It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment the magic started wearing off motor shows. Whatever the reasons and timing, a new breed of motoring event has sprung up instead – the latest being Grand Basel.

Awkwardly named, it has to be said, Grand Basel follows on from Art Basel, held in the Swiss city of that name and a significant global show for art collectors and traders.

Grand Basel now hopes to fill that slot for cars, concentrating on historically significant cars, cars that are culturally important and cars that are just simply beautiful or exciting.

The organisers talk about it as a show for “automotive masterpieces”, “a platform for automotive culture”, “a marketplace” and a “space for discussion”.

Certainly, the first event was graced by any number of outstanding Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and Lamborghini models, plus some significant concepts – all drawn from car makers' back catalogues.

What Grand Basel definitely is not is a show for OEM car makers with huge sales stands covered in branding and trying to push the metal. That’s a different type of car show altogether.

The opening event has three floors housing around 100 cars, each one presented in a ‘frame’ – a well-lit cube with a clean and simple floor and defined by four uprights – giving the flavour of a giant toy car box. The organisers wanted a simple picture frame, of the sort that doesn’t detract from the artwork contained within. They succeeded.

About half the 100 exhibits were “invitation only”, said Professor Paolo Tumminelli. An Italian design expert, Tumminelli also chaired the board of six curators, aesthetes, artists and designers who gave the show its creative spirit.

They included Giorgetto Giugiaro and Stephen Bayley, and all six chose a car each as the heart of the Grand Basel’s offering.

As if to reinforce Grand Basel as not-another-car-show, Tumminelli and German design professor Michael Erlhoff took a whimsical approach – choosing a rusty Fiat Panda and 1:87 scale model cars to grace their frames.

The other half of the cars on display were entered by their owners. They still have to comply with the values of the show, but the owners will pay a charge for exhibiting. Autocar understands that’s going to be “well under four figures” and the parallel is the consignment fee now charged by auction houses to sellers, now typically £1500.