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'The Pop-Up Motor Show is a simple idea at precisely the right time'

Mike Rutherford thinks the new Pop-Up Motor Show can be the perfect way to serve the demands of Britain's car users

There has long been, and always will be, a place for cold, virtual, atmosphere-free, car-related events that folk can remotely (and partially) see and hear – but not touch, smell or feel. Long may they continue. For certain people at certain times in their busy or locked-down lives, virtually ‘attending’ via a screen on a laptop or mobile phone makes sense. 

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But don’t, whatever you do, accept the lazy lie that proper car shows attended by makers, dealers and the public are dead, buried and never coming back. Only last week in China, the world’s largest vehicle-producing country by a long way, the Beijing Motor Show was alive and kicking with its own busy press, trade, auto-parts, and public days. 

But that’s just for starters. Closer to home and on a somewhat smaller scale, the British Motor Show has been rescheduled for the Farnborough International Exhibition Centre in August next year. And across the globe there are countless other major and minor car exhibitions confirmed for 2021 (subject to the lifting or modification of pandemic restrictions, of course). 

But before then, a new and unique type of small, live, intimate automotive event has been invented, registered, trademarked and readied for launch in England this month, for the benefit of consumers and companies in the UK and overseas. It’s a simple, logical and accessible series of physical gatherings for casual or committed consumers of cars, plus car-related products and services. The first one opens its doors this month, and the name that it and subsequent events planned for other venues will go by? The Pop-Up Motor Show.   

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With so many vacant commercial properties in large shopping malls, on high streets and at edge-of-town retail parks, it’s a brilliantly simple idea at precisely the right time. Look out for these motoring-themed pop-ups arriving in cities, towns or villages near you soon – with zero entry fees for members of the public, you’ll be delighted to learn.          

The first will be staged on 6,000 sq ft of the Basingstoke Festival Place shopping, dining and leisure centre, from 16 Oct to 24 December. What will be at this initial Pop-Up Motor Show in Hampshire? Everything from all-new, rarely seen cars proudly displayed to many for the first time, to touchscreen computers that will let consumers view and order their vehicles of choice. Q&A sessions, book signings, competitions, motorsport stuff, the occasional celeb appearances and all sorts of car-related education, entertainment and info will be available, too – all washed down with obligatory tea, coffee, or soft drinks. 

The usual social-distancing and other rules have to, and will, apply. And if demand becomes too high, would be-attendees might need to book their slots in advance. Think of these pop-ups as crèches for motoring mums and dads, plus their kids who travel on the back seats of their family cars, and are the motorists of tomorrow. Collectively these car users are approximately 55 million strong and, currently, they are not being served by the traditional car-exhibition industry in Britain. The new, unique, multi-brand Pop-Up Motor Show might just be a great and cost-effective way to serve them better. 

Are you planning on attending a pop-up motor show? Let us know in the comments below...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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