Wow, what a weekend, that’s all I can say. There are so many thanks to go out in this post and I will get to them all as the story unfolds. The car show that I am referring to is the biggest in the UK – “Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show” held at the Birmingham NEC 13 – 15th November 2015, hosting some two thousand odd cars as well as traders and motoring clubs. So if you are going to do a car show, jump straight into the deep end, just like I did with restoring the car in the first place. Although the show is a Friday to Sunday the hard work starts early Thursday Morning. Due to logistical nightmare I wouldn’t be able to drive up to Birmingham myself which is about 2 hour drive away from my home. So Adam being the top bloke that he is said “get down here Wednesday night and stop in the camper, then you can go up with the cars”. What he means by camper is the enormous American motor home that is so plush it makes some hotels I have stayed in look like derelict flats. So my good lady wife dropped me down the Mustang Maniac yard packed with everything that I would need. Clothing, food for a midnight Scooby snacks, kindle and my trusty Samsung Galaxy Tab 12.2 Pro. Adam had already got the heating on in the van by the time I arrived and was nice and warm. I read my kindle for a little while and fell asleep in the big comfy bed. Stupid o’clock I heard the dogs barking and few minutes later the familiar bark of a V8 Mustang starting up. The two tiered transporter truck sent by LAR Traffic Services was now being loaded with the Black ’66 GT Fastback. My car fired up and was sitting in the workshop waiting to come out and play. Thanks so much to LAR Traffic Services who transported my car and Ken’s car with no problems at all.
My biggest thanks has to be to Adam at Mustang Maniac who sponsored my trips there and back so I could get to the Show. All the guys at Mustang Maniac for making this dream possible.
The car was driven to the truck and Adam loaded my car onto the transporter and again tied it down to stop it moving. The sun started to come up now and burn some of the mist away and I started to get butterflies in my stomach from excitement.
Everything was loaded into the cars, overnight bag, Show Board, business cards and flyers etc. I climbed in and we set off for the few hours journey. The exhibition cars had to be checked in before mid day on the Thursday, we left a little before eight to give us plenty of time, I was too excited to remember to even have breakfast. The journey was pretty good and we made great time until we got near the NEC motorway turn off, then the traffic started to snarl up. The good thing was we could see the drivers taking pictures of the cars before they even got to the show. I’m not saying the traffic was bad, but…
We arrived at the NEC to the usual carnage at these sort of events where no clear signs about telling us where to go.
We asked a couple of herberts who were directing traffic, they told us to follow the road round. About a mile later of stop start traffic jams and drooling over the cars being unloaded, we eventually found the Pavilion Hall. Now it was our turn to unload. We were given our wrist bands for the “Build Up” day as they call it, cars are moved around and the stands set up for business. Yellow band for Thursday, then the other colour bands were given out by the Club stands where you were exhibiting or showing stands as the case may be. I was now officially an “Exhibitor” for the weekend. I have been to so many of these car shows in the past where I have been envious of the cars on show. I have often wondered what it would be like to be part of the classic car show scene. Now I know; it’s such a buzz to be part of something where everybody there had one thing in common, the love of cars. No animosity towards any car and everybody just looked at all the other cars in appreciation as they went passed you. I have never understood why people only like Ford, or Chevy or Fiat etc. and they refuse to like any other cars, I just don’t get it. I love Mustangs obviously, but I also like so many other makes such as Chevy, Pontiac, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Audi, TVR etc. etc.
The rest of the day was all about getting the cars on the stands to arrange them in their final positions. The fabulous ’66 GT was on the Classic American stand and they made a cracking job of making her look factory fresh.
My car was on the Mustang Owners Club Of Great Britain (MOCGB), position P1-320. Many of the carpets still had the plastic covers over them and all the exhibitors had to wear high vis jackets for health & safety reasons. A lot of the carpets were still being laid and furniture was being built all around the cars. My car was parked on the end just for now next to a very rare Shelby Super Snake. I gave a hand to help set up the stand and put out the bunting, I even bought a polo shirt before the show started.
The rest of the cars for our stand soon turned up, then we were able to position them properly ready for their three-day pampering session.
