classic car show in a London palace
Because Why Not?
Last month Classic & Sports Car Magazine held their second annual car show at North London’s magnificent Alexandra Palace. When you think of venues to host a classic car show in London, you’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable location than the lavish palace in leafy North London. Held over 3 days between 28-30 October, the show featured an auction of some of the rarest production cars to be built, an exhibition featuring the best supercars of the century, and the usual array of artists, leather driving glove merchants and fancy wine bars you come to expect at these events. I managed to take a sneak peek on the Friday, and it must be said that the calibre of cars and famous faces in attendance was, well, impressive. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of the show:
Before I even bought a ticket, in the main entrance hall, sitting there as gracefully as ever was one of the most intriguing almost-race cars to be built. This one-off Jaguar XJ13 has a 5-litre V12, and was penned by legendary Jaguar designer Malcolm Sayer, whose other creations include the C-Type, D-Type, E-Type, and XJS. Yep, he’s kinda an important figure in automotive history. Unfortunately the car never raced, as Jaguar decided to put all their efforts into the XJ6, and so this remains the only ever XJ13. It nearly got written off in a crash during filming for an E-Type commercial in 1971, and after extensive restoration it’s now looking as good as ever.
I think there’s a rule somewhere that was written in the mid-60s that states: “No classic car show anywhere in the world can open to the public without there being at least one 300 SL”. This show was no exception to the rule, and the 300 SL on show was an absolute beauty. Featured in the “Century of Supercars” exhibition, and although it didn’t get voted “Best Ever Supercar”, there’s something still really special about these cars. I’ve been to hundreds of car shows, and there’s been a 300 SL at nearly every one of them, but I can’t help but stare like some kind of dirty pervert.
Every classic car show has some kind of auction, and this one didn’t disappoint. Hosted by Coys of Kensington, some pretty special cars went under the hammer. An ex-Rod Stewart Miura, an ex-Adam Clayton Ghibli, a one-owner Corvette Stingray, an ex-Chris Evans Rolls Royce Shadow, and a full complement of restored Pagodas, E-Types, Aston Martins and Ferraris. There’s something about the setting of Ally Pally that would totally make me spend more on a car purely based on how it looks in the great halls at that magnificent building!
Something that was particularly unique, and appealed to the retro nerds like myself, was the inclusion of a live restoration on a particularly special car. It’s quite common to see a restoration at the start or end of its life, but to see a car half-restored, in a million pieces, is something you normally only get to see behind closed doors. The guys from Classic Motor Cars put on a good show, and had on display the only Jaguar XK120 with bodywork by Pininfarina. At a show full of one-offs and priceless cars, this was up there as the highlight of the show. They even had an English wheel on display, kudos for whoever’s idea that was.
There’s race cars, and then there’s race cars. Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell 001 is the latter. The name Tyrrell means different things to different people. To some, it means “that funny 6-wheel contraption”, to others, it means a bit more. Between 1968 and 1970, Ken Tyrrell had been using Matra cars for his F1 team, powered by the incredibly successful 3.0-litre Ford DFV engines. When Matra merged with Simca, Tyrrell were asked to use the Matra V12 in their race cars. After initial tests by Jackie Stewart, the team weren’t impressed with the performance of the Matra engine, so Ken Tyrrell made a decision to break away from Matra and build his own race car. So while the first Tyrrell chassis was being developed, the team raced DFV-powered March 701s. With 3 races to go in the 1970 F1 season, Tyrrell 001 was ready, and Stewart raced the car in Canada, USA and Mexico. Unmistakeably a Tyrrell, with its blue Elf branding, this is an impressive monster up close.
After spending hours upon hours browsing hundreds of cars, there was a little surprise on the main stage. None other than John Surtees CBE would be interviewed by Henry Hope-Frost, who will be familiar to anyone who’s even thought the words “Goodwood racing”. Surtees gave us amazing insights into his transition from motorcycles to Formula 1, recounting details from specific laps of races that happened 50 years ago as if they happened yesterday. A whole 15-20 minutes discussing his famous departure from Ferrari, which must have been so frustrating at the time but was re-told with such humour. What was meant to be a 45-minute interview ended up going for over an hour, and I can say with 100% certainty that everyone in attendance wished it could have gone on for another hour or three. Five stars to the show organisers and also John Surtees for being so candid.
Of course, that’s not all there was to see. Hundreds of cars, artworks, vintage clothing and memorabilia was on display. Here’s a selection of other exciting things to make you want to attend the 3rd Classic & Sports Car Show in 2017, which will no doubt be held around the end of October again.