Autosport International, the annual curtain-raiser to the motorsport season and celebration of performance cars, is now in its 26th year.
As always, there’ll be a hearty display of racing and track-focused cars, a sprinkling of motorsport celebrities and a couple of new car world debuts for good measure.
The show is located across the expansive halls of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and throws open its doors to the public on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 January. If you’re planning a trip to the Midlands, here are 10 attractions and experiences not to be missed.
1 - Autocar stand
On our very own display, you’ll be able to get a close look at a selection of our favourite cars from recent months, including the latest Mazda MX-5 and Honda Civic Type R, as well as the McLaren P1 GTR, Aston Martin Vulcan, BMW M4 GTS and Ferrari 488 GTB.
2 - Live Action Arena
Another integral part of the show is the live action arena, where you can watch some of the star attractions perform in this 5000-seat – and notoriously slippery – venue. This year, some of the cars from the Autocar display will take the arena, alongside rallycross champion Petter Solberg, who will perform a precision driving routine, and bike racer and TV presenter Guy Martin appearing as part of a motorcycle troupe.
3 - Williams Martini Racing Formula 1 motorhome
The Williams Martini Racing motorhome will be erected at the show – the first time that the structure has appeared outside of an F1 race setting. Taking pride of place right next to the Autosport stage – where a constant rotation of interviews will be taking place throughout both days – the Williams display will also embrace the company’s heritage and advanced engineering divisions, as well as featuring an extensive line-up of the racing team’s famous F1 cars, from its birth in 1978 to last year’s Mercedes-powered FW37.
4 - Damon Hill
Another Williams legend will grace the show in the shape of 1996 world champion Damon Hill. In Birmingham, he’ll be reunited with the Williams-Renault FW18 in which he won the crown. The show celebrates his illustrious career and marks 20 years since the biggest win of his racing career.
5 - More celebrity guests
Hill won’t be the only famous face to appear at the NEC. A host of motoring and motorsport stars will be at the show, including Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa, Williams top brass Claire Williams and Rob Smedley, Le Mans legend Allan McNish and British Touring Car Championship drivers Colin Turkington, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan.
6 - Coys auction
Classic cars to be auctioned by Coys on the Saturday of the show include a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT, a 1985 MG Metro 6R4 and a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190SL. Even if you’re not in the market for a slice of motoring history, the auction itself is often worth a watch. Record-breaking bids are commonplace. Just be careful what you do with your hands if you’re watching rather than bidding.
7 - Hot Hatch Nirvana
The Performance Car Show will display the Evolution of the Hot Hatch, celebrating 40 years of svelte performance machines. Curated by our very own Richard Bremner, the top 10 hot hatches as determined by a global vote by Autocar and Pistonheads readers will be on display. The outright winner of the vote will be announced during the show. Forming the backdrop to the hot hatch display will the Hot Hatch Wall of Fame, a collage made up of pictures of enthusiasts’ own hot hatches, submitted via social media.
8 - Star cars from UK marques
It almost goes without saying that a dazzling array of cars will be present at the show, including McLaren’s P1 GTR and 570S, the BAC Mono and track-themed cars from Noble, Radical and Avatar to match the motorsport theme.
9 - Zenos E10 R debut
Rising sports car manufacturer Zenos will unveil its hot E10 R in the midst of the show. The £39,995 E10 R is powered by a 2.3-litre Ford Ecoboost engine, producing 350bhp and 350lb ft, with a power-to-weight ratio of 500bhp per tonne, and a 0-60 sprint time of 3.0sec.
10 - Arrinera Hussarya GT
Another debut taking place at Autosport International will be that of ‘the first Polish racing car’; the Arrinera Hussarya GT. Although a little-known operation, Arrinera is well-connected in the motorsport world, with the company’s CEO, Greg Pękala, having formerly worked at Mosler and Lotus Motorsport.
11 - Ginetta G57 prototype debut
Zenos won’t be the only manufacturer holding a debut at the Autosport show; Ginetta will reveal its G57 prototype racer. No performance details have been released for the G57, other than its use of a 580bhp 6.3-litre LS3 V8 engine sourced from Chevrolet, and technical specifications, such as its six-speed sequential gearbox by Xtrac, carbonfibre monocoque chassis with crash box, and steel rollcage.
12 - Adrenalin Zone
The Adrenaline Zone hosts lots of wheel-to-wheel racing on the karting track. Visitors can get behind the wheel of a 115cc kart for arrive-and-drive sessions. Passenger rides in a Ginetta G40 are also available, taking willing volunteers around a specially made drift course.
13 - The Pie and Piston
Pistonheads’ Pie and Piston pub will open its doors again, so stop for a refreshment if you need a break from the rest of the show. This is also your chance to get up close and personal with some of the Pistonheads team’s favourite cars, and if you’re lucky, you might just meet a member of the team in person.
14 - Ford GT Le Mans
The Le Mans-prepped Ford GT will appear at the show on the main stage. The headline-grabbing racer will also be joined by the recently-announced British members of the Ford Le Mans team, Andy Priaulx and Marino Franchitti. Of particular note is the fact that 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1-2-3 Le Mans finish of the original Ford GT40.
15 - Jaguar C-X75
As seen in the Bond film Spectre – driven by Bond villain Hinx, played by Dave Bautista - the Jaguar C-X75 will make two appearances at the show; one example on static display, with the other taking a turn in the 5000-seat Autosport International live arena.
16 - Sky Sports F1
The Sky Sports F1 team will be hosting two events per day throughout the show, including interviews with star guests such as Felipe Massa, Claire Williams, Pay Symonds and Rob Smedley. The Sky team, which includes hosts Natalie Pinkham, Simon Lazenby, Rachel Brookes and Ted Kravitz, will be based at a temporary studio near the Autosport stage.
Tickets for Autosport International and the Performance Car Show are on sale now, costing £32 for adults and £21 for children. Visit autosportinternational.com or phone 0844 581 1420 for details. The show is open between 9am and 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available on the day but organisers recommend booking ahead to avoid queues; advance tickets can be found here.