Its that time of year once again, dark damp January days herald the return of Autosport International. This time the show played out across 1 million square foot of the NEC. Come 9 am and the queues started to build, atmosphere and expectation hung in the air. The ribbon was cut and everyone poured in, like ants fleeing in every direction. The first thing that caught our eye was the box fresh Bentley Continental GT3 race car, having missed out seeing this at Goodwood last year it was great to finally be up close and personal.
It looks huge, widened arches making it appear even more menacing than its road going brethren. I cant wait to see this snarling in anger on the track! A number of manufacturers launched cars at this years Autosport, one of them being Zenos. They launched the stunning looking E10, an open top track focussed car with a 2 litre lump producing 200 BHP and a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. All that for the princely sum of £24,995, bargain! We can’t wait to see more! As we made our way through the vast automotive expanse we also found the Caterham AeroSevern Concept, this was the first time seeing it in the flesh. The pictures really do it justice, fingers crossed Caterham make this at an affordable price point. Moving to the live show arena the stands were crammed, not a space in sight! Some old favourites made a welcome appearance, the UKFMX guys were awesome as ever, and the Japspeed Drift team put on a seamlessly sideways sliding performance.
There were one or two random sections though, one was Terry Grant who came out doughnutted his trick car and left it spinning whilst he ran to the audience to get someones phone…after a few more circles he gave it back and then exited stage right…a bit bizarre and unnecessary! Apart from that the racing action was fast and frantic, throwing you series after series you had never heard of – let alone seen racing. It was a superb eye opener to the world of grassroots motorsport, undoubtedly capturing peoples imaginations, in turn making them want a piece of the petrol soaked pie. Back out into the main halls we stumbled upon the Gran Turismo 6 Red Bull X2014, a fictional F1 car from the future. This full size mock up looked incredible, it makes you wonder why the FIA dont field a Garage 56 type entry to see just what teams could do with no stringent guidelines! One thing that was very evident wandering the halls of the NEC were the amount of McLaren 12C’s, they littered the place! You almost saw one on every corner, even the Police had one – along with a frugal little BMW i3. Another stand out car of the show was SVM’s Qashqai R, they have taken the chassis of a GT-R cut it clean off and then mated it with a Qashqai +2. From the engine bay it looks a tight fit, and I think those arches need flaring to be totally road legal but it looks insane!
The omission of Coys auctions this year was a rather sad one, its wonderful perusing all those old famous motors. Hopefully it will be back for 2015! Big names were on stage throughout the day and could be caught for interviews, we managed to snag 2 minutes with Gordon Shedden to ask him about his 2014 plans.
Once again Autosport showed that there is plenty to see and do – whether you are in the industry or just a civilian! You can easily spend a whole day there weaving in and out of the stands and still find a far flung corner you somehow missed!