MOTORING / Nice to have you back where you belong: After a 17-year absence, London is on the international motor show map again

Back in the Sixties, when the British motor industry was one of the world's biggest and London was the international style capital, Earls Court was the motor show that car company bosses wanted to attend. And they wanted their exciting new cars to be there, too.

In the Seventies, it all went wrong. Britain's biggest car show moved to the NEC in Birmingham, and has been second-rate ever since. Frankfurt, Paris and Geneva are the shows that the big names and important new cars attend.

But that may be about to change. After a 17-year absence, London has a proper motor show again, replacing the Earls Court Motorfair, which started as little more than a car supermarket but evolved into a reasonable showcase for the home car industry. The plan is for Earls Court and the NEC to host the official annual show alternately.

This year's theme is the renaissance of the British car industry. The Japanese are largely responsible for the fact that, by the end of this decade, Britain should have the second biggest car industry in Europe, just as in the Sixties. All the Japanese makers are making a big effort for Earls Court, even though it conflicts with the biennial Tokyo Show.

Important new Japanese cars include the Honda Civic coupe, at pounds 10,000 extraordinarily good value for a Honda; the Xedos 9, Mazda's new V6-powered flagship and further evidence of the inexorable Japanese drive upmarket; the Suzuki Cappuccino, a sub-Mazda MX-5 sized (and priced) roadster; and the Lexus GS300, little brother to Toyota's Mercedes S-class-rivalling LS400.

More surprising, and likely to get even more attention at Earls Court, is the resurgence of the British sports car industry. TVR, once a maker of odd-looking and very unreliable glass-fibre monsters but increasingly a serious alternative to a Ferrari or Porsche, unveils its first hardtop four-seater for 20 years - the Cerbera. The new 5.0-litre version of the Griffith, arguably the world's most handsome roadster (and certainly the best sounding), also makes its debut.

Last year, AC - best known for the Cobra - was owned by Ford. Now it is independent, and about to launch its first new car for 30 years, the Ace. It will be powered by a 5.0-litre American Ford V8, production starts soon on the Brooklands industrial estate, and the price will be pounds 50,000.

Still on a sports car theme: Lotus, after its acquisition by Bugatti, reintroduces the Elan; and Morgan introduces a new Rover-engined Plus Four. Aston Martin gives its new pounds 80,000 DB7 its first British airing, before deliveries next spring.

Chrysler, now sounding serious about greatly expanding its European operations, launches its 8.0-litre V10-powered Viper roadster on the UK market. One of the most eye-catching cars ever built, the pounds 55,000 Viper is big, noisy, thirsty and cocks a snook at the political correctness that the industry now likes to promote.

Porsche gives the new 911 its British debut, a month before sales start. It's not the all-new model that the company disingenuously claims it to be, but it's none the worse for that. Instead, revised styling, revised engines and new rear suspension have transformed the exhilarating but rather demanding sports car into a superb driving machine that can now be trusted not to wag its tail in the wet.

Back in the real world, Ford launches its 1994 model range, which doesn't look much different from 1993's although driver's airbags are standard except on the Fiesta (which gets the change in a few months) and the Maverick off-roader. Ford's only new car is the Probe, spiritual successor to the Capri. The Probe uses Mazda mechanicals, is built in America and goes on sale here next spring. Ford expects it to knock the Calibra (making its show debut in the V6 version) off the top of the coupe sales charts.

Rover is trotting out its restyled Hondas (200, 400, 600 and 800 ranges) and revamped old-timers (Mini, Metro, Maestro, Montego), most of which are now doing rather well on export markets.

The most important new mainstream car is the Fiat Punto. Bigger, better made and safer than the Uno, the Punto is a competent small car that should boost Fiat's sales here. It's quirky, but not too radical to put off conservative British buyers. UK sales start next spring.

Saab and Mercedes both unleash crucial new models: the new 900 and C-Class respectively. Watch out too for the Audi ASF, the aluminium saloon prototype that will sire a replacement for the big (in size) but tiny (in sales) V8, to be known as the A8. That takes the road early next year. BMW unveils a convertible version of the latest 3-series, which looks good and drives well. Peugeot launches a 306 convertible and a couple of hot hatches. Volkswagen unveils a Golf Estate and face-lifted Passats.

Korean makers Kia, Hyundai and Asia Motors (a newcomer to the UK) all have new models offering spectacular value, including a new Hyundai Sonata, and the Rocsta off-roader. And still on the cheap but getting less nasty front, Lada has a new Samara variant called the Envi - which wins the prize for daftest new model name.

From the ridiculous to the sublime: Ferrari is launching its new 456 GT on the British market at the London show. This is one of the most beautiful, most cossetting and fastest cars ever made - and, at pounds 147,000, one of the priciest.

London Motor Show, Earls Court, open 21-31 October, 9.30am to 7.30pm except Tues 26, Wed 27 and Thurs 28 (9.30am-9pm) and Sun 31 (9.30am- 6pm). Adults pounds 7.50 (except opening day, pounds 12), OAPs and children under 14, pounds 4. Discounts if you enter after 5pm, or book in advance (071-373 8141).

(Photograph omitted)

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

    Associate Recrutiment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

    Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

    £120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

    PMLD Teacher

    Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence