Was it the Mini or the VW Beetle? Perhaps it was the Model T? Or maybe none of these… Top Gear’s James May reckons he has the answer


The Car That Changed The World: it’s a debate that rages whenever a few petrol-heads get together…

There are dozens of pretenders to the throne, all with merit. But the London Classic Car Show ­– taking place at ExCeL in London’s Docklands from 8-11 January 2015 – might just have the definitive answer.

A special exhibit at the show, curated by Top Gear star James May, will reveal no fewer than 13 cars that he believes had a profound effect on the motor car as we know it today.

Those staking a claim for top honours will be found in what James calls the ‘Hall of Obviousness’. Here there will be half a dozen significant cars including a Mini and a Model T Ford, a Beetle and the Benz Patent Motorwagen, the world’s first car from 1885.

More controversially, James adds a Ford Mustang and a Toyota Prius to that list, pointing out that the Mustang was the original muscle car while the Toyota was the car that led the hybrid revolution.


The next half dozen are more controversial still. The ‘Corridors of Bloody Mindedness’ will include some obscure and some not so obscure cars that were all real pioneers.

There’s an electric vehicle from the turn of the century… the last century that is! There’s the car that inspired the Beetle and the car that did what the Model T did, only earlier.

James also promises examples of the most significant cars ever produced in Italy and in Japan. And there’s also room for a car that’s really out of this world.

“The Hall of Obviousness is exactly that, significant cars that most people would expect to be on a list of cars that changed the world,” said James. “The cars in the Corridors of Bloody Mindedness, on the other hand, are designed to make people think again.

“It’s amazing to think that the car has always been future proof – even the earliest cars, whether powered by petrol, steam or electricity, are still running today.

“Of course, all the cars on show are my choices and are just as likely to start an argument as end one. I’ve already had a complaint from someone that the Austin Seven hasn’t been included. It’s a point of view not without merit, but… tough.”

But while the dozen ‘obvious’ and ‘bloody-minded’ cars are all strong contenders for the outright crown, none of them is The Car That Changed The World.

“As far as I am concerned, that honour belongs to something else… but I’m not going to tell you what that is. You’ll just have to come along to the London Classic Car Show to find out what it is,” he teased.

James will be taking the wraps off that car during the show’s Preview Evening, Thursday 8th January 2015.

The London Classic Car Show is the latest creation from Brand Events, the company behind all-action car shows like Top Gear Live, and will be crammed with innovative features.

Joining James May as a show curator is TV Chef James Martin, who as well as displaying his private collection of classics, will be running the James Martin Classic Café offering up ‘good, simple, grub’ to visitors.

The Grand Avenue, a motoring runway along which some of the world’s greatest cars will be driven, forms a centrepiece to the show while there will be another display celebrating the 60th anniversary of the dramatic Citroën DS and providing a first look at the new DS brand. The show will also have displays from leading classic car dealers and specialists.

Tickets are now available from the show’s official website – www.thelondonclassiccarshow.co.uk – where early bird discounts reduce the on-the-door standard entry price from £25 to just £22.

Also available are family and group tickets, premium entry packages and tickets to the Preview Evening on the opening night, Thursday 8th January. Premium Tickets, which have limited availability, will give visitors access to The Grand Avenue’s premium enclosure, a drink, complimentary cloakroom, plus a free copy of Octane magazine and the official event handbook.