The car industry meltdown gave the excuse, but even without it the British motor show was already looking seriously vulnerable prior to the news of its cancellation for next year.

Throughout the ExCel years the big problem has been numbers. Not of punters; both the 2006 and 2008 attracted their stated target of visitors. Rather, the problem has been a paucity of manufacturers, with a depressingly long list of major makers opting to do something else with their promotional budgets.

Even without the collapse in car sales there seemed little chance that any of the significant ‘no shows’ were going to be persuaded to come back into the fold for the 2010 event. And without them – and the possible addition of some other refusniks – the show was going to struggle to create the critical mass to get other marketing directors to sign on the multi-million pound line.

For all that car enthusiasts regard motor shows as entertainments organised for our own pleasure, their balance-sheet viability is always based on pulling in ordinary punters who are looking to have a poke around some candidates for their next potential purchase. And if getting on for 50 per cent of the motor industry can’t be bothered to turn up, this becomes a bit of a pointless exercise – indeed you might as well save a tenner on admission and do your homework at a car supermarket.