British International Motor Show

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The Lotus Esprit was launched at the British International Motor Show, Earl's Court in 1974

The British International Motor Show was held regularly between 1903 and 2008, initially in London at Crystal Palace, Olympia and then Earl's Court before moving to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham in 1976 where it stayed until 2004. It then returned to London for 2006 and 2008 at the new location of ExCeL. The 2010 and 2012 shows were subsequently cancelled. The event is recognised by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles.


Britain's first motor show[1]—for horseless carriages—was held in South Kensington in 1896 at the Imperial Institute under the auspices of Lawson's Motor Car Club.[2] The first British Motor Show organised by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) was held at Crystal Palace, London in 1903, the same year that the speed limit was raised from 14 miles per hour (23 km/h) to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) by the Motor Car Act 1903 and two years before the formation of The Automobile Association. After the 1903 event it moved to Olympia in London, where it was held for the next 32 years before moving to Earl's Court, London from 1937 until 1976, except for the period of World War II during which time where were no shows.

From 1978, until 2004, it was held every second year at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham, with the 2004 event being held in May, rather than the traditional October, to avoid a clash with the Paris Motor Show.[3]

The July 2006, and July 2008 shows returned in ExCeL, London, prior to the cancellation of the 2010[4] and 2012[5] shows, due to the recession. Motorexpo, the World's largest free to visit motor show started in 1996 and is held annually at Canary Wharf in London, Brookfield Place in New York and Brookfield Place/First Canadian Place in Toronto. London Motorfair, an alternative London show was held at Earls Court biannually from 1977 to 1999.

In December 2014, it was announced by Prince Michael of Kent, the cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, that the London Motor Show will return in May 2016, to Battersea Park.

Show details[edit]

Detailed information for shows in later years.

Date Description Introduction Photo
1948 27 October – 6 November 1948
Earls Court, London.
Austin A70 Hampshire
Austin A90 Atlantic
Hillman Minx
Lagonda 2.6
Jaguar XK120
Morris Oxford MO
Morris Six MS
Singer SM1500
Sunbeam-Talbot 80/Sunbeam-Talbot 90
Vauxhall Velox
Vauxhall Wyvern
Wolseley 4/50
Wolseley 6/80
1949 28 September to 8 October 1949
34th International Motor Show,
Earls Court[6]
Austin A40 Sports[7]

Armstrong Siddeley

1951 17 October 1951 – 27 October 1951
Earls Court, London.
Austin A30
1956 17 October 1956 – 27 October 1956
Earls Court, London.
Volvo Amazon
Berkeley Cars
1957 16 October 1956 – 26 October 1957
Earls Court, London.
Lotus Elite
1959 21 October 1959 – 31 October 1959
Earls Court, London.
1959 Cadillac range
Daimler Majestic Major
Ford Anglia 105E
Jaguar Mark 2
Jaguar Mark IX
Riley 4
Jaguar Mark 2
1960 October 1960
Earls Court, London.
Humber Super Snipe Series III – Britain's first car with twin headlights
Lea-Francis Lynx[9]
Lea-Francis Lynx
1962 17 October 1962 – 27 October 1962
Earls Court, London.
Ford Cortina Mark I
Triumph Spitfire
Ford Contina Mark 1
1965 20 October 1965 – 30 October 1965
Earls Court, London.
AC Cobra Mark III[10]
AC convertible by Frua
Aston Martin DB6
Aston Martin Volante
Bentley T-series
Bristol 409
Jensen F. F. Mark III
Lotus Elan coupé
Riley Kestrel
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
Triumph 1300
Triumph 2000 estate
Wolseley 1100[10]
1966 19 October 1966 – 29 October 1966
Earls Court, London.
Aston Martin DBS[11]
Aston Martin DB6 Volante
Ford Zephyr Mark IV
Ford Zodiac Mark IV
Ford Cortina Mark II[12]
Ford estate cars by Abbott
Ford convertibles by Crayford
Hillman Hunter[12]
Jaguar 420
Jensen FF[13]
Singer Vogue
Triumph Vitesse 2-litre
Vauxhall Viva HB[12]

Alfa Romeo GTV
Alfa Romeo Duetto
Audi 80
Audi Super 90
BMW 1600
BMW 1800
BMW 2000 Ti Lux
BMW 2000 CS
Fiat 124
Ford Taunus 12
Ford Taunus 15M
Lancia Fulvia Zagato
Maserati Quattroporte
Mercedes-Benz 300SEL
Mercedes-Benz 250SE
Volvo 144

