a Golf?”
“The one we stick wood on the dashboard to make people feel fancy in?”
“Yeah, that one. Shall we get rid of everything but the A-pillars and light lenses, make it four-wheel drive and stick a mid-mounted V6 in it?”
“Sounds like a fine plan. Pass me that glue…”
Mind you, somewhere nearby at Jaguar a team of engineers were making plans for the XJ220, which you can now buy a new set of tyres for, for nearly £6,000. The legacy of ’80s lunacy continues, and I love it.
Here’s something else I lusted after when I was a kid. Holidays in France meant I used to see these around, but a Talbot Matra Rancho is like a unicorn in the car world. A random model at the time (it’s not 4WD even though it looks it), it came from a manufacturer on its last legs and rotted quicker than it could accelerate. Parts back up? Nah mate. Whoever is responsible for this one is seriously dedicated.
Perched on an Austin stand I spotted these two models, which look like they might be manufacturer early mock-ups. I’m not sure the wheels are original on the larger saloon, but they did get me thinking about a British-inspired safari saloon build…
Have a wander around the gallery below and I’ll check in on the comments if you have any questions. But I’ll leave you with this one last random find – a genuine Opel/Vauxhall Kadett 4S. Intended for Group B rallying, it weighs around 960kg and when supercharged like this one, was supposedly good for around 325bhp.
How many of you would walk past it? I did, twice.
Get out there, because you never know what you’re missing out on.