2018 London Motor Show

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It’s been 10 years since I last attended The London Motor Show. In 2008 the show was colossal with most major manufacturers showing off their newest cars; most notably Nissan brought the R35 GTR and Ford brought the Mk7 Fiesta.

The show this year certainly wasn’t as big as I remember the 2008 and 8 show but what it lacked in quantity it certainly made up for in quantity! There was a range of dealerships and manufacturers displaying their cars along with a host of other displays that you might not necessarily be expecting to see.

One particular manufacturer I was particularly pleased to see in attendance is MG. MG was a symbol of the golden age of British sports cars following World War 2 producing hugely successful cars such as the MGB and Midget.

MG sadly didn’t really survive the restructuring of British Leyland in the late 1970s. From 1980 to 2005 they were pretty much relegated to producing rebadged Austin and Rover cars such as the MG Maestro and Metro.  The final hurrah was the F and TF, which were stand alone MG sports cars but there weren’t overly popular and it’s only now that are beginning to become collectable.

With the collapse of Rover, MG were brought by the Nanjing Motor Corporation who have been striving to make MG it’s own stand alone company again! Their MG6 platform has been a huge success as has the little MG3. Now, they are adding two SUVs to the mix; the MG ZS and GS and are hoping to begin production of a sports car in the near future (check out the MG E-Motion it’s awesome!).

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The 6 sadly wasn’t on display but I had a nice opportunity to explore the MG3 and GS.

The MG3 is a small, economical car priced under £10,000 and boasts a five year warranty. It’s an attractive little car and I’m surprised that you don’t see an awful lot of them about.

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Then you step inside and you realise why you don’t see so many of them about…

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I’m going to start with the ergonomics of some of the controls.

The gear shift for instance. It started life as a typical ball but had the sides shaved off to incorporate the MG logo into the two flat faces. It looks amazing but the edges feel awful to the touch especially being made out of such had plastic.

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The steering wheel is also made out of a similarly hard material and is very narrow. To be fair, the same could be said of the steering wheels in my Dad’s MGBGT and Midget but should the need come to change those, you’d be able to without turning airbag lights on and such.

These grip bits on the steering wheel too. They just don’t feel nice!

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Throughout the interior the hard plastic continues. I know for the price you can’t exactly expect to be surrounded by top of the range materials but it does feel very cheap and in places doesn’t fit together particularly well. Excuse the blurry picture, lighting in here wasn’t amazing, but you can clearly see that the joint between the two halves of the steering column trim is pretty prominent. If you run your hand along it it feels rough too which I would have expected that to have been filed flat from factory.

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The stereo, whilst not looking amazing is functional. It has bluetooth connectivity for calls along with USB and auxiliary inputs. Again apologies for the blurry photo.

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The car does have steering wheel controls too. Which I thought was pretty cool for the price.

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One thing I did really like was the way the USB and Aux ports were hidden away inside the dash. There’s a nice little pocket for your phone to sit in too.

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When you aren’t using your phone this door slides down to finish off the dash!

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On the other hand the GS is absolutely lovely inside! We’ll start with the silly things first. They’ve put a thicker steering wheel in it!

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Along with a normal gear lever! Look at that stereo too! It wouldn’t look out of place in a Lamborghini!

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In fact, the whole dashboard has a kind of Lambo/fighter jet/space age feel to it.

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I was quite surprised to find an electronic parking brake in a car with a manual transmission. The GS comes this standard along with a hill assist Anti Roll Program (ARP) for hill starts. I was quite impressed with this considering the GS only starts at £15,000.

The exterior is quite nice too. I’m not a fan of cross-overs but I think this is quite a good looking car. The metallic brown with cream interior certainly suits it.

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Toyota also made a showing with a couple of Auris Hybrid Estates.

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There’s not a huge amount to say about this really. It’s not exactly exciting either inside or out but felt very well put together and I’m sure will be a good car.

I liked the size of the infotainment screen and the blue, glowing engine start/stop button was very futuristic. However the tiny shift lever for the automatic transmission felt a bit odd… I’m sure it’s well made and won’t break but it felt a little delicate and small. I love the design but for me, I’d want it a little bigger.

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David Brown Automotive are an interesting company. They are making cars that are heavily inspired by classic British cars in terms of design but with modern technology.

I’m not 100% convinced by the Mini Remastered yet. I love the principle of a Mini but with modern build quality and technology and I’m sure it’s considerably better than the original BMC product  but for the price I’d rather just buy a really good original Mini

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On the other hand I would happily part with a kidney for the Speedback Silverstone Edition pictured here. The normal Speedback GT is a nice car too and although they are inspired by Aston Martin, they are clearly a very different product!

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Lister are also a British company I love. Much like Morgan they produce a range of classic looking sports cars. You can buy these as complete cars or kits if you so wish.

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Caterhams can also be brought ready to run or as kits. These are massively popular track day cars and there is a really good racing series for them. I’d imagine with their small wheelbase they’d be a lot of fun in hillclimbs and gymkhana too!

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Morgan hand build their bespoke, vintage looking sports car in factory. No kits here I’m afraid!

