“ Takes place in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. There will be two stages for live bands and performances and an exhibition hall show casing everything imaginable for your car. „
Please note that this review has been posted on other review sites under the name of Yackers1. If you are interested then there is a sample of photographs on the other sites that show the vehicles in their true glory - although I admit I am no professional photographer and only have a point and shoot digital camera. (Really should get on the BigCs page and do something about this!).
The East of England show ground is situated just outside Peterborough and is clearly sign posted from all major trunk roads. Once you turn off the main trunk roads the road to the show ground is quite small, although it is a two-way road, and it looks as though you are being directed to a housing estate. Just before the housing estate you turn off on to the driveway that leads to the main entrance.
As we drove through the gate there was what appeared to be a random photographer taking pictures of my friend's car. Whilst he didn't notice this (he says it was because he was concentrating so hard on driving but we all know the real reason - he just isn't that observant) I thought this was a bit weird. If we were in a modified vehicle, or something special then fair enough, but to be a bog standard Vauxhall Astra just didn't ring right. Never the less we carried on past and up to the car park.
The car park was free, which is always a bonus especially since it appears that wherever motorists go they are stung with extortionate parking charges and actually receive very little in return (rant over...).
The car park was also huge, not surprising given the showground is used for some very large events that attract thousands of people, which meant there were not only loads of spaces available but these were also close to the entrance. In normal circumstances I don't mind a walk but since it was the hottest day of the year (to date) I was more than happy to be so close. Besides, it's good to be lazy sometimes.
Tickets were £15, which whilst not extortionate are not that cheap, especially if it was a family day out. Usually there are concessions for children but I didn't see any signs stating this. Since there were just the two of us any concessions didn't apply so we didn't really take that much notice.
We booked tickets in advance so we could just walk straight in (I hate queuing) although on arrival there were no queues so it was a pretty pointless exercise. The lack of queues surprised me especially since we arrived at 9.45 am, which I considered to be quite late. I was half expecting to be waiting over an hour to get parked but this obviously was not the case. I guess that the modified car scene is not as big as I thought.
The East of England Showground consists of a large expanse of open grassland with a mini road network running through it that is used for a whole variety of events including concerts, festivals, game/country pursuit show and motor shows amongst much more.
The venue is clean, tidy and obviously well maintained. I wouldn't say it is impressive (how can an area of grass land be anything special?) but it is attractive and a 'nice' place.
Dotted around the showground there are numerous buildings and barns. These are used for a variety of different things, depending upon what is actually happening at the time. During the modified car show the buildings were used for an indoor go-kart track and a place to demonstrate the rolling road and measure the power output of cars.
****The main building****
The middle of the main building was some very special display cars that were so heavily modified it was actually quite difficult to tell what they started life out as (they included body kits, bigger wheels, fully customised interiors, play stations, TVs, awesome stereo and speaker sets, customised paint jobs, customised graphics etc.). Whilst many were not to my taste and perhaps a bit over the top, I couldn't help but be impressed with the time, effort and money that had been spent on each vehicle.
All of these vehicles were roped off and it was not possible to get that close to them, which was a shame but I guess this was to be expected. I know that if it was my car on display I wouldn't want loads of grubby hand prints all over my paintwork but then surely letting the public get up close and personal to the vehicles (within reason) is what it is all about? Is this not the ego boost that these car owners are after? Whilst there was the opportunity to view and photograph these cars there was not the opportunity to ask questions since the owners only appeared at ad-hoc times and when they were present I found all of them to be unapproachable and unwilling to take the time to speak. I actually found this very disappointing, especially given the total change in atmosphere outside the main building.
Around the perimeter of the main building there were a few trade stands selling automotive related products. In my opinion the most impressive stand had to be that of Vibe, a company that predominantly manufactures speakers. The stand was huge and there were loads of speakers on display, they had loads of different demonstration vehicles that kicked out enough decibels to make your ears bleed. The most impressive thing had to be the bass tunnel, which as its name suggests was a small tunnel that was full of subwoofer speakers (i.e. the ones that are used to produce bass). The public were invited to go and stand in the tunnel and listen to music tracks that were predominantly bass. Being in the tunnel was a strange experience, and one that I won't forget or ever repeat. I could feel my throat and heart pounding and it felt as though my ears were bleeding. It was not good.
