The British International Motor Show – A Pictorial
The British International Motor Show returned to the nation’s
capital last month, for the first time since flares were in fashion.
decades at the vast, but somewhat soulless, NEC near Birmingham,
the show has found a new home in what used to be Docklands, at the
super-modern Excel Arena.
much smaller venue but there was a huge effort to provide something
different, with the opportunity to test drive a vast array of new
(albeit mostly rather humdrum) cars, plus an off-road track and
a circuit time challenge, where drivers had the opportunity to set
a lap time around a short course in either a new MX5 or an RX8.
Inside the hall
there was the opportunity to get up close and personal with the
usual vast array of new metal from most (not all) of the mainstream
manufacturers. The VAG group was absent (with the exception of SEAT
and Bentley) and there was a no show from Fiat too (although Alfa
Romeo did exhibit).
This being dailysportscar
though you wouldn’t expect us to ponder on the merits of the
new Ford S-Max versus the Mazda 5, or to waste time comparing the
Kia Picanto with the brand spanking new Vauxhall Snoresa. Instead
we’ll take a stroll through some of the exotic metal on show.
With a very
compact show there was precious little by the way of direct GT racing
interest, but the 2005 Super GT winning Nissan Fairlady Z was in
pride of place on the Nissan stand (where else?), fresh from setting
best time of the weekend in regular driver Richard Lyons’
hands up the hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
was the Aston Martin V8 Vantage which raced this year to a very
competitive finish at the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring, a success
which has prompted the factory to offer a short run of replicas
to club racers.
Aside from the
smattering of race cars though there was exotica aplenty on show.
TVR was showing their new Tuscan II Convertible alongside the Sagaris,
but there was a great deal of interest in the sole remaining Cerbera
Speed 12, which sat shining on the stand.
Jaguar had a
pair of new XK8s, coupe and convertible, whilst Ford-owned cousins
Aston Martin had its whole range of cars on display, together with
the gorgeous Rapide 4 door saloon, a concept based on the underpinnings
of the DB9 - which is so sexy the security guard on the stand needed
to gently fan himself to prevent an unseemly incident.
displayed the Exige S and the new Europa: the new Esprit is still
some way off yet.
display included an Aero 8 chassis alongside a complete road car
and Bentley was showing off the new Continental GTC and Azure droptops.
The BMW Group’s
open air display included the new Z4 Coupe and M6 Coupe (displayed
alongside a simply enormous BMW sponsored ocean going yacht) and
Corvette had a trio of C6s on display, including a gleaming Z06,
alongside Cadillac’s extensive display, which included the
super rare (in Europe) XLR.
fans of the weird and the wonderful, there was a massive display
simply stunning McLaren F1LM there were examples of the Ariel Atom,
Noble’s M12 and the brand new M15, Ascari KZ1, Stealth B6....
astonishing V10 engined Fighter, the Invicta....
.... and the
new Connaught, a 2 door coupe with surprisingly straight laced styling
destined for a hybrid powertrain, but featured here with a conventional
And of course
the best of the rest too, with a large gaggle of Ferraris: Enzo,
F50 and F40, 430, 612, 575 and Superamerica. Lamborghini’s
Gallardo Spyder, Pagani Zondas in coupe and droptop spec....
.... and from
Germany the Mercedes CLK DTM, a pair of (British built) SLRs, including
one displayed beautifully alongside a 300SL Gullwing.....
... the amazingly
compact Wiesmann (below) plus inevitably a Porsche 997 and Carrera
Holding up the
Stars and Stripes were a pair of Ford GTs, a very green Mosler MT900,
Viper Competition Coupe and a Shelby Daytona Coupe.
great to be able to report that Holland’s finest, the Spyker
looked not at all out of place in this company.
concept cars there was the now familiar Peugeot 907, Saab’s
future vision, the Aero X....
.... the allegedly
soon to be built MB ‘Exigence of Speed’ Supercar...
Caparo T1, a super lightweight hypercar designed by a team of ex-McLaren
And, for those
with a more traditional bent, the 21st century interpretation on
a Lancia Stratos theme, the Fenomemon Stratos, a beautifully executed
rendering by Royal College of Art graduate Chris Hrabalek. The car
was finished for the show in the hugely evocative Alitalia colours
– quite extraordinarily it seems that the design consultancy
which has produced the Fenomenom actually now owns the rights to
the Stratos name!
All in all a show that was just the right size,
with plenty to see, and happily plenty of places to rest those weary
feet. No having to sit on an industrially carpeted concrete floor
clutching a can of Coke and a polystyrene tray of chips here! NEC,
you’d better have a long hard look at what you offer!