Petrolheadonism Underground 2023

Last year I had the opportunity to go to Petrolheadonism Live at Knebworth House (which you can read about here: It was a huge show that brought together a wide variety of cars covering the width and depth of the U.K’s car culture.

When I heard they were hosting a ‘Underground’ style event in the car parks of London’s famous Wembley Stadium I knew I’d have to go and investigate!

Once again Ciro and his team knocked it out of the park (that might not be the most appropriate phrase as I don’t think baseball has ever been played at Wembley) with a massive variety of cars ranging from European and American classics to the modern super cars.

Mercedes are a big part of this blog. I’ve owned several over the years and have written loads of ‘how to’ guides on maintenance and repairs (which you can explore here:

Normally with this kind of post I leave the Mercs until a little bit later, but we’re going to start with them today.

It’s always nice to see W202s at shows. I love mine, but I do feel they are a bit underrated in the wider car community.

There were a number of the C-Class’ predecessor on display – the W201 190E. They look fantastic as DTM tributes.

The little duck tail really suits the coupe C124 in my opinion.

As much as I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to 1960s-1990s Mercedes, I have to admit the W140 S-Class and C126 SEC always look good in the slammed VIP style.

As does Ciro’s own R107. The paint work and the original AMG Penta wheels really make that build pop!

The W204 C63 AMG. As much as it doesn’t make sense I keep toying with the idea of getting a second car for my 30th birthday. I’m torn between a Porsche 996 911 and one of these. With that 6.2 litre M156 V8 I think it’s a good tribute to the original W109 300 SEL with the M100 (which the founders of AMG built into the Rote Sau race car).

They are also relatively affordable to buy now and have a huge tuning potential with companies like Kleemann making supercharging kits.

However, I’m sure in the long run if I were to get one it would hardly be used and it will end up as a money pit. They are super cool though!

BMW were really well represented. There were quite a few E30 3-Series. My Dad owned two of these when I was very young – A grey 316 auto saloon and a black 318 manual estate.

Having spent most of my teenage years and early twenties following drifting, the E36 will always have a special place in my heart. They are getting a bit more few and far between now though!

A few more 1980s and 1990s BMWs that caught my eye as I was going round.

I’m not really much of a VW guy, I know that the Auto Finesse trucks always look fantastic! Their little fleet seems to be growing too. Last time I saw them there were only two trucks!

I remember Forge Motorsport debuting this at Autosport way back in the day.

There were a couple of 996 911s. I really would like one of these as a weekend/special occasions car.

A beautiful Vaillant liveried 911. A great tribute of the 934 RSR.

Lamborghini were very well represented with the Aventador platform.

I’ve only ever seen a couple of Urus’ in person, and whenever I have it’s always been in sleepy villages where they look really out of place and obnoxious. In the context of the city they sort of don’t look that bad. It’s a car that has to suit its’ environment for sure. I’m still undecided.

There were a couple of older cars too including the previous generation Gallardo and its’ bigger brother the Murcielago (I still have to Google how to spell that haha!).

The Diablo from the 1990s is a car that I’ve only really come to appreciate in the past couple of months. For some reason they had completely flown under my radar before, but I’ve really taken a liking to them.

The other Italian super car giant – Ferrari weren’t as popular at the show.

This, I believe, Liberty Walk kitted F430 was actually one of my favourite cars of the show. The teal brake calipers nicely broke up the all black look and I LOVED the carbon and silver badges on the flanks.

One supercar event that I would love to get more involved with in time is the Gumball 3000 rally. This year the rally will be going from Edinburgh to Porto Montenegro. It’ll be passing through London on Sunday 11th June (which I should be going to! I think I’ve booked the day off of work anyway.)

It looks like a great rally and every year the Gumball Foundation raises a tonne of money (£1.3 million during the 2022 Toronto – Miami rally) which goes to projects which help underprivileged kids around the world.

I think Gumball is a fantastic brand and project and it’s something that I really hope I can be more involved with some day. It’ll be a lot of hours overtime on the forklift to even afford the entry fee though haha!

