The London Motor Show in its present form may not be the international industry event that it was a decade ago, but having reappeared at Battersea Park in 2016, its growing popularity has seen the event organisers relocate to the much bigger ExCeL centre in east London for 2018.
Still propped up primarily by dealers, car clubs, ‘cottage industry‘ companies and tuners (not to mention a TV show or two), the show embraces local produce and increasingly pushes the ‘GREAT Britain’ tourism campaign.
While an area for all the winning cars in the World Car Awards tried adding a global feel, the largest impression of the main exhibition area was that of “look at all these automotive things Britain makes” – perhaps reflecting some of the “we’ll be fine on our own” attitude being pushed in British politics at the moment.
In any case, while there was a corner or two of the exhibition dedicated to wild automotive caricatures of Americana (scroll through the enormous gallery, if you dare), the local focus created a diverse range of displays; from JCBs to Caterhams, ice cream vans and I-Paces, lawnmowers and Liberty Walk builds, the new TVR and the only Tesla estate in the world (for now, at least)... although, consequently, we were sadly unable to find any quirk-tacular Mitsuoka imports this time.
While last year’s London Motor Show saw the debut of the new MG ZS (née XS), there weren’t any headline debuts at the ExCeL – although many recently revealed cars were accessible to the wider British public for the first time, such as the Lister Thunder (a 666bhp F-Type), the LEVC electric London taxi and the new TVR Griffith (previously only seen at the Goodwood Revival).
As well as static displays, a separate, wide-open hall across the way housed a vast makeshift skid pan, allowing a pack of Mercedes-AMGs (provided by Mercedes-Benz World to promote their Brooklands driving experiences) to deafen everyone buying coffee and browsing the neighbouring corridor of classics, with a wall of white noise created by screaming tyres on previously-shiny concrete. This wasn’t as fun to walk past as it was to be part of...
After they’d finished, under-17s could roam around much more quietly in dual-control cars.
It’s nice to see this show gathering momentum at this pace, with its diversity bringing in a wide age range too. While not yet unmissable for the discerning follower of the automotive industry, it allows the British public to keep up with where the industry currently is (especially locally) – as aspect reinforced by talks and presentations on EVs, AVs and fun bits of car culture.
If you’re in London next May, it’s certainly a good way to kill an afternoon. Not least if you enjoy tyre squeal.