More than 700 classic cars have converged on ExceL as the fifth annual London Classic Car Show gets underway. Highlights include a collection of surviving cars from The Italian Job, a celebration of Citroen’s 100th anniversary and a Coys classic car auction.
We were one of the first through the doors, so let us guide you through some of the classics you can expect to see if you head to the show this weekend.
The Italian Job
To mark the 50th anniversary of The Italian Job, the surviving cars have been reunited with actors that appeared in the comedy caper. Sadly, the iconic red, white and blue Minis have not survived, but that doesn’t stop this scene from being one of the best displays at this year’s London Classic Car Show. The Harrington Legionnaire coach and Austin Cooper S are replicas of the original film stars.
The Italian Job
This Aston Martin DB4 Convertible isn’t a replica. Although it appeared to be tipped off the edge of a cliff in the film, it was actually replaced by a Lancia Flaminia for the famous shot. As such, Charlie Crocker’s Aston was spared and survives to this day. Other cars from the film on display in London include a pair of E-Types and reproductions of the Lamborghini Miura and the bullion van.
It won’t have escaped your notice that Citroen is celebrating a big birthday in 2019. The London Classic Car Show is hosting an impressive display of Citroens old and new, and while the usual suspects are in attendance, it’s good that some of the less fancied models are on display. Back in the day, the BX was a familiar sight on Britain’s roads, but today, the car designed by Marcello Gandini is a rare thing.
The Citroen Mehari dates back to 1968, and although it was based on the Dyane 6, its moulded ABS body delivered a unique look. Amazingly, this fun-loving and practical machine lived on until 1988, by which time it had spawned four-wheel-drive and commercial versions. Note the SM in the background – a demonstration of Citroen’s range and eccentricity in one photo.
The London Classic Car Show is more than just a static event. The Grand Avenue plays host to a series of parades, including 100 years of Bentley and Citroen, 60 years of the Mini and 50 years of the Ford Capri. In 1982, the Citroen 2CV starred in For Your Eyes Only and even appeared in the poster for the Bond film. To mark the occasion, Citroen built 500 special editions, complete with bullet hole transfers.
Reliant Scimitar GT
Arguably less famous than the Grand Touring Estate (GTE), the Reliant Scimitar GT made its debut 55 years ago at the 1964 Earls Court Motor Show. It started life as the Ogle SX250, a car based on the Daimler ‘Dart’ SP250 chassis, before Reliant purchased the rights for the design. Production continued until 1970, by which time Reliant had forged a reputation for building fast and good-looking performance cars.
Is this the best looking Japanese car ever built? From this angle, we reckon it even manages to out-style the Jaguar E-Type. The Toyota 2000GT was launched in Japan in 1967, with production outsourced to Yamaha. Power was sourced from a 2.0-litre straight-six engine used in the Toyota Crown, helping it to reach a top speed of 136mph. Two prototypes were converted into drop-tops for their appearance in You Only Live Twice.
From the outset, the Jaguar XJ220 was designed to hit 220mph and was developed with a 6.2-litre V12 engine and four-wheel-drive in mind. But it wasn’t to be. As history recalls, the XJ220 ended up with a V6 engine from the MG Metro 6R4 and rear-wheel drive, and yet it was able to hit 213mph, making it the fastest car in the world. Even today, seeing one in the metal is an event – the XJ220 is loaded with theatrical drama.
It needs no introduction, does it? Even if the number plate is a huge giveaway. Much like the Jaguar XJ220, for a generation of car enthusiasts, this was the pin-up star of choice, with photos ripped from magazines and stuck on the front of school exercise books. Built to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary, the F40 seems to get even better with age.
Ford Mustang Bullitt
Fifty years after the release of the Bullitt film, Ford launched the Mustang Bullitt. Finished in Dark Highland Green, the Mustang pays homage to the Steve McQueen movie, complete with a 10hp uplift in power, a tweaked chassis and an active exhaust system. It’s the closest you’ll get to being a modern-day Frank Bullitt, although London is an awfully long way from San Francisco.
Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake
The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake entered production in 2018, with a total build run of 99, matching that of the equally stunning Coupe and Volante models. Conceived as a strict two-seater, the Shooting Brake features ‘double-bubble’ surfacing, glass inlays in the roof, a powered tailgate and a tailored luggage set. All too often, the automotive world is guilty of blurring the lines and delivering mixed messages, but this is a quintessential Shooting Brake.
In 2002, the Ferrari Enzo represented the pinnacle of supercar development, feeling every inch the cliched Formula One car for the road. Thanks to its use of composite materials and advanced aerodynamics, the Enzo could hit a top speed of 350km/h (217mph). Stopping power was provided by carbon-ceramic disc brakes – the first time these had been used on a Ferrari road car.
In 1926, John Parry-Thomas piloted ‘Babs’ to a land speed record at Pendine Sands when he hit 171.02mph in the 27,059cc car. He returned a year later after Sir Malcolm Campbell had broken the record in ‘Blue Bird’, but was tragically killed when the car skidded and overturned. ‘Babs’ was buried in the sand and remained there until 1969, when an engineer dug it out and spent 16 years restoring it. Today, it lives at Pendine’s Museum of Speed.
Mini 1275 GT
What a peach. Time has been kind to the Mini Clubman, although the nose designed by Roy Haynes was more than a little controversial. The same is true of the decision to replace the 998cc Cooper with the 1275 GT, although the side decals were perfect for the 1970s. The 1275 GT lived on until 1980, but it never truly won the hearts of Mini purists.
Although the Ford RS200 never fulfilled its potential as a Group B rally car, it’s always a pleasure to see one in the metal. It featured a glass-reinforced plastic body styled by Ghia and a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine developed by Cosworth. Only 158 of the original quota of 200 cars were ever sold, making them an incredibly rare sight.
A classic of the future? With a host of new EVs waiting in the wings, 2019 could be the year of the electric car, and the Jaguar I-Pace promises to be one of the most highly sought-after models. We’ve driven it, and our verdict was: “The Jaguar I-Pace instantly feels like the real deal. With stand-out styling, a beautifully finished interior and a thorough engineering package, it’s a very impressive machine.”
Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth
There’s every chance you could drive away from the London Classic Car Show in a classic of your own. This 1988 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is available for £34,995 and is said to be in ‘incredible condition’. Finance is available for an £8,000 deposit and £340 a month over 10 years, making the final total an eye-watering £49,000. You’ve just got to hope the market hasn’t dropped by 2029…
Renault 5 Turbo 2
We’ve tried very hard, but we can’t find anything to dislike about this 1984 Renault 5 Turbo 2. In fact, it could be our star of the London Classic Car Show. Quentin Willson will be hosting live seminars throughout the show, so you can ask him where the Turbo 2 ranks on his list of ‘smart buys’.
The Italian Job
It’s an iconic view, but we have to report that neither the Minis or the gold bars are real. If you fancy getting a bloomin’ move on and visiting the London Classic Car Show, it’s on from now until 17 February at ExceL London. Standard adult tickets cost £30 on the day, but concessions and advanced tickets are available.