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A lot of the space was taken up by dealerships. Imperial Cars had 75% of their own room. featuring lots of cars. Me being me made a beeline for the Mercedes of course!

They had a W213 E-Class in this lovely blue.

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I’m sure the OM654 is a good enough engine but diesels aren’t my vibe. I like the idea of the 9 speed automatic gearbox it’s mated to. I’m sure it’s lovely on a run! For the twisty bits you do get paddles on the back of the wheel.

Inside, it’s as nice as you expect an E-Class Mercedes to be. Everything is made out of really nice materials and feels well put together. I like the big double screen in the dashboard rather than conventional gauges and I like the layout of the buttons the way the centre console sort of sweeps down. Everything is super easy to get to.

If I was buying one, I’d have it with a lighter interior. The black just made it feel a little dark and dingy inside.

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The colours of the interior of the 5 Series sitting next to it was more my vibe.

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I like the hexagon shapes manufacturers seem to be using at the moment.

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This gear lever is a bit odd though. I prefer the dial like control that a lot of other manufacturers are using on their auto saloon cars.

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Outside the 5 Series is a smart looking car. It’s not obnoxious either, even in the white it’s very subtle.

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Can we just take a moment to appreciate sensible wheel and tyre profile choices. I bet this rides sublime!

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The 3 Series, especially in this 320D format, is a very popular car with England’s middle management.

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The white with red/orange seats was a cool colour combo. The seats are surprisingly firm. A lot firmer than the bigger 5-Series! Of the two, I would most certainly have the 5 series.

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I’m not at all knowledgeable of the 4 Series. I believe this to be a standard 4 Series coupe with M-Sport parts on it rather than a genuine M-Sport car. It’s a nice interim between the 3 and the 5 however and I think this blue with white interior is a beautiful colour combination.

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The new A-Class is nice. The W176 is sooo much nicer than the W169 and W168. This particular W176 is a manual A180D.

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I liked the (fake I’d imagine) carbon trim and red leather stitching.

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Finally we have the Mercedes V-Class. A lovely 8 seater tow rig for taking your car and your friends to the track!

I love the blue lights in the dash!

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Imperial Cars were sharing their hall with quite the line up of classic cars across numerous stands and stalls. The main line up consisted of:

A Bond Bug! These are such a cool little car from the early 1970s. I definitely want a three wheeler one day!

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Lotus Elan Plus Two. A pretty rare and unusual car.

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MGB. Great car. Enough said.

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A very early Citroen DS from the late 1950s/early 1960s. In my mind, one of the best looking French cars ever built and hugely advanced with it’s hydraulic power steering, brakes and suspension.

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Triumph Stag. V8, rear wheel drive, convertible sports car. I should love them but honestly I think they are quite over-rated. The Triumph V8 was in my mind no where near as good as the Rover/Buick V8 that was about at the time.

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Original BMC Mini. This appears to be quite an early one too. It’s hard not to love these. Amazing motorsport heritage, revolutionary design, cheap to tax and insure, economical, easy to modify, easy to park and to top it off it’s an appreciating asset. Can’t go wrong with a Mini!

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An electric powered Morris Minor. I think we are going to see a lot more classics being converted to electric in the coming years.

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Another stand had a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and an early Lotus:

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The stand next door had a mental Group 5 Capri. The aero on these “Special Production Cars” is just incredible. They look so aggressive!

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Notice how the engine is mounted behind the front axle for a more centralised weight distribution.

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Back in the main hall the biggest stand belonged to another car dealership: H.R. Owen.

H.R. Owen are a prestige dealership based in numerous locations around the UK. They provide a huge range of high end new and used cars. You can find out more about them from their website: H.R. Owen

The car everyone was flocking around all day was the new Bentley Continental. This car carries a colossal twin turbo 6 litre W12 pushing out 700bhp at 6000rpm.

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It’s certainly better looking than the previous generation of GT. I’ve seen it as a race car before but not as a road car. It certainly has presence!

I was quite surprised to see Bentley had fitted a solid brake disc rather than a drilled and slotted unit. For the kind of driving this car will mostly be doing I’d imagine that braking surface area will be more important than heat dissipation. I can’t see this spending too much of it’s life on a track.

The brakes themselves were massive though! I’d imagine it can stop when it needs to.

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The new Aston Martin Vantage. I think I will grow to like this. I’m not sure if I have yet though. I still think I prefer the last generation. The last generation was around forever and a day though so maybe I’m just used to it.

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Ferrari Portofino. I love the history of Ferrari and some of their older cars. I also love the colour of this car, I think it’s well designed, it’s nice inside and I’m sure it drives and sounds fantastic. I just don’t think I could own a modern Ferrari though. Can’t honestly pinpoint why.

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The Black Badge Rolls Royce Dawn. Stunning in the black and bronze. This will make someone very happy one day. Apologies for the dark photo.

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The Lamborghini Urus.  This thing seems to have an identity issue. It has the fighter jet looks and interior of a “proper” Lamborghini but it’s housed on this bulky, heavy, unnecessary crossover platform. I mean, it’s the most Lamborghini a crossover could ever be, but it’s still not good.

