Car 2011 of the Year
By: Web Editor
Date: Nov 11-13
Place: Birmingham, NEC
Classic American’s Car of the Year Grand Finals (sponsored by Footman James
Insurance) have been taking place for 18 years at the Classic Motor Show at Birmingham’s NEC, yet the quality of the cars still gets better every year…
If you’re interested in old cars, tinkering in your garage or collecting old car ‘tat’, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy a day out at the Classic Car Show which is held in the middle of November at Birmingham’s NEC.
As the UK’s largest indoor car show, it fills up to seven or eight aircraft hangar-sized halls with displays from car clubs and companies associated with the hobby. These include everything from insurance companies (the show is actually sponsored by Footman James Insurance and Meguiars car polish) to businesses offering services such as rechroming, restoration and vintage tyres.
It’s the sheer variety of these different businesses all under one roof that makes for such an interesting and varied day out. After a poster of Steve McQueen? You’ll find one here. Fancy taking your classic on a trans-continental rally to Mongolia? Sign here! Trying to source those funny washers that hold the indicator stalk on to the steering column of your 1924 Studebaker? They’re right here. There’s even an area of the show where for a small donation to charity you can take out a variety of classic cars for a quick spin, while the huge auto jumble area offers all sorts of rare and hard-to-find goodiesn – from hood mascots to antique tin signs, even one stall offering nothing but vintage radios and picnic hampers.
Every automotive taste is catered for and there is usually at least half of one hall given over to American cars, hot rods and all the significant American car clubs on the UK American car scene, including the Mustang Owners’ Club, the Classic Corvette Club UK, the Mopar Muscle Association, the AACUK, the American Auto Club North West, the Pre-’50 AAC, the South Coast American Car Club and The Vintage Hot Rod Association, to name but a few.
The centrepiece of this area for almost two decades has been Classic American’s stand, which features the seven heat-winning finalists of the Footman James Car of the Year competition, selected from the UK’s premier American car events. This year saw a really interesting selection of Detroit’s finest – everything from a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa to a 1941 Cadillac drophead to a 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner. Some were original, some had been restored from total basket cases; however, what they all had in common was that they were all superb show-stopping cars that mesmerised the crowds of visitors on the stand.
As in previous years, the cars were judged by three judges independently (no consulting was allowed) and the sheets tallied up just half an hour before the announcement at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Andy Fairchild, Footman James’ new MD, was on hand to give a short speech and hand over the trophy, champagne and cheque for £500 to the lucky winner Gavin Shaw, who swept to victory with his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. With a build-up day on Thursday and three show days from Friday to Sunday, it was a busy, busy show and the car owners and Classic American staffers alike were exhausted but strangely elated at the end of what had been a fun, friendly and frenetic weekend. See you there in 2012.
Words: Ben Klemenzson, Photography: Christopher Tilley, Steve Havelock & Joe Dick
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