2019 London Classic Car Show

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Our highlights of the classic car extravaganza at the Excel Centre

By Shahzad Sheikh

Check out video coverage of the event and a full gallery of images!

This cartoony Bentley two-seat open wheel road-racer had me stopped dead in my tracks. It was spectacular and extraordinary.

It’s dubbed a 1948 Bentley MkVI ‘Gibbs Special’. In fact the chassis is from a 1948 Bentley, but the power comes from a 1997 Bentley Cosworth 6.75-litre V8 development engine. This one-off was hand built by Paul Gibbs of Wisbech Engineering between 2003-2006. The body was formed using a lathe and an English wheel.

It has a TurboHydromatic 400 automatic transmission modified with racing internals and manual shifting. With 525bhp and 670lb ft of torque, and weighing 1290kg it’ll reach 62mph in 4.5seconds and reach 170mph. It’s actually road registered and was offered for sale by Horsepower Hanger of Lincolnshire.

Celebrating 50 years of the iconic car movie, The Italian Job, the Octane magazine stand feature original and replica vehicles from the movie, including the Bullion Van and the bus featured at the end of the movie.

The Aston Martin and the Jaguar E-Type were said to be the actual cars from the movie. Both cars appeared to have been destroyed during filming, but in fact a Lancia made up to look like the Aston was flung down the mountain and the E-Type was actually repaired later.

One of the best features of the show was the Grand Avenue – a road recreation featuring parades of cars at regular intervals during the four-day show. In addition to featuring parades of Minis (celebrating 60 years) and Citroens (marking 100 years) it featured everything from true exotica like the legendary Ferrari F40, to cult heroes like the Nissan Sunny GTI-R.

Additionally there were some fascinating oddballs also rolling down the avenue including a Thunderbirds 2-themed creation based off a Toyota Previa and one of the actual cars used in the 60s TV show UFO. Based on a Mini Moke it has been fully restored and is road-registered.

All of these amazing machines could be seen in a static display in the paddocks area. Meanwhile over at the other end of the hall, Coys were auctioning off around 100 cars in two days.

These included a 1986 Peugeot 205 1.9 GTI – the earliest right hand drive car in existence. A 1987 custom Ford Capri built for the Goblin Works Garage TV show featuring a Coyote 5.0 Mustang V8. A Lamborghini Urraco, Jalpa and Diablo. A load of Minis, Ferrari and Porsches, plus a Carrera GT, a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 and a 1959 Maserati Tipo 60/61 Birdcage.

The only disappointment of the show for me personally was that despite the fact there was a Lotus Eclat being rebuilt, and a Citroen 2CV ‘Bond Car’ depicting the vehicle used in For Your Eyes Only, which also featured at first a white Lotus Esprit Turbo and later the Copper-coloured Esprit, not a single example of my favourite car, the Esprit itself, was to be seen anywhere in the show. Boohoo!

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