1967 18 October 1967 – 28 October 1967
Earls Court, London.
Austin/Morris Mini Mk2[14]
Triumph Herald 13/60[11]
NSU Ro 80[11]
Simca 1100[11]
Vauxhall Victor (FD)[15]
1968 16 October 1968 – 26 October 1968
Earls Court, London.
The opening ceremony was performed by Princess Alexandra
at 10 am on Wednesday 16 October.[16]
Jaguar XJ6[16]
Austin 3-litre[16] (relaunch)
Marcos 3 litre[17]
1972 18 October 1972 – 28 October 1972
Earls Court, London.
Bertone's Citroën GS Camargue was shown here.
Marina Estate[18]

Ford Consul 2500[18]
Ford Granada 3-litre[18]

Audi 80[18]
BMW 3.0CSL[18]
Citroën GS Camargue[18]
Mercedes-Benz S-Class[18]
Peugeot 104[18]
Renault 5[18]

The Aston Martin V8 at the 1972 Motor Show
1974 16 October 1974 – 26 October 1974
Earls Court, London.
The Citroën CX had been launched a few weeks earlier at the Paris Motor Show
and was scheduled for inclusion in the 1974 London show.
It was withdrawn at the eleventh hour, possibly because the manufacturers
found themselves unable to schedule rhd production of the car till well into 1975.[19]
The model nevertheless went on to win first place
with motoring journalists voting for the European Car of the Year a few months later.
Aston Martin Lagonda (long wheel-base, four-door version of the Aston Martin V8)[20]
Lotus Esprit (Worldwide launch)[21]
Lotus Eclat (2+2) (Worldwide launch)[21]
Porsche 930 Turbo
Panther De Ville (Worldwide launch, for the basic model it was one of the most expensive cars being displayed at the time)
Toyota 1100 (UK launch of the Toyota Publica)

Birmingham years[edit]

Date Description Introduction Photo
1978 The International Motor Show made its first appearance at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, and attracted record crowds of 908,194.[22]
1982 The International Motor Show again appeared at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham during October of this year.[23] The two most notable new launches were the Audi 100 and Ford Sierra. Other new cars included the Austin Ambassador, and MG Metro.[24][25]
1984 20 October 1984 – 28 October 1984 NEC, Birmingham. 17–19 October were reserved for professional visitors. The show saw a total of 696,183 visitors this year.[26] Austin Montego Estate – the Design Council award winning family estate from Austin Rover[27]
Reliant Scimitar SS1
Dutton Rico[28]
1986 18 October −26 October 1986 NEC, Birmingham. Jaguar XJ (XJ40)
Renault GTA in RHD, British debut[29]
1988 22 October 1988 – 30 October 1988 NEC, Birmingham. Jaguar XJ220 – debut of Jaguar's 220 mph (350 km/h) all wheel drive (AWD) super car concept vehicle
MG Maestro Turbo[30]
Middlebridge Scimitar[31]
1998 22 October to 1 November 1998 at the NEC, Birmingham. Saw the launch of two critical saloons from British car manufacturers. The then BMW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder made an impromptu speech about the future of the Rover Longbridge plant which would then lead to the sell of the brand in 2000 and its collapse in 2005. Rover 75 – debut of the first (and last) Rover with the help of BMW
Jaguar S-Type – all new executive car from Jaguar, retro in design like the Rover.
2000 The International Motor Show remained in the Birmingham NEC during October. Honda made the news in claiming that it would have fuel cell cars on sale by 2003.[32]
2002 The 2002 show at the NEC, Birmingham featured the international Bentley Continental GT
TVR T350[33]
2004 In 2004 the show, branded The Sunday Times Motorshow Live, was held from 27 May – 6 June, instead of the usual October.
2006 The 2006 British Motor Show was held in July at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London's Docklands. It featured a nightly post-show rock music festival called Dock Rock. Alfa Romeo Spider (UK introduction)Aston Martin Rapide (UK introduction)
Bentley Continental Flying Spur Mulliner Driving Specification
BMW M6 Convertible
Chevrolet Captiva (UK introduction)
Chrysler Sebring sedan (Europe introduction)
Dodge Nitro (Europe introduction)
Ford Focus coupe-convertible (UK introduction)
Honda Civic 3-door hatchback

Jaguar XJR Portfolio
Jaguar XKR
Kia C-segment model (codename ED)
Land Rover Freelander2/LR2 (World Introduction)
Lexus GS 300 Limited Edition
Lotus Europa S (UK introduction)
Lotus Exige S (UK introduction)
Mazda BT-50 (Europe introduction)
Mazda3 MPS (UK introduction)
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe
MINI GP (UK introduction)
Mitsubishi i (Europe introduction)
Rolls-Royce 101EX (UK introduction)
Saab 9-3 Convertible BioPower
SEAT León Cupra
Smart Fortwo EV
Toyota RAV4 (UK introduction)
Toyota Yaris (UK introduction)
Vauxhall Corsa 3-door and 5-door (World introduction)
Volvo S60
Volvo S80 (UK introduction)
Volvo XC90 (UK introduction)

