London’s Epic Classic Car Show

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The inaugural London Classic Car Show, was recently held at the Excel Centre in the UK’s bustling capital. In true London style it was a hectic and busy display of amazing classic machinery. The show was packed full of innovative features, highlights included a special display focusing on the career of legendary Formula 1 designer Adrian Newey. There were also displays of iconic cars from Le Mans and the Motor Sport Hall of Fame, while Top Gear’s James May chose his list of cars that changed the world.

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One of our favourites on show was zesty and fresh Stratos, truly spectacular in the flesh.

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The Lancia Stratos famously won the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

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For racing, the engine was tuned up to 202 kW for the 12v version, 235 kW for the later 24v version and even to 412 kW with a turbo. However, turbocharged versions were only allowed to compete in Group 5 and were never as reliable as their naturally aspirated counterparts.

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In a similar light lime hue, this Muira was impressive, in every sense of the word.

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It sounded pretty mean too.

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Seeing the cars in motion was the idea behind the main spectacle of the show; The Grand Avenue. Running the entire length of the hall, The Grand Avenue brought the show to life a selection of the most desirable classics from pioneering veterans to sixties supercars were paraded. This Lancia Delta S4 Stradale impressed us.

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The Ferrari’s also impressed us. We don’t recall a previous event where you could count Daytona’s. (One.)

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(Two.) Making its debut in 1968, the Daytona was powered by Ferrari’s big 4.4 litre V12 with a healthy output of just over 350 hp. At the time of production, it was the fastest car available.

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(Three.) Although over 1400 Daytona’s were built, less than ten percent were Spyders, making them both rare and desirable.

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The Ferrari 250 GT/L or ‘Lusso’ is the last evolution of the famed Ferrari 250 Berlinetta line of vehicles; one of the most beautiful cars ever made. The car was initially revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October 1962, the last vehicle to carry the iconic “250” name, carrying design and performance features from legendary cars such as the GTO and SWB. This vehicle is number 329 of 350 built.

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This stunning Giallo coloured 275 GTS was part of a range of 3.3 L Colombo V12 two seaters produced from 1964-1968. The 275 introduced Ferrari to the transaxle, where the transmission and rear axle are integrated. Only 200 cars of this type were built.

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Designed for export to North America, the 1957 250 GT California Spyder was Scaglietti’s interpretation of an open-top 250 GT. Aluminium was used in opening panels. The engine was capable of 177kw, a total of fifty LWBs were made before the SWB version superseded them in 1960.

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Top Gear star James May revealed 13 cars that he believes influenced the car as we know it today. The Car that changed the world interestingly, wasn’t a Beetle or a Mini, a Rolls-Royce or even a Ford Model T. It was, a model toy, the famous Corgi model of the James Bond Aston Martin.

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One of our highlights in the James May feature was this original and immaculate Honda Civic.

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This 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Series 1 Ventoux was all class.

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It has an extensive French history. Most interestingly, a former owner A Prost of Roanne, living near Lyon is a relative of F1 driver Alain Prost.

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That rear view is the epitome of elegance.

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1952 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Pininfarina is a rare car.

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We also can’t say we have seen at Bentley Continental variant, quite like this one.

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1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, has an interesting history being owned by a member of the Italian Embassy in London and later Missouri in America. It was also previously owned by playboy and amateur racer Tommy Lee. Later it was fitted with a Mercury V8 and raced. A full restoration back to original specification has ensured this Alfa is in top condition.

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Fittingly, Adrian Newey, the all-time most successful designer in Formula 1 (with no fewer than 10 world titles to his name) was honoured with a special display.

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Examples of his winning F1 designs as well as an array of cars that have played a significant part in his professional and private lives were put out on show. This was the F1 car that started it all. The Leyton House March 881. The March 881 was a Formula One racing car designed by Adrian and raced by March Racing Team in the 1988 season by Italian Ivan Capelli and the debuting Maurício Gugelmin from Brazil. The car’s best result was a second place driven by Capelli at the 1988 Portuguese Grand Prix.

