Adrian Newey, Christian Horner, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard were among the stars on hand to help launch the inaugural London Classic Car Show on Thursday night at the ExCel complex in the capital’s docklands district.
But the real stars were the cars – particularly those on the show’s signature stands.
We were delighted to present our Motor Sport Hall of Fame display, featuring eight wonderful Grand Prix cars representing the careers of the founding members of our exclusive car for racing heroes.
Fans flocked to take pictures of a Michael Schumacher Benetton; a priceless Alfa Romeo Tipo B thought to have been raced by Tazio Nuvolari; Ayrton Senna’s Lotus 97T in which he scored his first Grand Prix victory, in 1985 at Estoril; Enzo Ferrari’s first World Championship winner, the 500 which Alberto Ascari used to dominate the 1952 and ’53 seasons; a Jackie Stewart Tyrrell 006 and a Jim Clark Lotus 25; and a glorious BRM V16, the ‘glorious failure’ in which Juan Manuel Fangio had a brief flirtation in 1953.
Kevin Wheatcroft’s Donington Grand Prix Collection kindly loaned the Ferrari and BRM, and also the Vanwall we’d requested to represent Stirling Moss – although we were surprised to receive the ‘wrong’ car.
We’d expected the iconic VW5, in which Moss and Tony Brooks shared victory in the 1957 British Grand Prix. Instead, to our surprise, the fabulously sculpted – and unraced – streamliner arrived. Moss never drove this car, but it would be churlish to complain. As appreciative crowds acknowledged, it was a privilege to feature such an interesting and special car on our stand.
The other stand-out draw for racing fans at the show was the Adrian Newey collection on the other side of the giant ExCel hall. The designer and 2012 Hall of Fame inductee curated the display himself, choosing key F1 cars from his own body of work, but also cars that inspired him in his youth – among them a Mini Cooper, his own Ford GT40 and charmingly, a Riley identical to the one his father owned.
A March Indycar and GTP sports car from his early career reminded us how important that 1980s ‘apprenticeship’ was to Newey before he became the eminent F1 designer of his generation. The stripped-down tub of the ex-Graham Hill Lotus 49B he bought last year showed a work lovingly in progress, while blown up drawings of his F1 designs completed a fabulous display.
James May, who opened the show with TV chef James Martin, presented his ‘Cars that Changed the World’, while a novel avenue down the centre of the hall allowed cars to be started up and run, adding an original flavour to this new show.
The show runs until Sunday. If you find yourself at a loose end this weekend, we’d urge you to pay a visit. Find out more at www.thelondonclassiccarshow.co.uk
Our sincere thanks to Kevin Wheatcroft and the Donington Grand Prix Collection, Nick Fennel, Classic Team Lotus, John Delane, Hall & Hall and Paul Grist for kindly loaning us their fabulous Grand Prix cars for the Hall of Fame stand.