And it certainly offered something a little bit different from the norm. Whereas international motor shows are full of musical fanfares, glitzy lights and big build-ups to new model reveals, the British Show was geared towards the whole family experience with something for everyone.
There were the indoor arenas with lots of static displays, but there was also a plethora of activity going on outside for entertainment value.
The British Army Lightning Bolts parachuted into the main outdoor arena as a plane flew low over the airfield and that was a daily attraction that wowed the crowds.
Whatever your passion regarding motoring, there was somewhere that would appeal from the classic car zone, supercar paddock, stunt displays, a wall of death display, truck driving, kids karting and even an area where youngsters could book their first driving lesson with fully qualified instructors in a safe environment.
At the heart of the show was the Live Stage, hosted by CAR SOS Duo Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend, who interviewed a variety of celebrities and automotive influencers, including TV star Vicki Butler-Henderson, along with cricketing celebrity Phil Tufnell who was his usual entertaining self on the stage. And if you were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, you could bump into the Stig, who was his/her usual quiet self.
The main hall had a wealth of manufacturers showing their latest vehicles off, including the premier of SsangYong’s latest Musso pick-up which certainly attracted plenty of attention throughout. Other carmakers included Volvo, Subaru, Cupra, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia and SEAT.
Meanwhile, TV motoring pundit and Mr Wheeler Dealer himself, Mike Brewer hosted the outdoor Live Arena. Over four days, the arena saw a mixture of thrills and spills, as well as parades and comparisons of some of the star cars at the show.
Twice daily, Paul Swift’s stunt team put on a stunt extravaganza, featuring sideways and two-wheel driving and there was a multi-million-pound collection of cars from Premier GT. These included a 2016 Ferrari 458 Spider, 2019 Lamborghini Aventador, 2018 Porsche 911 and a 2016 McLaren 650s.
Not surprisingly, this area was always busy. These sensational vehicles could be viewed in static form or seen in action at regular intervals in the Live Arena when the volume was really cranked up.
And with the future in mind, there was a hall dedicated to the world of electrified motoring with a number of specialists offering guidance and top tips on anything electric. Topics included debunking EV myths, servicing EVs, the difference between BEV, PHEV, HEV and MHEV, along with car tech made simple. This arena was constantly busy throughout the opening day and was well supported by manufacturers with a number of display vehicles from VW, Jaguar, Tesla and MINI to name just a few.
Continuing with the EV theme, Ford was present with its Go Electric roadshow unit that tours the country offering advice on charging cars, choosing the correct EV, maintaining battery life and plenty more besides.
The British Motor Show CEO Andy Entwistle said: “We were absolutely blown away with how busy we were on our opening day and with the reception of the show in general, with some brilliant feedback from our guests.
“We wanted to reinvent the motor show concept, make it more family-friendly, more engaging and more interactive and we have achieved just that.”
And the people we spoke to on the opening day were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The Johnson family from Kent said their highlight so far was the stunt display and supercar parade, while John and Maria Mitchell, from London, were keen to learn as much as possible about the EV scene with a view to purchasing a car in the coming months.
We caught up with Craig Cheetham, British Motor Show Press and PR manager, who was delighted with the way the show was panning out.
He said: “This show is all about a passion for cars and looking at motoring from all angles. It’s not just new cars, although there are plenty of those too, but about making it a family day out.
“We are expecting 50,000 people to come through the gates over the four days and have sold lots of family tickets costing £37 for four people which is excellent value.
“The show was planned for last year, then COVID struck and it was even touch and go whether we could go ahead this year.
“But the venue was superb with no penalties for changing dates and our sponsors have been excellent throughout too.
“We have a five-year commitment to making this an annual event and it’s just great to have a national motor show again after such a long absence.”
Each day, the event was brought to a close with a round of car football – The British Motor Show’s very own celebrity rendition of the Euro 2020 football championship final, with Fiats and MINIS representing England and Italy. And this time, England hopefully won’t lose on penalties!
To find out more about the show on the Hampshire/Surrey border, book tickets or keep up with the latest news, visit thebritishmotorshow.live