NEC Classic Car show

Atimely event in the classic car calendar, where the NEC is literally filled with projects, barn finds and finished restorations with plenty of cars in between those stages. Timely, as it’s created to motivate the visitor to get their beloved classic back on the road. Perhaps it’s to encourage, maybe it’s simply to buy the parts or in some cases to help make a decision on what car to buy next. To own a car that in the eyes of the general public ‘passed its useful lifespan’ might be the best way to describe a classic car. Something that needs renewing, replacing or repairing can often sound the death nell of car, particularly if the vehicle in question is relied on as a mode of daily transport. The whole psychology of a car, with hindsight, nostalgia and fuzzy recollection is often the main conversation points between classic and non classic car owners.

The event held in the collosal National Exhibition Centre on the outskirts of Birmingham could be classified as the home of the indoor car show, with past motorshows being a major draw to the venue. While the Motorshow as we knew it is hopefully just resting, the classic car world takes over a weekend in March to cater for the not inconsiderable industry. The halls are packed with cars clubs, parts stalls, auction houses as well as almost everything else to cater for the classic car fan. Always a great day out, the National Restoration Show is a great way to start the year in prepartion for the spring time and the promise of dusting off those cobwebs in your beloved classic.

To the casual observer this may appear to be a low spec Lancia Delta, however it’s placement on the Saab stand means it’s actually something even rarer than a standard Delta. The Saab 600, is a dalliance between the two companies in the early ’80s. Saab needed a small car for domestic buyers (remember they never replaced the 96) and incorporated the Delta in their range for six years. Despite the potential (the Delta, like the 96, became a phoenonimal rally car) the 6000 was not a success.

Despite being one of the rarest brands in the UK, Simca and its associated connections with Chrysler have a very active club with a diverse range of classic cars. The Matra Rancho was innovative in its appeal, having pretty much started the fad for rugged aspiration vehicles for the well heeled family. Based in the outgoing Simca 1100 model, it became a sudden success in France and the UK but it’s star faded fairly quickly.

After many years of indifference, it appears that the humble Datsun 120Y has finally become accepted as a bone fide classic! Datsun’s volume seller, helped the brand become the UK biggest importer of cars and throughout the ’70s and ’80s became part of the street furniture. Its appeal was easy to see, they were mechanically simple, easy to drive, impeachable reliability and cheap to run.

Another unlikely and rare classic car, is the Audi 80. The first of a new generation of Audi’s for the ’70s, the B1 Audi 80 was based on the VW Passat and would benefit from the typical teutonic traits of durablity and quality expected from German cars. Unusually rare in the UK these days, compared to its main rival the BMW ’02 series, this car will be subject to ground up restoration.

Celebrating the brands 100’s centenary in 2019, Citroen are preparing a series of events throughout the year to celebrate this milestone. Citroen has a long connection with the UK, with imports starting as early as the 1920’s and Citroens were also assembled in Slough for a period in the 1950’s. Events to watch in the year include a takeover of Coventry for their Covfest event, Silverstone Classic and a stand on the London Classic Car Motor Show.

Maintaining its ability to surprise and to educate, this familar looking design is actually a Brazilian Dodge Polara, based on the Hillman Avenger. Chrysler as global American company had out reaches in all corners of the world, so it was natural that there would be locally built models. South America actually had a deep link with the Avenger, the car was also sold in Argentina and remained in production until 1988. Due to the takeover of the Chrsyler factory by Volkswagen, the car was later badged as the VW 1500.

Ford have a loyal following in the classic car world, with most models tending to reach classic status. Their first FWD effort, the Fiesta took a little longer to achieve that status, but MK1 and MK2 examples make perfect starter classics and their stock has firmed up in recent years. This example is a rare dealer sanctioned cabriolet.