London Classic Car Show proves that less is so much more

Formula 1 cars getting sideways were among the highlights from the opening night of the fourth London Classic Car Show at ExCel

The opening evening of the London Classic Car Show matched the cliché in that less really is more. Compared to the likes of the NEC Classic Motor Show, this weekend’s Thursday to Sunday exhibition at the ExCel, London is considerably smaller but equally rich.

TV presenters Jonny Smith, Quentin Wilson and Alex Riley opened the show and from there it was awash with some of the most iconic historics of all time. From pre-War Bentleys and Alfa Romeos, through a restored Ford GT40 Mk1 roadcar and Ferrari 288 GTO to a bare carbon Koenigsegg CCXR and McLaren P1. The whole spectrum of traditional and modern classics were on display.

It was supported by manufacturers too, with Aston Martin Works displaying a restored DB5 Volante and a mustard yellow DB6 to showcase its long-serving Newport Pagnell plant. Lister also publicly unveiled its F-type-based 666bhp Thunder.

The ticket fee also gains entry to Historic Motorsport International with stands from the likes of the Historic Sports Car Club, and a wealth of Group A Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500s and Group B rally cars featuring.

Arguably, the most unique and successful feature of the Classic Car Show is its ‘Grand Avenue’ – a live section of coned-off hall space for cars to drive round. In capable hands, a Jaguar XJR-15 and Eagle's E-type Speedster slithered around the circuit with impressive angles of oversteer for such tight confines.

But the biggest crowd pleaser came with a run of 1980s and '90s Formula 1 cars. An ex-Michael Schumacher Benetton 193B and Dallara BMS 190 featured but Steve Griffiths in his Lotus 101 stole the show. The 640bhp Judd V8 echoed around the hall and he again slid the car around for a couple of laps to end the live action on a particularly high note.

Still to come is headline guest Nigel Mansell. The 1992 F1 champion will visit the show on Sunday, but already in place is an impressive ensemble of some of his cars – spanning his career in Formula Ford through to the title-winning Williams FW14B.

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