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This is the William FW 14B driven by Nigel Mansell. This car was much needed for Williams, as the 1989 and 1990 seasons had proven competitive for Williams, but they had underachieved in their own and Renault’s eyes. After designing a series of aerodynamically efficient and effective cars for March on a limited budget, with Williams’ greater resources and money he was able to fully develop his ideas into the 14B. The design alone tempted Nigel Mansell to postpone his retirement plans and rejoin Williams from Ferrari. The FW14 won a total of 17 grands prix, 21 pole positions and 289 points. Given that current F1 rules ban many of the technologies used by the FW14B, these are considered among the most technologically advanced racing cars ever raced in Formula One.

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This is the 1998 McLaren MP4/13 which was dominant right from this start of the season. Drivers Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard outclassed the competition by leaving every competitor at least a lap behind. Adrian Newey’s aerodynamic design was by far the most efficient one and Mercedes produced the most powerful engine of the season.

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Coulthard spoke of the MP4/13 later on, saying the car was fast but it understeered through slow corners; this was due to Newey’s design that maximized the car’s aerodynamic grip over its mechanical grip.

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Adrian’s recent success with Red Bull is well documented, this is the RB5.

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The exhibition included Adrian’s first car, a Mini and his first car project a Lotus Elan.

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Personal cars on show, including Adrian’s McLaren F1.

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His racing F430 Ferrari, which he campaigned at Le Man in 2007.

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His GT40.

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His SS100 Jaguar.

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This is the March 84G. With is innovative ground effect aerodynamics, the car is known for its radical styling and huge front air intakes that channelled air into underbody Venturi channels. In 1983, aged only 25, Adrian’s team took the 83G to Dayton 24 hours, where it finished second later. A year later and the redesigned 84G, won two IMSA GT championships.

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One of the best liveries on this 1987 John Player Sons F1 car.

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The relatively unsuccessful Lotus 101 Camel Judd from 1989. The 101 was to be a rushed design built within weeks and to a series of constraints.

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The formidable 1976 Mclaren Ford Cosworth M23 driven to victory by James Hunt.

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The M23 model was responsible for 16 Grands Prix, two drivers’ and one constructors’ world championships in its lifetime.

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This is the Low Drag GT version of the Eagle, based on the E-type Lightweight.

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Performance from the Eagle comes from an all-aluminium 4.7 litre XK engine with sequential fuel injection system.

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Another great highlight of the show was the display of Le Mans cars. Shattered at not being able to buy Ferrari, then the dominant marque at the Le Mans 24 hour, Henry Ford decided to build a car to beat the Prancing horses.

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That car was the Ford GT40 which, after a false start, went on to claim wins in 1966, ’67, ’68 and ’69, with the last two of those wins claimed by the same GT40 (chassis number 1075) wearing the famous light blue and orange colours of Gulf.

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This is the 1969 Works team Ferrari 512S. It won at Sebring 12 hrs, finished on the podium at the 24 hours of Daytona.

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It was used in the filming of “Le Mans staring Steve McQueen, where it was damaged by fire. In 1978 Nick Mason of Pink Floyd carried out a major restoration of the car.

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This car is the first Porsche 956 ever made. (chassis 001) This machine started the golden period for Porsche in 1980’s endurance racing. Debuting at the 1982 Le Mans 24hr, it was driven to victory by Derek Bell and Jacki Ickx, ahead of two other Rothman’s 956’s. All 3 podium places were filled according to their starting numbers.

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The clean sweep continued. The 956 went on to utterly dominate at Le Mans, winning four years in a row from 1982-1985. Amazing, considering the cars rushed development process. It was the first aluminium monocoque chassis ever built by Porsche and likewise fitted with the first dual clutch gearbox. Its Type-935 derived 2.65 litre turbocharged Flat-6, producing approximately 635 hp. The 956 remains the ultimate game changer.

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And this was the car that squashed the Porsche’s dominance. The Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-9LM was the car that final put an end to the Porsche dominance of seven consecutive victories at Le Mans. With its innovative design and fierce 7 litre V12, it was crafted by F1 wizard Tony Southgate and screwed together by TWR. In the 1988 Le Mans, the swift cat took on the Porsche 962C of Bell, Ludwig and Stuck in an very tight contest.