2008 The 2008 British International Motor Show was held at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London's Docklands from 23 July – 3 August and was the last regular British International Motorshow. The SMMT promoted an all-new showcase of the latest electric vehicle models. "The Electric Vehicle Village" brought together one of the largest collections of zero-emissions vehicles ever seen in the UK, with a display of more than 20 vehicles which are propelled solely by battery power.[34] The motor show displayed a number of high-priced, high-performance electric cars such as the Lightning GT and Tesla Roadster. Alfa Romeo Mito (international and UK introduction)

Ford Focus RS
Lotus Evora
Mastretta MXT[35] (first Mexican sports car)
Nissan Qashqai+2
Ford Fiesta ECOnetic
Vauxhall Insignia
SsangYong Rexton R-Line

Concept Cars:
Cadillac CTS Coupe Concept
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Citroen C-Cactus
Honda OSM
Kia Excee'd Convertible
Kia Kee
Land Rover LRX
Lexus LFA Concept
Lotus Elise Eco
Saab 9-X Biohybrid BioHybrid
Smart fortwo ed

The 2006 show also had concerts by:

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Times, Tuesday, Nov 14, 1905; pg. 7; Issue 37864
  2. ^ Horseless Carriages. The Times, Monday, Feb 17, 1896; pg. 7; Issue 34815
  3. ^ Jorn Madslien (24 May 2004). "Struggling motorshow in spring debut". BBC News. 
  4. ^ Julian Rendell (27 January 2009). "British motor show in crisis". Autocar. 
  5. ^ Tim Pollard (14 October 2010). "British motor show axed for good?". Car. 
  6. ^ Display advertisement, page 5, Gloucestershire Echo, 24 September 1949
  7. ^ "Motoring Memories: Austin A40 Sports, 1951–1953". Canadian Driver, 15 June 2007, Bill Vance. 
  8. ^ A Record Motor Show. The Times, Monday, Sep 26, 1949; pg. 2; Issue 51496
  9. ^ Lawrence, Mike (1991). A to Z of Sports Cars. Bideford, Devon: Bay View Books. p. 180. ISBN 1-870979-81-8. 
  10. ^ a b Cars Of Today by Stuart Marshall. The Times, Tuesday, Oct 19, 1965; pg. 4; Issue 56456
  11. ^ a b c d "Visitors' Guide: Hours and Charges; Opening Day; How to Get There (i.e. concerning the London Motor Show)". Autocar. 127 (nbr 3739): page 59. 12 October 1967. 
  12. ^ a b c Basil Cardew (Ed.). Daily Express Review of the 1966 Motor Show. Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd, London. 
  13. ^ Keith Anderson. Jensen. Haynes Publishing Group. ISBN 0-85429-682-4. 
  14. ^ "The cars : Mini development history". AR Online. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "About the FD Victor, Ventora and VX4/90". Vauxhall VX4/90 Drivers' Club. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c "Earls Court '68: Hours and Charges". Autocar. 129 (nbr 3791): page 52. 10 October 1968. 
  17. ^ Braunschweig, Robert; et al., eds. (12 March 1970). "Automobil Revue '70" (in German and French) 65. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 370. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Times, Thursday, Oct 12, 1972; pg. 29; Issue 58603.
  19. ^ "World-wide comment: No Citroën CX at earls Court". Autocar: page 18. 12 October 1974. 
  20. ^ Autocar Motor Show Supplement 19 October 1974
  21. ^ a b "Brief Lotus History". The Espirit Factfile. 
  22. ^ Car Magazine 19 March 2009
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ 1982 in motoring#United Kingdom
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ "Près de 700.000 visiteurs à Birmingham" [Nearly 700,000 visitors to Birmingham]. Transporama (in French) (Edegem, Belgium) 4 (31): 11. December–January 1984/1985.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  27. ^ "Story of the Montego". Maestro & Montego Owners Club. 
  28. ^ Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 264. ISBN 88-7212-012-8. 
  29. ^ Liszewski, Nicolas. "Alpine V6 Turbo Mille Miles". Le site des amateurs et passionnés des Alpine Renault GTA (in French). Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  30. ^ Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (9 March 1989). Automobil Revue 1989 (in German and French) 84. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 400. ISBN 3-444-00482-6. 
  31. ^ Automobil Revue 1989, p. 401
  32. ^ The Guardian 12 November 2000
  33. ^ What Car? 22 October 2002
  34. ^ British Motor Show "Plugs In" To Demand For Electric Vehicles
  35. ^ Automóvil Panamericano, No. 163 (15 July 2008), p.20

External links[edit]