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American Classics Shine at NEC Show
It’s one thing visiting an event such as the recent Classic Car Show at the NEC as a casual observer, but quite another if you are there looking for parts to finish off or enhance a current classic car project. Instead of aimlessly walking the aisles, suddenly the show has real purpose.
This year’s event was very much a combination of glitz and glamour mixed with a serious dose of practicality. The latter was thanks to a large group of traders selling almost anything the classic car buff might require, from a huge variety of tools, to nuts and bolts, sound-proofing material, chromium-plated accessories, even bonnets and doors – in short, it was classic car nirvana.
The event was very well attended from an American vehicle standpoint, perhaps the most impressive display of US iron being found on the Classic American magazine stand, where staff had assembled a variety of pristine, restored classics on which enthusiasts could feast their eyes. Of particular note was the 1960 Lincoln Continental Mk V convertible, belonging to David Williams, which epitomised all that was great about American car design of that era.
1960 Lincoln Continental Mk V
This was the first time we’d seen the Lincoln in the metal, and it’s simply stunning. Every feature, from the outrageously styled dashboard to the exquisitely shaped rear bumper incorporating six, stylised tail lights, demands serious attention. They just don’t make cars like this anymore, and in one sense it’s easy to see why – such big, bold styling and general excess would undoubtedly send today’s environmentalists into fits of apoplexy. On a more practical note, simply piloting a car like this on Britain’s roads would be a major challenge, and storing it in anything other than a custom-built garage would be out of the question. All of that said, this is one awesome car, and it’s difficult to believe it was a standard production model.
For hot rod enthusiasts, the NSRA had assembled a cross-section of rods and customs, together with Mark Fullard’s nostalgic dragster (featured in DRCReview July 2005). Hot ‘n’ Bothered, the famous Fordson van created by 1970s’ rodder John Baldachino, was a notable inclusion in the display, but although historically the car has significant appeal, it just doesn’t seem to stand out as anything special anymore – perhaps a sign that the benchmark for UK hot rodding has reached an altogether higher level?
Hot 'n' Bothered now without the custom paintwork, but still in good shape
The Meguiar’s club showcase stand, perhaps one of the most impressive displays in the whole event, had two of the UK’s finest rods on show. In matching black were Hanspeter Wurmli’s ’32 Roadster (featured in DRCReview Sept 2006) and Vince Grant’s Model A Coupe, and there’s no doubt they were major show highlights.
Vince Grant's immaculate Model A Coupe
Mile-deep black paint on Hanspeter's '32 Ford
One car that simply blew us away was the “Docker” Daimler, known as “The Golden Zebra Car”, on display on the marques club stand. This one-off creation, built in 1955 by coachbuilders Hoopers (one of a series of unique Motor Show creations), has all the hallmarks of an American custom with its fabulous coupe styling, frenched front and rear lights, and big, bold whitewall tyres. It doesn’t stop there either, as the car features full, gold-plated bright work (amounting to over £10,000 apparently), plus real Zebra skin seats and ivory trim.
Hoopers coachbuilders were already frenching in lights in 1955 to create this one-off
Daimler creation called "The Golden Zebra"
Another very unusual sight was that of a brand new Bentley, whose owner appeared to have been influenced by rat rod style. We’re not sure whether its satin-black paint job was inspired by stealth considerations or not, but if so, it had quite the reverse effect, as the car attracted a great deal of attention.
Here’s a further pictorial review of the event.
Story & photos: Andy Kirk & Graham Jones
Andy's Instant T was created by Andy Brizio in 1973. It was imported to the UK by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin fame. The rod features trick paintwork by Art Himsl which still looks in great shape 33 years later
Beautiful execution of this 'Cal look' Beetle on the Meguiar's Club Showcase stand
Remember Ray Mumford's airbrushed automotive artwork in the '70s? The Bullitt car and French Connection Mustang were both on display
In addition to cars on display and loads of trade stands, there were practical demonstrations in sheet metal working, such as the creation of this motorcycle fuel tank. Additionally, a metalworking team created new panels for a Mini over the show weekend - boot in the background
New GT40 replica from Race Car Replicas comes complete with aluminium monocoque. Bodywork is GRP (below)
This rather crude looking box section chassis is the basis for the Gordon Keeble sportscar of the 60s which was originally equipped with a Chevy small block V8. The specification was quite advanced for its time with coil sprung suspension at both ends and even four-wheel disc brakes
Paul Stamp's custom '49 Mercury
Ford Model A and B clubs were well represented and this rare 1932 Cabriolet was one of the fine examples on show
Steve Rains's Model T has a certain 70's feel about it
Lovely rims and low profile tyres on this resto-mod '66 Mustang
With chromed spoked wheels and whitewalls this Hemi-powered Daimler SP250 looked very sharp
The Corvette Owners Club display contained a great selection of models including an early split-window 'Vette and a completely restored rolling chassis