The world-famous Autosport International show is held early in January at Birmingham’s NEC. For the motorsport community, it effectively marks the start of work on a new season’s racing or rallying, with many a team choosing to launch its new car at the show.
This year, as part of the Performance Car Show that runs in parallel, there was an added spectacle – a gathering of no fewer than 11 race-spec Ford Sierra RS500s, marking 30 years since this touring car monster roared onto the scene. Motorsport at its finest…
Ford Sierra RS500
The Sierra RS500 was an evolution special – a tuned-up version of the standard Sierra RS Cosworth that incorporated changes such as a bigger turbo and aero kit to enhance its racing abilities. With huge success: racing versions went on to win 40 races back-to-back.
The RS500 is, today, a real collectible, with pristine road-going versions now commanding over £50,000. And the original racing versions on show at Autosport International? For their owners, virtually priceless – particularly as some of the cars’ original drivers visited the show to be reunited with their old racers.
Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes-AMG F1 car
He came, he saw, he conquered, he retired. 2016 F1 champ Nico Rosberg won’t be driving this car in 2017… Could his replacement be at the NEC this weekend, checking it out?
Jaguar Formula E racer
The future of single-seater motorsport is at Autosport International, too. This zero-emissions Jaguar racer is competing in this year’s Formula E championship for electric cars, as part of the British giant’s plans to fast-track future road-going EV technology.
Nigel Mansell’s Williams F1 car
The famous Williams F1 team is 40 years old in 2017. Autosport International marks the start of a year-long series of events, and a fully-interactive stand featuring classics from the team’s past is a highlight of the show. Here’s one of Nigel Mansell’s old Williams, complete with ‘Red 5’ on the nosecone.
Ford Fiesta WRC
WRC rallying has been overhauled for 2017, and the season promises to be the most exciting and dramatic in years. The cars are faster, and they finally look like rallying thrillers once again. This is Ford’s 2017 Fiesta, run by the British M-Sport team. Looks awesome, no?
Rallying Land Rover Freelander
You don’t need a new car to go rallying, though. Indeed, you don’t need a simple car: why not take your old SUV rallying instead? Certainly, there’s a burgeoning series for Land Rover Freelanders, which proves even the most unlikely of machines can be turned into motorsport crowd-pleasers.
Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R BTCC car
BTCC champs Team Dynamics revealed its new 2017 Honda Civic Type R racer at Autosport International. Last year’s car was orange: this year, it seems black is the new orange…
MG ZR racer
And, once again, you don’t need a six-figure budget to go tin-top saloon car racing. As the sign says, you could do a season in this MG hot hatch for around £6,000. By motorsport standards, that’s very cheap indeed.
YouTube star Shmee150 was showing two of his cars at Autosport International – and the Aston Martin Vantage GT8 is a car he’s only just taken delivery of. Even alongside a McLaren 675LT, it was wowing people. Lucky guy…
Abarth 124 Rally
Hot Fiat tuning division Abarth revealed its 124 Rally motorsport special at Autosport International 2017. Producing up to 300hp, it has a six-speed sequential gearbox, a full roll cage and umpteen other modifications to make it eligible for race series all over the world. It looks superb.
Audi UR Quattro
If the 124 Rally looks great, this classic Audi Quattro looks sensational – still. More than three decades on, the car that turned WRC rallying on its head continues to fascinate. It’s the excitement of cars like this that WRC 2017 is hoping to reignite.
Specialist sports car maker Marlin revealed the production-ready version of the car it first showed here last year: the Avatar Roadster. The Ford Focus ST-powered machine produces 250hp for the promise of stunning performance, and there’s talk of a Focus RS-powered version producing a staggering 350hp. Like the look of this new, track-ready British sports car?
Bentley GT3 racer
Bentley is winning in GT3 racing with the big Continental GT3-R. British GT racing grids may be cowering a little at the sight of it in 2017 – it’s a monster, but a very quick one at that.
Liberty Walk Ferrari 458 Italia
If your low-slung Ferrari supercar isn’t quite low enough for you – or indeed, head-turning enough – you’re in luck. Liberty Walk will graft on this unique bodykit and basically lower the entire body almost onto the ground. If a Liberty Walk 458 is good enough for Justin Bieber, then who are we to argue?
Slammed BMW M3
And if you thought the Ferrari was extreme, check out this low-riding BMW E30 M3. The front wheel rim is virtually touching the bodywork, it’s that low! Luckily, the Airlift kit means you can raise it up again so you can actually drive it on the road…
Racing Smart Fortwo
Proving you can race absolutely anything, here’s a track-ready Smart Fortwo. There’s even a championship for the micro-sized city car racers.
Ford Focus RS v Raleigh Burner
We’re not quite sure of the link here, but we like it all the same. Who else had a Raleigh Burner in the 1980s?
It wasn’t just racers and supercars, either. The Coys Autosport International auction is another annual staple, and the entry list this year is as amazing as always. This achingly beautiful Ferrari Dino 246 GT is about as perfect as can be – as you’d expect, given a £250,000-£280,000 guide price.