****In the actual show ground****
All around the show ground there were groups of car enthusiasts, and their cars, from all over the country. From as far south as Cornwall to as far North as Aberdeen and from as far as the West Country to the Norfolk Coast there were people from all over the UK. The groups and their cars were spread all around the showground and the general public were able to get up close and personal to all the cars.
In my opinion, these were the real enthusiasts. Whilst the cars in the main building were special and had a lot of money spent on them it was clear that they were never driven on the road. There is no way that 99% of the cars inside would get through an MOT (they are so heavily modified) let alone insured. In addition the owners of the cars in the main building were very pretentious and unwilling to talk.
Outside in the grounds it was a different story. You only had to look at a car and the owner would come running across and start telling you about their pride and joy. You could ask them anything and you'd get a straight answer, as well as tips on modifying, where to source specific parts, where to get a good paint job etc. etc. The whole place was a field of information.
A lot of the car enthusiasts look unapproachable and quite 'thug' like and mean. A lot of them are large, covered in tattoos and have so many piercings they look like a human pin cushion. You should never let appearances cloud your judgement since all of the individuals I spoke to were exceptionally friendly and not at all threatening. I am ashamed to admit that I let appearances get in the way and it is something that I will not do in the future.
The range of cars was very diverse and included;
i) Old Skool Classics. The ones we wanted when we were at high school and college but were just too young to be able to buy them. In addition these were cars that you just couldn't get insurance for as they were often pinched, despite not being that fast. Old Skool classics include XR2s, XR3s, Astra GTEs, Nova GTEs, Golf GTIs, Cosworths, RS turbos and the like. Whilst these cars are now considered dinosaurs it is a genre of car I really like, probably due to nostalgic reasons, although I would never buy one now, even if I could find one in mint condition.
ii) Japanese Imports. Cars such as the Nissan Skyline, 200SX, 300SX, Toyota MR2s, Celica turbos, Lexus Soarer etc.
iii) British cars such as MGs
iv) Rally cars, such as Subaru Imprezzas, Mitsubishi Evolutions and Toyota Celicas.
v) Exotica such as Porsches, Ferraris and my personal favourite, the Lamborgini (although it does look strange in lime green).
As you'd expect the quality of cars varied greatly. There were some that were real heaps that shouldn't even be on the road to some amazing cars (the 2004 Lamborgini springs to mind - a super car that most of us can only ever dream of driving let alone owning one) and everything else in between.
Whilst most of the cars weren't really my thing I couldn't help but be impressed by the finished product. Some of them were very well done and it was evident that the owner had invested a lot of time, effort and money in modifying their car to such an extent. I would love to fell that passionate about something that I dedicate my whole life to it. Whilst the finished product looks very good, and in many cases you can't tell what sort of car it actually is, at the end of the day it is still just a Saxo or a Punto. Some of the owners I had spoken to had spent in excess of £25K and they had managed to minimize costs by doing the labour work themselves as far as possible (it is labour that usually costs the money) so they would have spent even more if they got a third party to do all the work.
The modified car scene is portrayed to be glamorous and as such, there is a large abundance of ladies. "Fantastic" I hear all you alpha males cry, however, in reality it is not that great. I admit that there were some stunningly beautiful ladies there and seeing these draped over exotic cars does tend to get one hot under one's collar. However, there were a lot of ladies there that should really bow out gracefully and learn to grow old gracefully. I saw a lot of mutton dressed as lamb and whilst some people see no problem with this I do find it uncomfortable, especially when it is rammed down your throat. I am a firm believer in live and let live and if older ladies want to dress in skimpy outfits then I say go for it, providing you retain your modesty and don't flaunt it in front of me. There was one specific cleaning stand (I am not going to mention which one) where the 'show girls' were mature, dressed in skimpy clothing and proceeded to hunt down every male that dared walk past. I did not agree with this.
The dress code appeared to be high heels, fish net tights, a skirt (or belt) that barely covered the butt cheeks (and proceeded to ride up with every movement), a thong and a bra top. Personally, I think this look is a bit slutty and considering it is basically a family establishment with lots of children running around I thought it was a bit bad. If I were a parent I would feel uncomfortable having sex rammed in my child's face especially when I couldn't do anything about it.
