Classic and vintage car enthusiasts eagerly await the annual lineup of classic car exhibitions – a place where vintage treasures are showcased and like-minded individuals are eager for a meetup. These events showcase the evolution of design and technology through the decades, transporting its attendees back in time. If you’d like to know how to prepare for a classic car show, check out our helpful tips.
If you’re looking for the greatest shows, festivals, and classic racing events – look no further. Here are some of the top international classic car shows and events.
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, USA
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is not just any classic car show – it’s one of the most prestigious and highly acclaimed events in the world of classic cars. Hosted annually in the scenic Pebble Beach, California, this event is the epitome of luxury and elegance in the realm of classic car shows.
Originating in the early 1950s, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance began as a small social event paired with a road race through the winding roads of the Monterey Peninsula. It has since evolved into an internationally recognized celebration of automotive history and design. This prestigious event attracts the most rare and exquisite classic cars from across the globe, making it a magnet for car enthusiasts, collectors, and celebrities alike.
Its focus on excellence and historical accuracy sets the Pebble Beach Concours apart. Cars are not just judged on their beauty but also on their technical merit and their historical accuracy in restoration. The competition is intense, with every participant aiming to win the coveted “Best of Show” award. This honor is reserved for a car that exemplifies perfection in restoration and preservation and stands out even among the extraordinary.
For a delightful dose of nostalgia, the city of Paris hosts one of Europe’s premier classic car shows – the Retromobile. This highly anticipated event had a history that spans more than 40 years, transforming the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles into a vast exhibition space dedicated to the world of vintage cars.
The diversity and range of classic automobiles presented here are remarkable, from early 20th-century antiques to iconic models from the 1960s and 70s. Recently, Rtromobile expanded its scope by introducing a “younger timer” section, which includes cars from the 70s to 80s.
Retromobile is not just a show for car enthusiasts; it’s a cultural event that attracts a wide audience, including collectors, restorers, and people simply fascinated by automotive history. In 2015 alone, the show had over 100,000 visitors worldwide.
One of the highlights is the classic car auction, conducted by renowned auction houses, where rare and valuable automobiles go under the hammer, often achieving record-breaking prices. These auctions provide a thrilling spectacle for attendees and offer a glimpse into the high-stakes world of classic car collecting.
Additionally, Retromobile features a large market for spare parts, automobilia, and vintage car art, making it a key destination for collectors and restorers seeking rare items. The show also dedicates space to clubs and federations, allowing enthusiasts to connect, share knowledge, and celebrate their passion for vintage vehicles.
Motorclassica is the premier event in the Southern Hemisphere for classic car enthusiasts and collectors. Held in Melbourne, Australia, Motorclassica has gained a reputation for showcasing an exquisite selection of over 160 hand-picked vehicles, ranging from the 20th-century classics to the vintage luxury of the pre-war era. It is also nominated by the renowned International Historic Motoring Awards.
This prestigious annual show usually takes place in October at the iconic Royal Exhibition Building. One of the key highlights of Motorclassica is its Concours d’Elegance competition, where vehicles are judged on their condition, history, and authenticity, making it a highly sought-after title among car owners.
The show also includes an auction, where collectors can bid on a selection of rare and desirable vehicles. Motorclassica also dedicates a significant portion of its space to exhibitors and traders, offering everything from auto memorabilia and art to automotive services and products. This aspect of the show makes it a key destination for enthusiasts looking to purchase unique items or services related to classic cars.
Moreover, Motorclassica hosts a series of seminars and lectures by industry experts, providing insights into various aspects of classic car ownership and restoration. This educational component adds depth to the event, making it not just a showcase of cars but a platform for learning and appreciation of automotive history.
This event is a true feast for the eyes and offers an opportunity to see some of the world’s rarest and most beautifully restored cars.
Iola Classic Car Show, USA
Held in the charming town of Iola, Wisconsin, the Iola Classic Car Show is one of the largest classic car events in the United States. This three-day summer event transforms Iola into a hub for classic car enthusiasts, showcasing over 2,000 vintage vehicles. For more than 50 years, this annual event is a highly regarded gathering for vintage car enthusiasts in the country.
It’s not just a car show; it offers a comprehensive experience with car displays, auctions, and a swap meet for buying, selling, and trading parts. The event is marked by a vibrant atmosphere with live entertainment, making it a festive occasion for visitors and car owners alike, as they come together to celebrate their shared passion for vintage cars.
London Classic Car Show, UK
The London Classic Car Show is a prestigious event in the UK’s automotive calendar, attracting a wide array of classic car enthusiasts and collectors. Held at the prestigious Olympia London, this show features a stunning array of classic and vintage cars, celebrating the rich history of the automotive industry.