Thank the MOCGB for making me feel welcome and we had such a good laugh with a very nice bunch of people on the stand this year. The cars were cleaned, and I checked the Show Plates and decided where I was going to put my car’s Show Board.
A big thanks to Lance at Linards Design & Print Solutions for the Show Plates and the Show Board.
We got to work cleaning the cars, but not before we all had a look at each others cars. I didn’t realise just how much time and effort goes into making these cars shine the way they do. I cleaned mine, looked at the others on the stand and cleaned it again! Thursday was over and it was time to go back to the hotels. The performance at the hotel to check in was made worse by one receptionist and bloke asking stupid questions, like “what do press on the phone for reception?”I was like thinking – Go to the room and it will be on the phone man. Once in my room, I got my green wrist band ready and got the clothes out ready for the next day, then went out looking for some food, I was getting hungry now, perhaps that was why I was intolerant of the bloke earlier.
What did my car look like after the cleaning? This was her first day out;
Friday, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Friday. I put on my Green exhibitor band, I knew it was going to be busy, but I wasn’t sure what it would be like from a Club stand point of view. The announcements over the tannoy warned us of half an hour to open with a ten minute count down in between. We were busy cleaning the cars when the announcement that the “show was now open”. The sweat from frantic polishing was starting to run of my head with the pressure and the physical exertion. I’m sure I cleaned the car yesterday though! I swapped my manky old t-shirt for a MOCGB black polo shirt trying to cool down as I stood wondering what was going to happen, what would I say? The public came in after a few minutes and wandered around the stands. I had my first visitors ask me about my car, how long had I had it? What colour is it? I didn’t need to worry, I just stood there and answered their questions. Then more questions from more visitors, it was like that all day. I was asked what was under the hood, so I opened it up and it stayed open virtually all weekend long. The questions never stopped. There were people with cameras taking pictures of the engine, the fender badges, inside and they even wanted to look inside the trunk, so theat stayed open all weekend as well. The crowds got quite large around the MOCGB stand as they had Bullitt, Gone in 60 Seconds, Transformers, Getaway etc car chases all on a loop at the front of the stand on a big LCD television. It was funny to see the crowds watching Steve McQueen in his car chase, when the chase scene was over the crowds will filter away. When it came back on again the crowds were back. It was like watching the tide coming in and going, but only on shorter time scales with people.
I know I have some great people who follow my blog and the first to find me just like they said they would was the fantastic Triumph “Stag Owners Club” ; https://stagownersclub.wordpress.com/ It was fantastic to put their faces to the names and we had a great chat. I made a promise to go and see them a bit later, but before they went they took a photo of the man with a Mustang, so I dutifully posed, the secret was out who the man was now.
I visited their wonderful stand only they were not there to return the favour for a photo session, but like ships in the night we passed messages. The Stag Owners Club web site was even nominated for an award! Well done for that guys.
I knew that the Triumph Stag had an overheating problem when they came out. Funny thing is that it wasn’t anything to do with the design or the engineering, it was the rather rubbish quality control that caused the issues. On a recent Rally the Stag was leading 17 days out of the whole Trans America Challenge 2015, all through the deserts where other cars were melting in the sun (literally), the car never experienced an over heating issue at all. The car suffered a rather unheard of rear diff giving up which was replaced and the car was nursed to the finish line. The car did finish and now it has been proved beyond doubt that the engineering design was not at fault. These cars are amazing, they look great, sound great and are certainly a very desirable collectors car. In fact they would be my number one affordable UK Classic car choice.
I came in the next day to find this placed on my seat: Oops, now how did that happen? Looks like I have only gone and accidentally left the wrist band over it! Sorry, but does that mean the secret is safe still? 😉
Thank you so much guys for the photo, it means a lot to me and it will be up in my garage very soon. Thanks for your time answering what must have been daft questions coming from me.
Another visitor from the blog scene was a Nigel from https://nigelhamlinwright.wordpress.com/ “A Special Builder’s Notes”. He arrived with his good lady and we had a nice chat and found out that the small world we live in is even smaller than I thought. It turns out that we only live a couple of villages apart, so I will be going to visit Nigel soon to have a look at his projects he has on the go. Thanks for coming to see me Nigel, again much appreciated.
