With the absence of an official British Motor Show since 2008, anyone wanting to see the latest new models in the flesh might be tempted to head abroad. But look a little harder and there are events on the calendar that allow the chance to see such cars in action.
The Salon Privé 2011 held at Syon Park in June brought together a stunning collection of the latest high performance and luxury models in the same location as a series of concours events and an RM auction. This year saw the BMW 6 Series Coupe, Maserati Gran Turismo MC Stradale, Lamborghini Aventador and Range Rover Evoque all make their UK debut.
Just a few days later, the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Moving Motor Show saw a record 181,000 motor sport and car enthusiasts, as well as more than 100 star racing drivers and riders attend over a four-day period.
Drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Nigel Mansell, John Surtees and Sir Stirling Moss, making his first public appearance since retirement, all took to the challenging hillclimb in a series of rare and spectacular cars.
The 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-type was marked with a jaw-dropping 28 metre-high sculpture of this most iconic of British sportscars. A large selection of Jaguars also took to the Hill as Goodwood celebrated 60 years since the Coventry marque first victory at Le Mans.
From a vast variety of other Festival of Speed highlights, a few other notable moments included renowned stunt driver Terry Grant setting a new record in a Nissan Juke for driving up the entire 1.16-mile Goodwood hillclimb on two wheels, as well as breath-taking air displays from the Red Arrows and Vulcan bomber, a hugely popular Moving Motor Show, skillful sideways action up at the Forest Rally Stage, and a record number of supercar debuts, including the new Ferrari FF, Lamborghini Aventador and Jaguar XKR-S.
What made both these shows something special above the standard motor show fayre was the ability of the crowds to get close to the action and truly get involved. Any motor show in the future that doesn’t follow this template will struggle to generate such crowd enthusiasm.
By Matt Joy