London’s famous Regent Street is a mecca for shoppers and has been for almost 200 years.
This November, the capital’s renowned thoroughfare will be turning the clock back more than 120 years to a time when the new-fangled horseless carriage first took patrons to the street that original architect John Nash envisaged as filled with ‘shops appropriated to articles of fashion and taste’.
Saturday 4 November is the day that Regent Street is closed to through traffic and becomes the country’s largest free-to-view motor show. The iconic street will be filled with cars from the past, present and future as mouth-watering classics are put on display alongside the latest future-proof low and zero emission electric and hybrid vehicles from leading manufacturers.
The centre of attention for many of the 400,000-plus visitors to the Regent Street Motor Show will be the annual Veteran Car Concours d’Elegance. Held the day before the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run supported by Hiscox makes its annual trip from London to Brighton, the Concours d’Elegance will see around 100 of these remarkable motoring pioneers vying for honours.
In keeping with the spirit of the event, many of the drivers and passengers will dress in period costume, reflecting the fashions of the era… fashions just like those that might have been purchased from Regent Street at the end of the 19th century.
Among the prizes this year will be a special award for the top French car and ensemble, reflecting the theme of this year’s Veteran Car Run. Although Germany is generally regarded as the birthplace of the automobile, France was the nation that introduced the car to the world. In 1903, for example, more than 30,000 cars were manufactured in France, representing about half the world’s total production.
As ever, a team of knowledgeable judges will minutely inspect every car to find the winners. Judges in previous years have included Formula 1 boss Ross Brawn, himself a Veteran Car Run participant, and classic car authority, TV’s Edd China.
Commenting on what to expect from this year’s event, Nick Wigley, CEO of Show organisers, Goose Live Events, who run the event on behalf of the Royal Automobile Club, said: “The Regent Street Motor Show embraces everything from the earliest 19th century veterans to the 21st century cars and motoring technologies of the future – the electric vehicles we will all be driving tomorrow. We’ll be closing Regent Street to through traffic during the day to provide a safe and highly accessible environment for everyone to enjoy… absolutely free. It will be phenomenal”.
Both the Regent Street Motor Show and the Veteran Car Run are key events in the week-long London Motor Week run by the Royal Automobile Club. The first Regent Street Motor Show was staged in 2005 and it has now become a hugely popular must-see spectacle, attracting vast crowds keen not only to see the cars and take test drives in the latest machinery but also enjoy street entertainment from dance troupes and a motorcycle stunt team.
And, of course, there’s ample opportunity to shop for clothing that’s the height of today’s fashion. Styles might have changed somewhat, but the Regent Street shops are still ‘appropriated to articles of fashion and taste.’