Gary W – an ex Ford UK Director, who regularly contributes to Mustang Maniacs own blog with his knowledge and his photo’s was next. Gary came to find me among the sea of people who were around me and my car, I believe my expression was like a rabbit in car headlights. We had an all to brief chat as it was the first time he had seen my completed car, and not just in the workshops. Thank You Gary, I feel a bit bad that I wasn’t able to speak to you longer though.
The Friday’s show drew to an end. I had three offers to buy my car from people who liked what I had done. One guys wanted to take it home that day and offered me some seriously good cash! But my little lady is not for sale. But, this is a big but, me and wife decided that the only time it will ever be parted with is if I could swap it for a genuine Shelby shell to start it all again. The chances of that happening is not very good at all, the car is of a massive sentimental value to me now.
The hotel room has the aircon on full blast and I collapsed on the bed to catch my breath and let my throat rest from all the talking. Was I all Mustanged out? Nope!
Saturday, the alarm woke me at an early time so I could get some breakfast and shower in before the day started. By the time I had got to the entrance I had put on my dark blue wrist band. I walked round to the show hall the long way round so I could look at the other cars early before it got to busy to see them. I didn’t manage to walk away from my car all day on Friday except for a a couple of toilet breaks of a few minutes and came straight back. I took some photo’s of some cars this time and then realised the time. I rushed back to the stand to see the other guys cleaning. I looked at my car and see a small layer of dust from the overnight stay. Out came all the cleaning stuff again and I got to work.
The MOCGB were going to have a special guest appear on their stand at 9am just before the main public came in to the hall; Edd China from the very popular TV show “Wheeler Dealers” was going to be with us. Edd is seen on the right here next to Mike Brewer his co presenter.
Edd came over and was speaking to Chris York from the MOCGB and had his photo taken with all of us at Club stand. The club gave him a cordinated blue MOCGB polo shirt so he didn’t feel left out of course, that we were all wearing that day. Edd sat in a gold Coupe in the Club stand and then came over to sit in mine too posing for some photos, which he seemed to like just as the public started to notice who and where he was.
What a buzz that was, and a genuinely nice guy. I was told by Chris that Saturday and Sunday was a different ball game. I wasn’t sure what he meant but I was about to find out. The Saturday crowd was more family orientated and out to look at some nice cars. It turns out that Friday is for the more hard core motor enthusiast, Petrol Heads or Gear Heads as they are known in different places around the world. Again the questions came thick and fast, people wanting to “Do a project just like that” pointing to mine and the other cars. Lots of questions around the origins of the car, how long did it take, would you do it again etc. One bloke even had a moan at my aerial. My aerial is slightly smaller than the average Mustang aerial for a simple reason. I wanted mine to retract out-of-the-way. This will mean that the aerial will not be damaged by selfish yobs, and the fact that a car cover will not have to have a hole made in it to fit. However as the aerial wasn’t original he took great delight in telling me. I tried to find out what car he had, unfortunately he didn’t answer and walked off. What was that all about? The car is done to how “I” want it, not a “Concours d’Elegance” exhibit that will never be driven. But the rest of the day was great and had many, many photo’s taken of the car. Again the hood was up, the trunk was open and the drivers window down so people could see. I didn’t have time to eat, had a very quick toilet break and it was back to the great public and questions. I now realised that I didn’t need to worry about what to say, I was being asked and I just had to answer. The tannoy announced the show was over and about half hour later the crowds had gone. All that could be heard was the Bullitt car chase for the umpteenth time that day. Then it fell silent. I cleaned my car from finger prints yet again. The yellow microfiber cloth was a permanent extension of my arm and has replaced my hand. The walk back to the hotel took longer than yesterday, perhaps they made the road longer during the day. More offers to buy the car today and I was feeling good mentally. The room invited me in and the bed just screamed “collapse on me”, I definitely heard it. I took time to send some pics of my day to guys at Mustang Maniac and few friends who would be interested. Was I all Mustanged out? Nope!
