2018 is proving to be a vintage year for petrolheads seeking events to attend and car shows to go to. There’s something to do every single month, from the national headline-grabbers to regional must-sees that even those living miles away should try not to miss.
We’ve thus rounded up a variety of events for 2018, from local classic car shows to unmissable motorsport spectaculars. You’ve spent enough time prepping and waxing: now join us in planning your year of cars.
We start with the ones you still have the chance to attend. Then, further down, there are the ones you’ve missed, but which might still inspire you for 2019…
To describe SEMA as simply a modified car show is doing it an injustice. It’s massive – taking over the Las Vegas Convention Centre with 2,400 companies all obsessed with tuning cars. You’ll find all kinds of modified cars there – from the classy to the downright outrageous. Even if you can’t stretch to a trip to Vegas for a show alone, it’s worth keeping an eye on media coverage of the show in autumn.
The NEC Classic Motor Show is always a brilliant way to end the year. The show takes over five halls and features classic car clubs, exhibitors selling everything from rare parts to old magazines, and even an auction. Book in advance to save money on tickets.
These aree all so good, we’d advise booking early for next year…
If you live close to London and are stuck for something to do of an evening, there’s something on at the Ace Cafe most nights. We’ve included the Ford Enthusiasts meet on 6 January because it’s for charity, it’s on a Saturday and who doesn’t love fast Fords?
Motorsport your thing? If so, get down to Birmingham’s NEC for Autosport International. Celebrating its 28th anniversary in 2018, the annual event will cover all aspects of motorsport from grassroots karting right up to Formula One.
If classic cars are more your cup of tea, you don’t have to wait long until the London Classic Car Show, held at Excel in February. For 2018, the central Grand Avenue will focus on ‘specials’, while a ‘getaway cars’ feature will pay homage to the likes of the Audi Quattro.
Historic motorsport fans need only to wait until February for the annual Race Retro event, held at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. Highlights include an auction of historic cars, interviews with legendary racing drivers and, of course, a live rally stage.
The Geneva Motor Show is one of the biggest motoring events on the calendar – we attend every year to bring you the latest concept and production cars on display in Switzerland’s second biggest city. But you don’t need to be a journalist to attend the Geneva Motor Show: it opens its doors to the public from 8 March, allowing you to get up close with the latest cars. It makes for a fantastic road-trip.
From Geneva to… Telford. Ultimate Dubs is the UK’s largest indoor VW Group event, catering for modified Volkswagens, Audis, Seats and Skodas. If slammed VW Golfs and Audi TTs with more attitude than a bored teenager are your thing, Ultimate Dubs is the ultimate place to be in March.
The exclusive Goodwood Members’ Meeting is a weekend of motor racing, enjoyed only by members or a small number of lucky ticket holders. By keeping attendance down, spectators can enjoy motorsport with limited crowds. Alternatively, watch it unfold online.
The five-day-long Techno Classica show in Essen, Germany, is a must for British classic car fans who’ve outgrown our own shows. It attracts nearly 200,000 visitors from around the world.
Looking for an excuse to travel further afield? Stuttgart hosts Retro Classics, one of the biggest classic motor shows in the world. There’s something for everyone, say the organisers, from exotic Maseratis to motorbikes, and even a gathering of historic agricultural machines.
The Practical Classics Restoration and Classic Car Show is a relatively new addition to the calendar, but 21,000 enthusiasts are expected to head to the NEC for the event in 2018. There will be more than 1,000 cars on display – from restored classics to neglected barn finds. Adult tickets start at £18 in advance.
The best classic events can involve little more than arranging a gathering of enthusiasts (and their motors), giving them coffee and letting them chat cars. Hire firm Great Escape Cars lets you do just that – and donates £1 to charity for every classic car that turns up. They’re held once a month between March and October, with the first on 25 March.
Where else can you see names such as Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato hammering souped-up road cars on tracks around the UK? Head to Donington in March for a pre-season preview of the 2018 British Touring Car Championship.
If your idea of a car show is a village green full of MGBs and, at a push, a beer tent, The Fast Show at Santa Pod probably isn’t for you. It involves an open ‘run what ya brung’ drag strip sessions, a nightclub in the evening and even an on-site lap dance club. Yup, in 2018.
The Fast Show this is not. Top Marques is held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, and allows visitors to get up close to the world’s hottest supercars. Demonstrations take place on the iconic F1 racetrack and, if you’re a serious supercar buyer, you might even be able to take some test-drives.
Drive It Day is a nationwide thing, introduced by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) to encourage classic car owners to drive their cars. It’s held in spring every year – giving enthusiasts the perfect opportunity to get their cars on the road after winter. Events are held all over the country, including at Beaulieu, Brooklands and Gaydon.
It seems like the first Bank Holiday weekend of May is the one for car enthusiasts to look forward to in 2018. Classic car racing fans in the east of England are catered for by the Donington Historic Festival – and we don’t mean Download. Advance tickets cost £21.