Whilst the show girls dressing in the above manner is to be expected, after all they are being paid for it, I noticed that many ladies who were there with their club or their boyfriend's club were also dressed in this way. I was quite surprised by this but assume this is just the modern day 'cruising' scene way of life.
Many of the ladies were dressed too provocatively but I must also point out that there were stands whereby the ladies were dressed to please but not showing off butt cheeks, boobs or too much flesh at all. I would even go as far as to say that these ladies looked stylish and in doing so attracted a lot of the attention. Probably more than that of the half naked girls. In my opinion the most sexily dressed ladies were found on the Fusion stand.
Walking around it was easy to tell that the Max Power Girls and co live for the camera. Walking behind a couple of girls I was amazed that every time some random bloke pulled out a camera they stopped, put their arm round each other whilst a friend of the photographer jumped in the shot and gave a fake smile. They would then carry on walking. Something I did notice that all the girls gave fake and force smiles. None of them appeared happy, but then being a piece of eye candy and the centre of attention must get boring eventually. In addition some of the comments they were receiving were, in my opinion, a bit too much, especially given it was a bit of a 'family' establishment.
Whilst it is nice to have a dream girl draped over a dream car there are times when I was hoping that the girls would step away from the car and let the car enthusiast take a picture of the vehicle on its own. Unfortunately, this never happened. There was a Ferrari 348 that I really wanted a picture of but it always had a bikini-clad girl sitting in it, on it, washing it, polishing it or doing something else to the car. The owner was running around offering blokes the chance to have their picture taken with the car and the girls for £10. There was no way the owner was going to let the car sit there without one of his models in the way so I never did get my shot.
The cars are obviously the main source of entertainment but there were other things in addition including:
Music stage. Throughout the whole day Kiss FM were on the stage playing tunes to entertain the crowd. The music was loud but it was not so obtrusive that it was deafening and you didn't need to shout at people either. It provided good back ground music, although it did have to do battle with several cars giving demonstrations of what their stereo systems could do as well as marquees belonging to different clubs, all of which seemed to have their own mobile disco units as well.
Stunt bikes. A pair of stunt motorcyclists gave a demonstration of wheelies (most of them whilst standing on the seat), stoppies, donuts and burnouts on Kawasaki ZX-6Rs. The skill and balance these riders possess is just awesome and the way they can just throw their bikes around is simply awesome. I also learned that in order to perform their stunts the rear tyre was inflated to a meagre 10psi and the rear sprocket was changed to increase the acceleration.
Radio controlled car demonstrations. Members of a local club to it in turns to race their radio controlled cars around a track and make it jump over some ridiculously high ramps. Un fortunately the public could not have a go but it was quite interesting to watch. I never realised just how fast the petrol-powered radio controlled model cars are, how high they could jump or how tough they actually are.
Dyno testing. Members of the general public could book their cars on to the rolling road in order to see how much power they actually produce. Now car enthusiasts can actually show some hard evidence to prove that their car is pushing out the 200 odd horsepower they claim. We were lucky to witness the most powerful car of the weekend, a Ford Mustang, which pushed out 450 horsepower. To put this in perspective a 1.6 Focus pushes out just over 100 horsepower (obviously depending upon the actual model).
Go-karting. All attendees had the opportunity to race a go-kart round an indoor track set up in one of the out buildings. Obviously this was not free, but it gave the groups of enthusiasts the opportunity to confirm who is the best/fastest driver without taking to the public highway to do it.
Monster truck show. Unfortunately we did not get to see this since the organisers had scheduled it for 4 o'clock in the afternoon and we had left by then. I thought it would have been better if there were two shows, one in the late morning and a further show in the afternoon, but hey ho.
I was surprised by the lack of trade stands at the show. There were a few selling things like car spares (although the amount was very limited), model cars and toys, framed pictures of cars, clothing, car cleaning stuff, sun glasses and other trinkets but there weren't many.
When I go to bike shows there are hundreds of stalls and stands selling a whole variety of items including boots, gloves, leathers, performance parts, number plates, toys, games, music and CDs, casual clothing and loads of other bike related products. At most bike shows it is possible to spend a few hours looking around all the stalls, but this was not the case here.