The photo’s I took that day? No, I don’t have a thing about red cars, it’s just that I have never seen the full house of Ferrari’s like this before. Cobra replicas a plenty, Jaguar E-Types and Aston Martins, and of course the big boys GT40’s, all just incredible cars.
There was a another photo I took specially for a another blog I follow all about his Land Rovers; http://mud4fun.com/ I just thought was quite unusual. Needs must I suppose, it wasn’t the toilet that made me smile, it was the toilet roll holder, attention to detail there then.
Sunday the alarm sounded like a V8 had started up next to my head, I don’t think I moved in the night at all. I put on my light blue wrist band and felt that ominous tickle of a sore throat. I hope my voice would last the day as I walked down to breakfast, I felt a little guilty about grunting to the waitress who had a very polite “Good Morning Sir”. Sorry to the little waitress, but my voice needed to be saved. It was raining again and I was glad that I only had a little way to walk. Walking to the show hall seemed to me that that road had just got a longer over night as well. Once inside the halls I knew the routine now, clean the car, change top and get ready. I was looking forward to the day and I was now confident that I wasn’t going to make myself look stupid in front of anybody. I managed to have few conversations with the other guys on the stand and we had a few great laughs between us during the day. Around lunch time I had two younger girls who came up to me asking about the car for their dad. Apparently he told them to find a Mustang car that they liked. They choose mine, I let them both sit in the car and answered all their quite grown up and mature questions. I spotted their “Press” passes as they told me that they would bring their dad over. I was absolutely fine with that and said “of course”, and thought no more of it.
A little while later another “Celeb” walked over to me and he didn’t need any introductions; Tim Shaw with his two daughters whom I had been speaking to earlier. Tim is from the TV program “Car SOS” and wanted to know all about my car. We had a lengthy chat about parts, restoration and what his next project is going to be for the TV show. I was incredibly excited when he told what the show was going to do soon. So make sure you watch it, I know definitely will be. I know exactly what they are going to be restoring, but I don’t think I can say publicly yet. Anyway another great guy who kindly posed for photos sitting in my car. He attracted a nice crowd around my car before he had a chat with Chris from the Club at the back of the stand.
There was a lot of interest from people and some even took their interest up close and personal. One guy had a ’66 Mustang with large exhaust headers like mine which was causing issues with his steering. He wanted to know how I got round it, once he had seen what I had done he was a happy chap I think.
Around about mid day John from MM turned up on his way back from Yorkshire and helped answer some of the questions with me. Adam turned up a little later in the afternoon to see how things were going. Adam had bought back the LAR truck which we were going to load onto at the end of the show. The final announcement came that signalled the show was closing, the simultaneous sound of hundreds of car horns sounding together made a spectacular finale. Adam was telling me about the drama he had trying to get the truck parked close to the hall, now it was literally miles away in another car park. We decided to help pack the Club regalia away, then when the doors were opened, we would be first out to get to the truck. The plan was floored, as the organisers opened our hall doors everybody else had the same idea, crucially before us, it was wedged as far as the eye could see. One guy said to Adam “You can go the other way you know.” So we turned left when everybody was going right. It turns out after three miles and few police detours we found the truck more by luck and parked up behind the truck.
We got in the truck and headed out back to the yard. We had a great chat about the three days and what had happened. We saw a number of cars going past us from the show, obviously being driven home. A couple of hours later we were back at the yard, the sound that greeted me at the start of all this greeted me again, the dogs. We drove the cars to the workshop and covered them up. Adam’s first on job Monday was to move them about again.
Was I all Mustanged out on Sunday night? Just a little, but I enjoyed every moment of it. The comments from the people who looked at my car made it all worth while. The fact that people said to me that they always a car “exactly like that” made my day. Actually, that’s wrong – it made my THREE days. Honestly it did.
Chris from Classic American Magazine who was taking photo’s of the Club stand and the cars.
All the guys from the Mustang Owners Club of GB.
Samantha from http://www.motorverso.com & Samathamowels.com
Thanks to EVERYBODY who popped by to say hello to me and spend your time with me talking about cars, most of the time my car.
After four years I had made it to a Classic Car Show, it just happened to be the biggest in the UK. I’m looking forward to the next one now. 🙂