London Classic Car Show Report

Show report from the London Classic Car Show Olympia London 20-23 February 2020

2020 marked the next chapter in the history of the London Classic Car Show as it moved to the prestigious Olympia London in Kensington. It was previously held at Excel London.

Now in its sixth year, The London Classic Car Show has firmly established itself as the must-attend event for discerning classic car owners, collectors, connoisseurs and enthusiasts. This was the third consecutive year the Fiat 500 Club was invited to display in the Car Club area, this time located on the gallery of this fine Victorian cast iron building with the bonus of natural light flooding in from the vast glass roof.

Our load-in slot was Wednesday evening which involved each of our cars taking an industrial lift to the gallery, a first for all of us. We had been allocated a very long plot which enabled our five cars to have space to show them off to full effect.

Taking centre stage, Laurie’s immaculate cream 1964 500D was transported by trailer from Essex and this was the owners first experience of a Fiat 500 Club event. It is to be hoped that it will not the last as it would be fair to say this car was the highlight of our stand. With only 22,000 miles on the clock and one previous owner it was a lucky “barn find” in 2016 which has been painstakingly restored by Laurie with the assistance of Alto Autocare. Several admirers across the weekend made offers to buy it such was its desirability.

Botty- Vikki’s gorgeous pale blue 1965 500F – made a welcome return and is becoming a popular fixture at the big events with the Fiat 500 club. Vikki had very cleverly rigged up a digital photo album in the side window with a slide show of photos of the car being transformed from a wreck to a beauty. After spending 30 years in a Hampshire garage patiently waiting for her engine to be rebuilt, Botty found herself on eBay. Restoration work started in April 2016 and was completed in December 2018. The car was also selected to be featured in the official show guide, thus ensuring the classic Fiat 500 and our club was represented amongst all the super marques.

Having been driven from Cambridge on a dark, wet Wednesday evening by a friend of the owner, who had never previously got behind the wheel of a Fiat 500, Paul’s navy blue 1970  500F made it on to the stand in the nick of time before loading bay doors were bolted shut. The car was on the club stand at the LCCS in 2018 and was welcomed back this year. With its cherry red upholstery and matching mohair roof, it is the perfect contrast to the navy bodywork. Its understated good looks received plenty of admiring looks.

The oldest car on the stand was courtesy of James with his 1959 500D which he drove from south east London. The car is a rare right-hand drive model and has many original characteristics of the earlier 500N including the original 500N fitted petrol tank also showing no ashtray in the centre of the dash. Remarkably it has only had 4 previous owners. James has had it in his possession for the last 9 years and regularly displays it at club events.

In contrast the youngest car on the stand was my red 1973 500L, fully restored by Weenie Fiats in 2011 with a nod to Abarth styling. The restoration included a bare metal re-spray in Rosso Corallo, fitting a 650cc engine from a Fiat 126, synchro gears, sporty alloy wheels and disc brakes. It has 38,000 miles on the clock. I had a surprise when the car’s previous owner introduced himself to me at the show, so I got more background history about it.

The show was constantly busy with over 25,000 visitors across the weekend. Compared with the previous two LCCS we found the visiting public to be a highly engaged audience. It was a pleasure to chat to many members of the club who took time to join us on the stand for a chat across weekend.  New members joined up at the stand and along with this, interest in our cars was high with a few visitors commenting owning a Fiat 500 would be their entry point into the world of classic cars. Dante Giacosa got it so right when he designed this car; it has become an icon.

On Sunday, we were told by an attendee our stand was the best in the show which reflected well on all the hard work put in the by the team. I am indebted to Vikki, James, Laurie and Paul for displaying their beautiful cars. Janet, Roger, Paul and Christine for bringing the backdrops and banners and Suzanne and Julian for staffing the stand on Saturday. A second mention for Vikki who was my wing woman on Friday and Sunday, assisting with the constant stream of visitors asking all manner of questions about the cars or sharing fond memories of their experiences with Fiat 500s in the 1960’s and 70’s. One man told me that, as a small child in the late 60’s, his father had one and trips out consisted of his dad driving, his mum in the front seat, his 2 grandparents in the rear with him and his 2 younger siblings on the laps of the adult passengers. Family motoring at its best!

The organisers of London Classic Car Show have now announced it will return to Olympia on 18-22 February 2021.

                       Lisa Bardsley London and SE Events rep