January. It means one thing, Autosport International.
Whilst most forms of motorsport kick off in a few months time we get our appetites whet at the NEC, where every form of four wheeled racing descends for 4 days only.
This year was a particular success with both weekend days selling out of tickets by noon, and the crowds sure proved it.
Walking in and the first thing that caught our eye was the Porsche GT4 Clubsport – which was only unveiled at the LA Auto Show in November.
Based on the Cayman GT4 the Clubsport is a track only version. It has the same 3.8 litre flat six producing 380 BHP, however it has a six speed double clutch gearbox fitted, specifically optimised for racing with paddles – naturally. It also features a locking rear differential. The rear suspension is lifted straight out of the GT3 cup car.
You also get a single bucket seat, six point racing harnesses and a weight saving of 40KG over the road going version. This means the GT4 Clubsport tips the scales at 1300KG.
Moving toward the back of the first hall we set eyes upon Ford’s entry into the WEC. The Ford GT.
To be honest it doesnt look much different to the road going version. No huge flared arches here, just some front canards, deep side skirts, a massive rear wing and even bigger diffuser.
Unfortunately there was a hideous metal barrier all around it making it impossible to get any decent images!
2016 will be very interesting seeing how this will perform in its first season. Will it be a Le Mans winner in 3 years time? We shall see.
Next up was the Coys auction, where across the crammed in cars we spotted the GT’s grandfather. A Ford GT40.
Now this wasnt an original GT40, but it was a ‘continuation’ car built in 1980 to original spec. It was purpose built as a race car, and is a completely bespoke one off. Not a kit car, this is as close to the real deal for respectable money as you can get. It’s estimate was a cool £45-60,000. The original Le Mans race winner recently sold for a staggering $11,000,000.
Not 100% original, but it was stunning nonetheless.
Amongst the other motors looking for new home’s was a rather smart unicorn in the form of a silver BMW Z8, estimate £130-160,000. Well, it has only covered 17,000 miles and is one of 5,703.
The other piece of rare metal that piqued our interest was a little red Ferrari Dino. No estimate.
This year the Hot Hatch was being championed by both Autocar and Pistonheads. Not sure why they both decided to vote on the same thing, but anyway.
We were very happy to see that in both camps sat a very pretty red French hatchback. A Clio 182 Trophy. The one in Autocar’s camp must have been Renault’s very own as it was in completely original spec. Original front splitter, original exhaust, and not a mark on it. It must be number 001 out of 500.
At 10 years old it is great to see them being championed, and as a current owner of one I whole heartedly approve.
Amongst the rest of the hot hatches was a stunning Escort Cosworth, a childhood dream car of mine. Next to it stood a Lancia Delta Integrale, whilst across the way was another fast Renault, the Megane R26R – so very cool.
Wandering through the halls you come across rock climbing baja trucks, Mad Max concoctions, brand new GT3 racers, and even Ian Cook from PopBangColour.
Time flew by and before we knew it we had to head to the live show. As always this has an awesome mix of grass roots motorsport and latest machinery on show.
Some of the more random elements included a destruction derby with old saloon’s where no destruction happened and the affable Terry Grant with his ‘stunts’ who now seems to be sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover.
You get the idea!
The queues to get in where pretty long which can’t be helped and after we exited the live show the main halls had filled up considerably. So if you are going on a weekend, it is advised to get there as early as possible and make a quick getaway. 5-6 hours is normally enough to see everything.
Making one quick pass through all the halls we stumbled across the Nissan owners club. Once again they had the stunning Hakosuka Skyline, it is just gorgeous. So much want right there.
But sat behind it was another very rare and special beast. THE ONLY R35 Nissan GT-R Spec V in the UK.
You may have seen that numberplate before on Carwitter and yes, Roger has upgraded to the only Spec V that was imported into the UK.
With no rear seats, carbon ceramic brakes and a uprated exhaust system the Spec V was deemed too specialist for either US or UK Nissan dealerships to be able to look after, so it never graced our shores.
Autosport International is an awesome show for any enthusiast to attend. It mixes latest motorsport machinery with classics, grass roots competition, owners clubs and everything in between.
Ticket entry on the day is £36, this includes the live show but book in advance and you save yourself a whole £1 after the admin fee’s have been applied.