It can present itself as a daunting wave of noise upon walking into Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre for the first time, especially if the first experience you have within it’s walls happens to be Lancaster’s Classic Car Show.
There are gleaming examples of every classic car brand imaginable, punctuated with parts suppliers, food vendors, club displays, auction houses, insurance stands and auto jumble stalls - all situated in halls 1-5, as thousands of people meander around with their agendas. The likes of Bentleys, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Daimlers, Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls-Royces and Mercedes-Benz bring in the glamour, but peppered in amongst the supercars are the true unsung heroes - the Austin Allegros, the Ford Granadas, the Bitters, the Volvos - and the humble Land Rover.
The Series I Club, Series II Club, Range Rover Register and Ex-Military Land Rover Association are just the tip of the oily iceberg. Jaguar Land Rover have their own area, displaying a Velar (may have drooled on it a little…), a stunningly maintained Series I (definitely drooled on that one…) and a ‘patina’ Series I (I think someone recorded footage of me drooling like a demented Labrador on the window…).
Then we get to the Haggerty Insurance stand, where a Range Rover Classic sits alongside the pristine fastbacks and coupes, except upon peering into the cabin you find it’s clearly a work in progress. It has a heartwarming background in which to relish, something lacking in so many ‘low-mileage, always garaged’ hot hatches on the nearby displays. This thing is a labour of love.
The Classic belongs to a member of the Haggerty team, who inherited the vehicle from his late grandfather and has put no end of work into a Range Rover even the specialists would walk away from. But more about that later…
In hall 2 you’ll find the Range Rover Register, alongside the Land Rover Series I Club and the Land Rover Series II Club. However, with this weekend being Remembrance Sunday, it would be apt to pay a visit to the Ex-Military Land Rover Association. I was lucky enough to be present on the stand for the one-minute silence held on Friday morning - it was enough to leave a man welling up on the sacrifices paid by our armed forces.
If you are looking to buy one of the several reported Land Rovers up for auction in the Silverstone arena, you can browse the selection in hall 2, with two Series Is, a Series II LWB and a Series III 88” jostling for your attention - not to mention the low-mileage Land Rover 110 that’s been featured on the front cover of our December 2015 issue.
Looking for Land Rover merchandise and memorabilia? The number of die-cast models, old adverts and accessories for sale in the autojumble is simply mind blowing.
Another exciting aspect comes in the form of Lego - with a team trying to gather 10,000 names to support a Lego Land Rover kit. You can also sign the support list here.
And then we come to the surprise. Defenders, Series Land Rovers and Range Rover Classics litter the show - they can be found within every hall in abundant numbers, however, the number of P38s to be discovered will leave any enthusiast of Land Rover’s unruly, and often alienated, staple of the 1990s grinning from ear to ear.
Rimmer Brothers have a green P38 50th Anniversary on display, while a red 4.6 V8 Vogue is up for grabs on the Hurst Park stand. I was tempted, and it displays the appreciation the second generation Range Rover is acquiring - the Vogue’s asking price is £8,995. However, it’s bloomin’ immaculate.
So, think that the NEC Classic Car Show holds nothing for Land Rover enthusiasts? Think again. I would heartily recommend it.