Tuesday November 7, 2017
For me, the 1980s was the era of the British International Motor Show with five shows that took place between leaving junior school and starting university.
There was always that sense of anticipation – plus various brochures to be collected!
Anyone who visited the NEC will remember the interest, the excitement even, created by the Austin Mini Metro and the Ford Escort Mk.
III and some of the uber-naff dancing found on the Mitsubishi stand.
The Rolls Royce Silver Spirit was to be admired from afar and the Fiat Panda made its UK debut and it is a testament to the latter’s styling that it certainly does not look nearly four decades old.
I also recall seeing two now almost forgotten vehicles.
The Honda Quintet was a short-lived five-door hatchback that bridged the gap between the Civic and the Accord while the Vauxhall display featured the Viceroy – aka the Opel Commodore C with a name shared with an exceedingly nice chocolate biscuit.
Or, the year of the Audi 100 C3 and the Sierra, the Ford that consigned the Cortina name to history, although virtually all visitors to the Austin-Rover line-up would have been tempted by the new MG Metro, the marque had been revived earlier that year, and the SD1 Vitesse.
For those who required a car with slightly more in the way of economy, there was a black and yellow Citroen 2CV Charleston while a trio of models attempted to bestow glamour on to a Lada 1500 DL Estate.
This NEC show footage contains priceless evidence of the short-lived but memorable double act of Patrick Mower and Rowan Atkinson (I am not making this up).
Asides from that, there was the Lotus Etna V8 Berlinetta concept car, the slightly more practical and affordable Austin Montego Estate and the Reliant Scimitar SS1 which also had the distinction of being Giovanni Michelotti’s final design.
Toyota was showcasing the MR2, prior to its official UK launch the following year and the TVR stand featured the exceptionally tempting 390SE.
And there was a new Bentley, the Eight, which was intended to appeal to the BMW 7-Series or Mercedes-Benz W126 market sector.
For many, including myself, this was the year of the Jaguar XJ40 and the Rover 800, the latter in its Sterling guise.
I was also fascinated by the AC Ace prototype and the Renault GTA making its British debut while seeing archive pictures of the Peugeot 309 and the Fiat Croma make me feel quite exceptionally old – it is a further shock It is another shock to realise that the Citroen AX is now over 30 years old.
This splendid PR film illustrates what the Rover Group had in store for the NEC and for sporting drivers there was the turbocharged Toyota Supra with the ‘White Package’.
TVR’s new 280, and the Ginetta G32. The awards for ‘Star of The Show’ should have been jointly bestowed on the Aston Martin Virage or the Jaguar XJ220 although fleet buyers were more inclined towards the third generation Vauxhall Cavalier and the Montego Turbo Diesel.