It survived the Great Depression, but Motor Show is now cancelled

The recession has halted the 2010 British International Motor (BIM) Show, a feat only ever achieved before by a world war. At least half-a-million visitors were expected to flock to the event at the ExCel centre in London's Docklands next year. But vehicle sales are in such a parlous state that the big manufacturers – all of whom have cut production in recent months, and the majority of whom have cut jobs – are simply not able to commit the kind of seven-figure sums needed to fund a decent showing at the 10-day event.

Despite surviving the Great Depression unscathed, the glitz of the UK's biggest consumer exhibition simply no longer makes commercial sense – what with car sales down by more than a fifth in February alone and the carnage set to run into next year.

The BIM was the brainchild of Frederick R Simms, who founded the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which put on the first BIM in 1903. Paul Everitt, head of the SMMT, said yesterday: "The credit crunch has placed the automotive sector under unique pressure."

At the very first show, in Crystal Palace, 10,000 people flocked to gawp at horseless carriages. Pausing only briefly from 1914-18, and again from 1937-45, the BIM went from strength to strength. By the 1950s visitor numbers routinely topped half a million and as many as 50 new models were hitting the world stage at every event, including the Jensen 541, the first car with an all-plastic body and a top speed of more than 100mph. In the 1970s and 1980s, when the event was run at the NEC in Birmingham, up to a million people flocked to see world debuts like the Jaguar XJ220 and the Lotus Eclat.

In 2006, the BIM came back to London, and its character shifted again. The more consumer-led focus included a nightly musical called "Dock Rock". And punters were able to drive the exhibits as well as look at them. "We have to compete with a day out at Thorpe Park or Alton Towers," said a source at one big-name manufacturer. "From the days at the NEC when it was petrol heads drooling over static displays with glamour girls draped over them, it is now all interactive and full of ride and drive." Sadly it'll be none of those things in 2010.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions