What do you think of when you hear the words “motor show”? Crowded stuffy halls, loud music, plastic bags full of brochures and memory sticks, and the brief chance to sit in a new Renault Clio before a seven-year old pushes you out the way, perhaps?
Spending the afternoon at Salon Prive (which is difficult to say without putting on a ridiculous faux French accent) shows that motor shows don’t necessarily have to be like that.
Since the main British show appears to have died a death the organisers of smaller events like these have been snapping up the chance to offer UK debuts and gain a name for themselves.
But while Goodwood’s Festival of Speed has now got unrivalled custody of the enthusiast side of things and Motoexpo in Canary Wharf gets a huge amount of support from manufacturers, where does this leave Salon Prive?
For a start it is £125 a ticket to get in, there is only a smattering of manufacturers here, the actual UK exclusives are to be honest a little thin on the ground, and it’s difficult to get to by car, with no actual parking on site,
But this isn’t the end for Salon Prive, because if you do happen to spend a day here you can’t help but have a good time.
For a start there are few places where you can walk up to an Aston Martin One-77, open the door and climb in. The same could be said of the new Jaguar XJ and pretty much every other car here. When you climb out of these cars you may want to grab a word with one of the people that designed it and find out a bit more.
Throw in a lunch of barbequed lobster, afternoon tea, and all the champagne you want, all for free after you’ve bought a ticket and it suddenly seems all the more appealing. There is a relaxed, uncrowded and chatty atmosphere, which is all designed to make it a stress-free enjoyable day, instead of one where you try to fit in as much as possible.
The strategy may well be working too, because although it may not seem like Salon Prive is taking on the big players as far as car events are concerned, attendance is 26 per cent up on last year and almost at capacity of 3500 people across three days.
A country club motor show in Fulham may not sound like your typical motor show and it’s not. But Salon Prive, which is in its fourth year now, proves there is always room for something different.