The event showcases a variety of vehicles, from iconic British classics to rare international models, making it a must-visit for car enthusiasts. Additionally, the London Classic Car Show often includes interactive exhibits, expert talks, and demonstrations, providing a comprehensive experience that goes beyond just admiring beautiful cars.
In addition to the vehicle displays, the show is known for its unique features such as the Grand Avenue – a runway where selected cars are driven, giving visitors a chance to see and hear these classic cars in action.
The event also includes curated displays focusing on specific themes or anniversaries, adding an educational aspect to the show. The London Classic Car Show is not only an exhibition but also a celebration of automotive culture, offering a blend of nostalgia, elegance, and a deep appreciation for the history and craftsmanship of classic cars.
Auto Shanghai, China
Also known as the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, Auto Shanghai is a significant automotive event, not just in China but on a global scale. Held biennially in Shanghai, it is one of the world’s largest auto shows, showcasing a wide array of vehicles, including classic cars, the latest in modern automotive technology, concept cars, and new energy vehicles.
Auto Shanghai has become a key event where industry giants unveil new models and showcase technological advancements, making it a hotspot for media and car enthusiasts alike. The classic car section of Auto Shanghai is particularly notable, offering a glimpse into the automotive past amidst cutting-edge innovations.
The appeal of Auto Shanghai extends beyond its role as a showcase for new models and technology. It serves as a barometer for the automotive industry’s trends and directions, particularly in the Asian market. The show provides insights into the preferences and demands of one of the world’s largest car markets, making it an essential event to attend for industry analysts and car manufacturers.
Also, Auto Shanghai includes interactive experiences, seminars, and conferences where industry leaders discuss current challenges and future developments in the automotive world. The classic car segment of the show, while smaller compared to the modern vehicle displays, offers a nostalgic journey through the history of automobiles.
Woodward Dream Cruise, USA
A quintessentially American event, the Woodward Dream Cruise celebrates the country’s love affair with cars. Unlike the upscale Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Woodward Dream Cruise is a grassroots event that has a distinctively inclusive and nostalgic vibe.
Originating in 1995 as a small fundraiser to raise money for a soccer field in Ferndale, Michigan, it quickly grew into the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing around 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars from all over the globe each year.
The event takes place along a 16-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue, a historic road in the Detroit metropolitan area known as America’s first highway and a central scene of the 1950s and 1960s street cruising culture. This legendary avenue, which once served as a proving ground for the designs of the auto industry’s heyday, becomes a vibrant, throbbing artery of automotive history during the cruise.
The event is a family-friendly affair, with no admission fee, making it accessible to everyone from hardcore car enthusiasts to casual onlookers. The streets are lined with food vendors, live music, and various entertainment.
Chantilly Arts et Élégance Richard Mille, France
If you have a taste for the finer things in life, this is the car show for you. Possibly the most civilized classic car show you’ll ever know, the Chantilly Arts et Élégance Richard Mille focuses on the elegance of the cars, the people and its surroundings.
Set against the backdrop of the renowned French chateau, the show offers a serene and luxurious atmosphere, distinguishing it from the more high-energy car events.. Attendees can enjoy a variety of activities beyond the car displays, including equestrian shows, fashion parades, art classes, and even classic boat rides.
Amidst these cultured activities, the show presents an exquisite collection of classic automobiles, showcasing some of the greatest and most beautifully crafted vehicles ever made. In addition to vintage cars, the show also features the latest in automotive design with brand new concept cars and coach-built models, creating a perfect blend of past and present.
Hershey Antique Auto Show, USA
The Hershey Antique Auto Show, officially known as the AACA Eastern Division Fall Meet, is an iconic event in the world of classic automobiles, held annually in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Organized by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), it’s one of the largest antique automobile shows and flea markets in the United States. Since the mid-1950s, the event typically takes place in October and spans several days, attracting thousands of participants and visitors from across the nation and even internationally.
The show features many activities and attractions, including a massive flea market, a car corral where vintage vehicles are for sale, and a highly anticipated judged car show. The flea market is a treasure trove for enthusiasts, offering everything from rare auto parts and memorabilia to literature and collectibles, making it a haven for restorers and collectors alike.
The culmination of the Hershey Antique Auto Show is the judged car show, held on the last day of the event. This is where meticulously restored vehicles, dating back from the early 20th century to 25 years before the current year, are showcased and judged based on AACA’s rigorous standards.
Usually, the cars on display are diverse –ranging from pre-war classics to post-war American and European models, each with a story and a piece of history. The atmosphere at the show is one of celebration and appreciation of the automotive heritage, with participants often dressed in period costumes. It’s a must-visit event for anyone interested in antique cars, whether as a collector, enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys a journey through the rich history of the automobile.
Goodwood Revival, UK
The Goodwood Revival is a unique and extraordinary event in the world of classic automobiles, celebrated for its immersive experience into the golden era of motor racing. It transports attendees back in time to the 1940s, 50s, and 60s – the heyday of the Goodwood Circuit.
