A high speed visit to a lost youth


The London Motor Show is an event with fond memories for me. As I child who was crazy about cars, it was a real treat to travel up to the capital for what was then a massive event at Earl’s Court.

I was massively disappointed when the show moved up to Birmingham in 1978, where it ran until 2004. 

After more than a few fallow years, the show returned to London’s Battersea Park two years ago before moving this year to a new venue and on a bigger scale as the Confused.com London Motor Show. Confused? I hope not.

It was this incarnation of an old favourite that I attended last week at the ExCel in East London. I had no trouble finding the show, simply following my nose and my ears to a hall where cars performing donuts produced the ear-slitting squeal of tyres and the smell of overheating rubber.


I was attending the show at the invitation of JCB – a major supplier in the construction industry but not an obvious exhibitor at a show that was mainly about cars. The firm was sponsoring and exhibiting within the ‘Built In Britain by JCB’ area.

Edd Hood, JCB’s head of sponsorship, explained that the firm’s presence at the show was mainly about brand awareness, not least within an industry whose members might be expected to be interested in cars.

JCB was exhibiting its Dieselmax car (pictured), which still holds the diesel land speed record of 350mph going back to 2006, as well as its Hydradig and 3CX Compact vehicles – the latter done out in the colours of the Williams Martini Formula 1 team. JCB is a sponsor of the team, which provides opportunities for the lucky Mr Hood to visit the odd Grand Prix.

Another fast car at the show was the 201mph Aston Martin Vanquish S Red Arrows ‘Red 10’, which was donated by the firm to the RAF Benevolent Fund, which then raffled it. The winner then allowed the vehicle, the tenth of a limited edition of 10, to be exhibited for a year.

Elsewhere in the main hall the show was not massively different from a very, very large car showroom, albeit with car racing simulators that I felt much too old to try. Another change from my youth, undoubtedly for the better, was the absence of minimally dressed women adorning the cars.


Entering a hall featuring the maintenance side of things, I came across a mixture of a tyre shop and a bar, to be greeted with the question: ‘Would you like a free pint?’ I’m a journalist, it was a Friday afternoon – not to accept even a small one would have been rude, as well as a potential disciplinary offence. A great way to finish off both the week and a high-speed visit.

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