I’ll be honest, the only reason I know of Gumball is because of the YouTuber Tim (Shmee150) who I started following after seeing some of his Gumball footage from Las Vegas. He had quite a few of his cars on display.

The car that really stood out for me though was his new Zenvo TSR-S with the active rear spoiler. I had the privilege of seeing one at SEMA last year (which you can see here:

It’s such an interesting looking car from a lesser known company.

The purple with the lime green pinstriping is a bold spec but it really suits the car!

Another notable YouTuber had a couple of cars there. That Youtuber was Adam C (AdamC3046). I’ll be honest – I don’t watch the guy, I don’t know anything about him, but he did have a couple of cool cars.

Both the Chaser and the Cobra could feed us nicely into our next section of this blog which will either be Japanese cars or American cars. As I am a professional and always plan my writing to the nth degree, I shall toss a coin to decide which to write about next.

The coin gods said American cars.

There wasn’t a massive amount of American cars but those that were there were quality!

This is a Hertz “Rent a Racer” GT350H. Hertz rental cars commissioned 1001 Shelby GT350s to rent out to people. Apparently quite a few people hired them, then swapped the engines into their normal Mustangs and gave the car back to Hertz with the normal Mustang engine! That’s one of my favourite automotive stories!

The race car next to it was rather lovely too!

I was surprised that there weren’t many modern U.K market Mustangs. The only one I took a picture of was this yellow GT.

There were a fewmodern Camaros.

There were also a pair of first gen Camaros. These are probably my favourites from the golden age of muscle cars.

I am quite fond of Challenger though!

Also from the Mopar stable was this Viper. V10, manual gearbox, rear wheel drive, all wrapped up in a light weight 2 seater sports car. What’s not too like?

As was fitting of an underground themed event, there were a lot of Japanese cars!

There were a plethora of 1990s Nissan R and S chassis’.

Of particular note was the Auto Finesse S15 with the Group 5 inspired Liberty Walk body kit. This was parked on Olympic Way to promote the show to passers by.

The R35 GTR platform is massively tuneable and used for lots of different motorsports. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of 1/2 mile drag racing from the U.S and it’s a very popular car for that.

Another 4WD Japanese car with huge motorsport heritage and tuning potential is the Mitsubishi Evo. The Tommi Makinen Edition (red car with the black and white stripe) was my highlight.

Rotary powered Mazdas are a guilty pleasure of mine. Here we have the FD3S RX7.

The Mazda JC Cosmo. A super rare, Japan only market, luxury grand tourer. I didn’t know these existed until Essex Rotary posted one on Instagram the other year. Not many were built so I can’t imagine that there are only a couple in the U.K!

Pre R32 Skylines are also very rare in the UK! It was nice to see this tastefully modified R30.

Another lovely Japanese classic was this Toyota Crown coupe. I’ve never seen one in person before! I’m sure I’ll get slated for saying this but it reminded me a lot of a Mk1 Granada coupe (in a good way!).

There is always an S30 Z at the car shows I go to in the U.S. It’s very rare to see them here in the U.K though. I think it had stiff competition at the time from Ford’s Capri and I’d imagine a lot of them rusted away over the years. This one was beautifully finished!

The last thing I’d like to touch on is the Max Power Reunion display. It’s nice to see this style making a resurgence. I know it’s not for everyone, but there’s a tonne of creativity in these builds!

If memory serves, this Datapost Escort was my favourite car at Petrolheadonism Live!

All in all I really enjoyed my day at Petrolheadonism Underground. There were a lot of cool cars there and it’s another car show to add to the calendar in London for me to support and enjoy!

One thing I would like to get off my chest though, is if you attend a public car show, please don’t touch the cars on display. I saw one grown man (both these incidents were grown men, not kids) get into the drivers seat of a McLaren with the doors up and another try turning the steering wheel of a U.S style courier van. I know that it’s only like 0.0001% of people that would even consider doing that sort of thing, but please don’t. You wouldn’t want your stuff getting tampered with.

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By Richard Francis

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