In May, Brooklands hosts Auto Italia’s fabulous Italian Car Day. Visitors in Italian cars – whether it’s a Fiat or a Ferrari – get to park in a special area, while fans can enjoy track demonstrations.
Meanwhile, over at Silverstone, Japanese car nuts can enjoy the enormous Japfest event. Watch drifting demos, take part in club line-ups and even get out on track. There’s even a show and shine for those who like to keep their motors in mint condition. Can’t make it? There’s another Japfest event at Donington in June.
And now for something a bit different. For one weekend, the East of England showground becomes the country’s biggest truck park – with more than 2,000 lorries heading along the A1 to take part in Truckfest. You don’t have to be a trucker to attend, with adult visitor tickets starting at £17.50. If trucks are your thing, there are a number of Truckfest events around the country throughout the year.
If you like your cars to be of the DIY variety, the National Kit Car Show at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire is a must. From have-a-go opportunities to live music and hundreds of trade stands, there’s plenty for the casual fan as well as the serious kit car enthusiast.
If you’re a VW enthusiast and want to travel a little further afield, the Worthersee Volkswagen festival attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year. There’s a manufacturer-backed element – VW revealed its Up GTI there last year – but the whole town is taken over by retro and modified Vee-dubs.
Why not combine a trip to Worthersee with a visit to the infamous Nurburgring for its annual 24-hour race? More than 200 cars take part in the event on the 15.5-mile Nordschleife circuit, making it a mesmerising spectacle.
The original Mille Miglia race took place between 1927 and 1957, but has been brought back since 1977. The thousand-mile event crosses Italy and is only open to cars made before 1957 that participated in the original race. While most of us aren’t lucky enough to own such a car, it’s worth a trip to see the spectacle of such exotic motors being put through the challenge.
After a number of years without a motor show in the UK, the London Motor Show returned in 2016, while 2017 saw a record-breaking 25,000 spectators visit the event. With a new venue at the Excel, organisers are promising a show two-and-a-half times bigger than previous years.
Silverstone Speedmachine brings together the British round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship with a packed array of attractions including motorsport, music, food and more. Check out our full event preview to see why you need to be at Silverstone this weekend. Even better: on-the-gate tickets for Saturday and Sunday cost from £70.
You can imagine the conversation that led to the inaugural Coventry Motofest taking place in 2014. A group of petrolheads got together and decided it’d be fun, for one weekend a year, to take over the city of Coventry with motoring-related activities. Could they show off the city’s motoring heritage, display classic cars in the centre and even hold demonstrations on the ring road?
Turns out, yes they could. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Think of MG enthusiasts and you might picture a small gathering of classic MGBs at a local car show, but MG Live is a much bigger event than you’d expect. Held at Silverstone, the two-day motoring festival is dubbed ‘the world’s largest MG event’, celebrating all that’s great about the brand: from historic racing to displays of the latest models.
Classic Fords, run what ya brung and some no-doubt top class entertainment (DJ Pied Piper himself turned up last year), the Classic Ford Show at Santa Pod in June really has it all. Well, if you like old Fords, drag racing and tasteless garage music.
Want to see every electric and electrified car currently on sale in Britain all in one place? Curated at a show created by former Red Dwarf star, Scrapheap Challenge presenter and YouTube EV evangelist Robert Llewellyn? Then head over to Silverstone on June 9th and 10th for the first-ever Fully Charged Live show. Who knows, it could even convince you that an electric car really could be your next car.
The Isle of Man TT is a must-visit event for bike fans. It’s been taking place every year since 1907, with star racers such as Guy Martin taking to public roads to test their limits. It’s a thrilling event and well worth the cost of a ferry.
Even if you’re not a big motorsport fan, no one can fail to get caught up in the atmosphere at Le Mans during its annual 24-hour race. Enjoy a ride on the ferris wheel, watch cars hit 200mph on the Mulsanne Straight in the early hours of the morning and find out exactly what a ‘beer mountain’ is.
Motoring Research is at the Le Mans 24 Hours this year, so keep coming back through the weekend for more news and insights from the show. Indeed, Ferrari’s already made sure it’s a memorable event, by revealing the surprise new 488 Pista Piloti Ferrari there – and it’s no surprise that BMW will be revealing the all-new iteration of its classic 8 Series too…
With more than 3,000 classic cars in attendance, the annual Bromley Pageant of Motoring claims to be the world’s largest one-day classic car show. Cars are grouped into special one-make parking areas, while the show often attracts special guests in the form of ex-Top Gear presenters.
The chances of seeing an Austin Allegro or Leyland Sherpa on the roads today are slim, but if your boat is floated by these unloved classics, the BMC and Leyland show is the place to be. It’s held at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon and is open to all British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Rover Group vehicles.
