The one-minute expert; Your essential companion to this week's big event

Birmingham Motor Show
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The Independent Online
Is this show like the Motor Show at Earl's Court?

The very same.

But it's in Birmingham.

They had to put something in the National Exhibition Centre, and Birmingham is the centre of Britain's motor industry - what's left of it.

Mr Toad's not going to like this.

In a classless society, even the weasels drive motor cars. And public transport isn't used as much up in the Wild Wood as it is in London.

So it's not being held in London at all any more?

On alternate years it is. Which means that it has huge crowds one year and somewhat smaller ones the next.

Doesn't that make it, well, less important?

It's been less important for a long time. The Motor Show used to be in the top league of car exhibitions, but now it's eclipsed by Detroit, Tokyo, Geneva and even Paris.

But it's still international.

Indeed it is. In fact it's hardly British at all. The cars will mostly be made by foreign companies. Even firms that people traditionally think of as British are foreign-owned. Like Ford and Rover.

So what will the big attractions be this year?

There's a competition for best safety feature of the century. Seat belts are odds-on according to the bookies.

That should drag them in from Tamworth.

And a prototype for a car in 2096 - described by one commentator as resembling a large snail.

Traffic will be so bad, cars will move at a snail's pace?

No, they'll whiz along under computer control. It doesn't even have a steering wheel. There won't be any crashes at all.

Mr Toad won't like that either. At least there won't be as many Toad Rage attacks in the future.

It sounds rather peaceful.

Quite lively actually. Toad, and other male visitors, will be enticed by the graceful curves, stylish lines and alluring bodies of the exciting range of models on display.

You mean the girls, don't you?

Well, yes. They may not be as scantily clad as they were in the past, but they'll still be draped all over the new bonnets.

Women buy cars too, you know.

But not because they're persuaded a car is sexy. Women are far more practical than that. Only men are so easy to dupe.

Will the (female) models be unveiling lots of new (car) models?

Sort of. Most of the cars will have been shown off earlier in other, more prestigious shows.

That's a bit of a let-down.

But this will be the first time they've been seen here - except in motor magazines of course.

Anything else?

There will be more security.

Why's that?

The last time it was held in Birmingham, two pounds 43,000 Mitsubishi cars were stolen - from a high security car park.