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BAC Mono road legal track car. I love these things! I bet they are so so much fun to drive on both the road and the track!

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Then rounding things off for H.R. Owen, we have a classic 911. Much like the Mini it’s hard not to like these. Iconic shape and design, good engine, well engineered, appreciating in value etc. I’d have one!

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Across from H.R. Owen was the World Car Awards stand. This is a car of the year type award that isn’t restricted to region or sub type. If you want to learn more about World Car Awards you can on their website which is here: World Car Awards

The first car I’d like to bring to your attention is the Lexus LC500h Sport Plus.

The LC500h is a hybrid Grand Tourer and is one of the prettiest cars at the show. Seriously. It’s such a good looking car!

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Quite a few sources, including Evo, the hybrid system does take away some of the fun that the conventional version has. Having not driven them, I wouldn’t like to say. I do love that platform though!

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The Jaguar F-Pace is another crossover that actually looks quite good. It’s quite nice inside too although I think the light colours help it. I’d imagine it could look a lot smaller inside if the interior was fully black.

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The Range Rover Velar. I can’t say I’ve liked anything Range Rover have produced since the P38 platform in the late 90s and I’m afraid this is no exception.

For a start it looks incredibly bulbous.

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Then the way that the dash comes out at you in that weird triangle and the way the outer ring of the steering wheel is set closer to the driver than the centre just makes it feel really small and cramped inside.

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The materials used are top notch though and the fit and finish is really good. Everything feels solid. I did like this sort of grey tweed material on the door cards and centre console. Very British!

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Other cars on the stand included the Audi A8. Very luxurious and with the Quattro system good in all weathers! A chap needs to get to his meetings even when it’s snowing!

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The new Polo. I can’t think of a Polo that hasn’t been good. They are all great little cars!

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Further along was a stand with a few unusual cars called Motor Show Events. They were advertising their website (www.motorshowevents.com) but that hasn’t been updated since 2017.

They had some cool stuff their though! A couple of lowriders:

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A lifted Mini. It’s different! Ready for a Mini adventure!

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Derek and Rodney Trotter. This one was actually used in filming!

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A couple of Hummers! A H6…

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Along with a lifted H1! If it was mine, I’d have to have black wheels rather than chrome. It’s super cool though! I bet no one cuts you up in it!

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A pair of Kenworths. These are huge in comparison to our European lorries.

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Finally, a Dodge Charger police car. These always remind me of The Fast and The Furious 5 with the scene with the safe.

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Speaking of TV and film; Drivetribe were hosting May, Hammond and Clarkson from the Grand Tour. Hammond’s Opel Kadett “Oliver” was on show. I only looked at it briefly but it looks as if it’s been really nicely restored.

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Drivetribe also had a Koenigsegg Agera on their stand. I believe this is the first one I’ve seen in person and yes, I would absolutely have one!

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Mercedes Benz World had a couple of small stands in the main hall and then a demonstration experience in a separate hall. They had a W204 C63 on one stand (which is still the best AMG C-Class sorry not sorry)

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Along with an AMG GTR in Green Hell Magno, which is a stunning colour, on the other stand.

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The engine block sits really far back in the bay, behind the front axle, much like the Group 5 Capri we saw earlier.

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The carbon fibre roof panel was a really nice detail.

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My W202 C240 has exactly the same sticker!

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The famous traction control toggle in the centre of the dashboard!

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Dub Customs had a stand which was nice to see. They are a vinyl wrapping and paint prootection company based literally just up the road from me in Basildon. When I used to work in Halfords some of the chaps from there would come in to get bits.

They had a variety of cars and bikes on display.

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You can check out their website by following this link: www.dubcustoms.co.uk

Another notable stand was Car Art stand which featured numerous custom painted Jaguar E-Type bonnets along with a Bugatti Veyron and a Jaguar XJ220.

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There was a lot of interesting “non-car” stuff exhibited too. These RVs/mobile homes were really popular. It would be super cool to be able to have one of these with your race car in your trailer. Motorsport in luxury!

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I didn’t get any pictures from inside as people were queuing to get into them all day. I’m sure they were very posh though.

New Holland also had a stand showcasing a couple of their tractors. I know nothing about tractors, but there is a huge New Holland factory in Basildon which is the next town across from me so I had to get a picture.

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JCB also had a stand with some agricultural/industrial machines. The thing that really caught my eye was this JCB land speed record car!

This is the JCB Dieselmax. It has twin 750hp engines and is four wheel driven. In August 2006 it reached 350.092mph making this the world’s fastest diesel!

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There were a couple more British built land speed record cars too.

Bloodhound was there. This thing just never fails to impress me. It’s just shy of 13 meters long which is huggeee. The plan is to get this to reach 1000mph which is just mentally fast.

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We’ll ironically end this blog post about at the Brooklands stand with the oldest car I photographed that day. Brooklands is one of my favourite places in the country and features a lot on this blog. If you ever get a chance to go I highly recommend it.

Here we have the Napier Railton. A beast of a machine built in 1933 that broke 47 speed records before the outbreak of WW2. It was driven by the legendary John Cobb.

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By Richard Francis

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