One thing I did notice was a stall that was selling copied CD's. What made it even more funny is that the stall holder had made no attempt to burn the image on to the disc to make it look authentic. These CD's were the typical gold coloured one (like you'd get in Tesco for about 10 pence each) that had the name of the album scribbled on it in black marker pen. There were no cases but the discs were given in a clear plastic sleeve. I was amazed that this stallholder could do this but no one batted an eyelid.
The choice of food was quite diverse and included fish and chips, different types of burgers (beef, bacon, chicken etc.), curry, hog roast, Chinese and sandwiches. At these events food prices are usually inflated and the captive audience have to put up with them or go hungry.
I was expecting the food to be expensive but the prices were simply extortionate. A small tray of chips was £2, a small tub of curry sauce was £1, a burger was £3 (obviously cheese was extra, as was bacon) and fish and chips were £6. The quality of the food was quite poor, well the burger and chips I had was, and it did not represent good value for money.
The curry and the Chinese was left in bain maries. Most of the dishes had a skin on and it looked absolutely foul, and like it had been cooked for quite a while. Whilst I enjoy curry and Chinese food it does affect me at the best of times so there was no way I was going to try the food at this show. I think it would have absolutely destroyed me and my guts.
One thing I did notice was a distinct lack of tables where you could sit and eat your food. I hate standing up since it is not only uncouth but I find I also 'horse down' my food and feel sick for a few minutes before being starving again.
Like the food the price of the drinks was also inflated. Bottles were £1.50 although most of the stalls had sold out of everything except for water by midday. I appreciate it was hot but I think this was poor planning on the organiser's part as to run dry is not acceptable. One thing I did notice is that the price of canned drinks increased from £1 to £1.50 from around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I thought this was very naughty but I guess there is nothing the organiser's could do since the food stalls had paid for their pitch and they could charge what they wanted to. Besides, in addition to the pitch fee the organisers get a percentage of the profits so they would have shot themselves in the foot if they had enforced a price reduction.
I expected there to be some very nice cars, some absolute heaps and everything in between. I was also expecting to see lots of scantily clad ladies draped over cars in constantly being photographed. All these expectations were met.
What I did not expect was the volume of music. In the main hall the Fusion stand was kicking out music, as was the Max Power stand and there was even a radio station stand to boot. All of these were playing different kinds of music at a great volume, which wasn't pleasing to the ears. This situation was made even worse as many of the cars were also playing music loudly in order to demonstrate the power, volume and clarity of their stereo systems.
If you are looking to get somewhere quiet then you can't even go outside since you are faced with exactly the same thing with individual cars, the Kiss stand and mobile disco units of all the individual clubs fighting for a piece of the action.
****Would I recommend it?****
If you have a passion for cars then I would highly recommend the East of England modified car show. Make sure you take a camera to photograph some of the cars since it is almost impossible to describe just what lengths some of the owners have gone to in modifying their cars.
There are scantily clad women everywhere, which even for an alpha male that enjoys the fairer sex does get boring, and sex is rammed in your face. Because of this and the comments that are liberally thrown around I would not recommend it for children, although many parents do not appear to share my views on this.
Refreshments are very expensive and I would strongly suggest taking your own. Not only will it be cheaper it will also be nutritionally better and may actually fill you up.
I found that we had looked at everything within a few hours, so it is not all day entertainment.
I think to get the most out of this modified car show you need to be the owner of a modified car and a member of a local 'cruising' group. You can then drive your car to the show (along with all your buddies), park your car up and clean it in preparation for all the admirers. After that it is simply a jolly.
Looking around did make me wish I had a modified car and was part of the scene. However, reality soon kicked in and I soon realised what a money pit these cars are, how much time and effort they take to keep them looking good and that that you need to devote your whole life to them. Unfortunately I do not have the passion, dedication or inclination to see this through. In addition you spend all that money and at then end of the day you still own a Saxo, Punto, Civic or what ever else and you will never recover that money. Unless you spend an awful lot of money and get something exotic (such as a Porsche, Ferrari or the like) a modified car is a wolf in sheep's clothing and if you can only invest £25K why not get something decent and standard in the first case? That said, I am still glad I experienced it and I will definitely go again next year.
If you reached this far then thanks very much for reading, I appreciate it was a long review but I felt I needed to capture everything.