The Peugeot Sport Club’s Peugeot Festival, formerly known as Pugfest, has been held at the historic Prescott Hillclimb since 2002. Whether you’re a fan of the legendary 205 GTI or slammed 306s are more your bag, the Peugeot Festival is a must-visit for Pug fans. Tickets start at £12 for non-members, and visitors can drive their car up the hill for just £7 (as long as it’s a Peugeot).
London car enthusiasts are well catered for in 2018. Grand Auto, a new event held at Olympia by the same company behind the London Classic Car Show, is dedicated to “luxury, prestige, performance and style,” explains its website. Said website makes some big promises, featuring photos of a Bugatti Veyron, a classic Ferrari F40 and various Aston Martins. Watch this space…
Like Le Mans, you don’t need to be a huge motorsport fan to be caught up in the atmosphere of the F1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Tickets are selling out, so book soon if you want to avoid massively inflated prices.
How would you like to take a passenger ride in a supercar on Top Gear’s test track and to raise money for charity at the same time? That’s precisely what The Supercar Event at Dunsfold offers, with owners giving up their time and petrol for nothing. Book ahead for £30 to be guaranteed a ride.
In 1993, Lord March hosted a hillclimb in the grounds of Goodwood House in Sussex and created the Festival of Speed. Back then, 25,000 spectators attended – today attendance is capped at 150,000. It’s a brilliant opportunity to see historic race cars driving up the infamous hill climb and the recent addition of the Moving Motor Show even allows visitors to get behind the wheel. In 2018, the Festival of Speed will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special ‘silver jubilee’ theme.
Disappointed to have missed out on the Grand Prix? Or just prefer older cars? Don’t miss Silverstone Classic, held in July. It’s more than just classic motor racing: there’s live music, classic car line-ups and even a special retro run on the roads around Silverstone.
It’s the biggest week-day classic car show, with more than 1,000 classics heading to the Hertfordshire town of Harpenden for its annual Classics on the Common event. Starting around lunchtime and running throughout the afternoon and into the evening, the event combines a great atmosphere with an eclectic mix of old and new cars.
Worcestershire’s Shelsley Walsh, the world’s oldest motorsport venue, hosts one of the West of England’s “flagship social events” – Classic Nostalgia. The focus is on cars built pre-1980 but there are special showcases each year: for 2018, it’s F1 through the ages, which means an amazing display of F1 racers including Nigel Mansell’s Williams-Renault FW14B!
CarFest was the mad idea of Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans. He may not have succeeded at Top Gear, but his charity event has been a runaway success since its launch in 2012. Millions of pounds have been raised for Children in Need, with tens of thousands of fans heading to CarFest North’s venue at Bolesworth Castle in Cheshire each year.
For those of us in the south, there’s a second CarFest event held at Laverstoke Park Farm near Basingstoke, Hampshire. Highlights include action on the hillclimb, as well as live music and even cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs.
Salon Privé describes itself as “the UK’s most exclusive automotive garden party”. If rare and exotic Ferraris are your thing, it’s the place to be. Tickets start at £195 plus VAT. No, that’s not a typo.
If a giant car boot sale full of automotive paraphernalia is your idea of a good day out, head to Beaulieu for its world-famous autojumble. More than 2,000 stalls will be selling every car-related item you could possibly imagine, and there’ll even be around 200 vehicles offered by private sellers.
Step back in time at the Goodwood Revival. Visitors are encouraged to dress in period clothing (in fact, you’ll stand out if you don’t), while historic race cars recreate the golden era of 50s and 60s motorsport. It’s a ‘can’t miss’ event.
Want to see a motorcycle possibly set a new world record top speed? Then you need to be at the Straightliners event at Elvington Airfield in North Yorkshire this weekend. Pro rider Zef Eisenberg will take to his 350hp supercharged Suzuki Hayabusa and try for a top speed greater than 217mph – watched by adjudicators from official body FIM. Astonishingly, he’s apparently already hit almost 225mph in testing, so is confident…
The Manchester Classic Car Show lives somewhat in the shadow of its Brummy cousin, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re a classic car nut. From a wide array of classic car clubs to a concours event and even a live rally stage, there’s plenty to keep the family entertained.
Once a year, Peterborough plays host to the Land Rover Owner International Show. Whether you drive a tricked-up Disco or a rare Series One, there’s plenty see for every Land Rover enthusiast. Visitors will even be able to take part in a little light off-roading at the nearby Tixover quarry.
The Frankfurt and Paris motor shows alternate every year, with 2018 being the turn of Paris to host the world’s car manufacturers in October. More than a million visitors will attend the event, with a wide range of carmakers revealing their new models at Paris.
Wales hosts a round of the FIA World Rally Championship every October – with Rally GB coming three weeks earlier than usual in 2018. While special stages such as Cholmondeley Castle are a good starting point, we suggest being more adventurous and travelling deep into Wales to get closer to the action without the crowds.
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