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In the hands of Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace the Jaguar crossed the finish line 2 minutes and 36 seconds ahead of the Porsche. The result was Jaguar’s first Le Mans victory in over 30 years and the beginning of a Jaguar renaissance in endurance racing.

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This is the BMW-powered McLaren F1 that, 20 years ago in 1995, became the last road legal car to win the great race. The car on show is the ‘Harrods’ car – sponsored by the famous London store – that finished third in ’95, driven by Andy Wallace and father and son Derek and Justin Bell.

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Return of the British Beast. After laying dormant for 71 years, Bentley returned to Le Man in 2001 with the EXP Speed 8. Following successful entries in the 2001 and 2002 24 hour race, Team Bentley revised the output of its Twin Turbo 3.6 V8 developing 600hp, increasing the output to 4 litres, This 2003 car was simply called Speed 8. The result of revised bodywork, a new chassis and the much-improved mechanicals was a brilliant first and second place at the 2003 LeMan 24 hour. This is the victorious car from 2003, driven by Tom Kristensen, Guy Smith and Rinaldo Capello.

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The Motorsport Hall of Fame, assembled some of the greatest racing cars of all time. The Ferrari 500 from 1952 was designed according to Formula two rules, and was virtually unbeatable in the hands of Ascari in 1952 and 1953. It was an innovative, simple and crucially light-weight with its four-cylinder 2-litre engine with rear transaxle.

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This is none other than Ayrton Senna’s Lotus 97T from 1985. Securing the newcomber Senna was a coup for Lotus, and the 97T with its gorgeous JPS suited his flair. With 900 turbo horsepower on tap, Senna was able to achieve seven poles and two wins with this brilliant machine. It was this car, that took his first victory in Portugal in 1985.

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Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1952 BRM V16: also driven by Sir Stirling Moss.

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Sir Stirling Moss’ 1957 Vanwall: Moss came 2nd in this car in the 1957 F1 Championship.

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Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3 Monoposto. One of the 1934 specification cars, chassis 50003 was delivered new to Scuderia Ferrari. As with most other P3s, the details of this chassis’ early racing history are unknown. But it is known that Tazio Nuvolari was a driver.

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Michael Schumacher’s 1993 Benetton B193 – designed by Ross Brawn, Schumacher regularly outqualified Senna in this car.

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The is a recreation of a 1955 Lancia D50A. Designed by Vittorio Jano, it had many innovative features, such as the use of the engine as a stressed chassis member, the off-centre positioning of the engine to allow a lower overall height, and pannier fuel cells for better weight distribution and aerodynamics. Only six of the cars were built.

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The D50 made its race debut toward the end of the 1954 Formula One season in the hands of two-time and reigning World Champion, Ascari. In its maiden event Ascari took both pole position in qualifying and fastest race lap. Following Ascari’s death, and in debt, the Lancia family sold their controlling share in the Lancia company, and the assets of Scuderia Lancia were given to Ferrari.

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Ferrari continued to develop the car, and the car was rebadged as the Lancia-Ferrari D50 and later simply the Ferrari D50. Fangio won the 1956 World Championship of Drivers with this car modified by Ferrari.

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During their competition lifespan D50s were entered into 14 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, winning five.

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A winning instrument. This is the Williams FW15C chassis #02 driven by Damon Hill in 14 of the 16 races in the 1993 F1 season. It was victorious three times (including Damon Hill first victory), four podiums and two poles. Powered by a Renault V10 and a product of the mastermind Adrian Newey, the FW15C owned the 1993 season, with a total of ten wins, fifteen poles and ten fastest laps.

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1981 Williams FW07C, driven by Carlon Reutemann to 2 wins, 2 seconds and a pole in the 1981 season, winning Williams the Constructors Championship.

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This is the 1979 McLaren M29 – 4 first raced during the 1979 formula one season. Finished in the iconic Marlboro-McLaren livery, the M29 was the first F1 car driven by Alain Prost, who scored World Championship points in his first 2 races in 1980. Powered by a Ford Cosworth DFV engine, the benchmark engine in F1 in the early eighties.

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Thank you for viewing our coverage of the first London Classic Car Show.

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Stay tuned, there’s lots more on the way from Driven Threads.

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