Every January, thousands of motorsport and performance car fans flock to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham for the Autosport International and Performance Car Show. This year, Stuart from The Car Expert attended as a guest of event sponsor Landsail Tyres.
The Performance Car Show seems to get bigger and busier each year. This year, in addition to exotica like Ferraris, McLarens and Lamborghinis, there was a tribute to the hot hatch, with a hall of fame resplendent with beautifully turned-out performance hatchbacks. Pride of place went to the vehicle voted by Pistonheads members as the greatest hot hatch ever made, the Peugeot 205 GTi.
In addition to the vast line-up of cars and car accessories, there is also the live arena, which takes the show to another dimension altogether. From motocross stand riders, to sprint cars, to the Jaguar C-X75 used by the Bond villain in SPECTRE, to F1 star Felipe Massa driving Keke Rosberg’s old Williams FW08C, there was noise aplenty and many donuts were performed.
Visitors could even take a passenger ride in a Ginetta racing car around an indoor drift track, or take part in a go-kart race on a specially-built indoor circuit. Many stands also had racing simulators, often with prices for fastest lap of the day.
Auction company Coys always have a large auction in conjunction with the show, and once again there were some fantastic machines up for grabs, as well as an enormous amount of automotive memorabilia.
Most F1 teams, as usual, sent a car along for the F1 grid display. All the top teams were present, with only Manor and Sauber absent. Williams had a huge presence at the show this year, in a tribute to the team’s history. A number of cars from the 1980s and 90s were brought up from the Williams museum, including championship-winning cars for Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell. The team even brought along their motorhome, which is normally seen in F1 paddocks around the world during the year, when it is not being used for luxury motorhome hire.
Next door to the Williams display was Classic Team Lotus, showing off some of the glorious old cars from the ‘real’ Lotus era, rather than the last few years where a team has simply licensed the Lotus name. On display were a 1973 Lotus 72 and a rare turbine powered Lotus 56B.
Being the start of a new year, there were various unveilings for racing teams’ new cars, liveries and drivers. The BTCC stand was very busy with punters trying to get a glimpse of 2016’s new cars for drivers like Rob Austin.
As well as the hot hatch hall of fame, with vehicles provided by Pistonheads members, there was CarThrottle’s stand of modified performance cars, some classic Porsches from the Porsche GB Owners Club, the usual collection of tastelessly modified Land Rovers, an Autocar collection of some of their favourite cars of 2015 and a whole host of engineering companies showing off their performance parts from everything from Fiats to Ferraris.
If you haven’t been to the Performance Car Show and Autosport International in January before, it is well worth a trip. The whole exhibition is vast, so get there nice and early if you want to have time to see all that’s on offer.