This prestigious event takes place annually over three days in September at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex, England. Launched in 1998 by the Earl of March, it was conceived to recreate the glory days of the circuit, which originally operated from 1948 to 1966.
Unlike other classic car shows, the Revival exclusively features racing cars and motorcycles that would have competed during the original period of the circuit’s operation. The event is famous for the racing and the period dress code, as they encourage all attendees to wear vintage attire. During the event, the Goodward estate turns into a time capsule of mid-20th-century British culture.
Beyond the races, the Revival offers a range of attractions: a vintage-style fairground, air displays featuring historic aircraft, and a ‘Revival High Street’ with shops and cafes, all designed in period style. The event also hosts a ‘Freddie March Spirit of Aviation’ exhibition, showcasing classic aircraft from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, Italy
Set against the picturesque backdrop of Lake Como in Italy, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is renowned for its celebration of splendor and elegance in automotive design. It’s an event that attracts the crème de la crème of the classic car world, including collectors, connoisseurs, and industry influencers.
Dating back to 1929, this event showcases a selection of about 50 of the most beautifully preserved and rare classic cars from around the world. The cars on display range from pre-war rarities to post-war sports and luxury models, each with its own unique story and pedigree. Unlike other classic car shows, the Concorso limits its entries, ensuring that only the most exceptional and well-preserved vehicles are showcased. This exclusivity makes the event highly anticipated and respected in the classic car community.
The highlight of the event is the award ceremony, where cars compete for the coveted ‘Best of Show’ title, decided by a panel of expert judges as well as a public vote, reflecting both professional and popular opinion.
Classic Car Show, South Africa
Held annually, typically at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, this event features various vehicles, from American muscle cars and European sports cars to classic African automobiles, making it a vibrant and colorful showcase of automotive history. It attracts a substantial crowd, as it is known for its broad appeal. The event is diverse and inclusive, catering to various tastes and interests. The show isn’t limited to just exhibitions; it also includes a range of activities like live music, food stalls, and family entertainment.
One of the standout features of The Classic Car Show is its accessibility and community focus. The event allows local car clubs and individual owners to display their prized vehicles, fostering a sense of community among South African car enthusiasts. This community aspect gives the show a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, where attendees can share stories, knowledge, and a mutual appreciation for classic cars.
Additionally, The Classic Car Show often includes exciting features like classic car auctions, where enthusiasts can bid on a range of unique and rare vehicles. These auctions not only add an element of excitement to the event but also provide a platform for collectors to find and purchase new treasures.
The show also serves an educational purpose, offering insights into the history and restoration of classic vehicles, which is particularly valuable in a region where the classic car culture is still developing.
Footman James Classic Motor Show, UK
The Footman James Classic Motor Show, hosted annually at the NEC, Birmingham, UK, is a flagship event in the classic car calendar, celebrated for its vast and varied display of vintage automobiles. This show is a highlight for car enthusiasts, drawing visitors from across the UK and beyond.
The show’s appeal lies in its extraordinary range of classic cars, featuring over a thousand vehicles from different decades of the 20th century. This diversity offers something for every taste and interest, from the elegance of pre-war luxury cars to the raw power of 1970s muscle cars. The event is a sprawling showcase, where each hall of the NEC is transformed into a different era or theme, providing attendees with a journey through the history of motoring.
Notably, the show is not just about display; it also includes live demonstrations, restoration workshops, and expert panels, offering visitors an interactive and educational experience. This makes the Footman James Classic Motor Show not only a feast for the eyes but also a hub of knowledge and learning for classic car enthusiasts.
Apart from the breathtaking array of vehicles, the Footman James Classic Motor Show stands out for its vibrant atmosphere and the unique experiences it offers. The event features a variety of attractions, including autojumble sales, where enthusiasts can find rare parts and memorabilia, and a classic car auction, where collectors can bid on rare and sought-after models.
Mille Miglia, Italy
An iconic annual event in Italy, the Mille Miglia showcases Italy’s enduring passion for classic cars and motor racing. Translating to “Thousand Miles,” this event uniquely blends a historic rally and a rolling car show, tracing a scenic route from Brescia to Rome and back. The Mille Miglia originally ran as a speed race from 1927 to 1957 and was known for its grueling challenge, covering 1000 miles of Italian roads non-stop.
Today, it has been reinvented as a regularity rally, meaning that precision and timing, rather than speed, are key. The event is exclusive to cars that either participated in or would have been eligible for the original races, making it a moving museum of automotive history. For those watching, the Mille Miglia is a spectacle like no other.
Participating in or witnessing the Mille Miglia is an unforgettable experience. The event captures the romance and allure of vintage racing, where the beauty of classic cars is matched only by the backdrop of Italy’s stunning scenery. The atmosphere is electric, with participants often dressed in period attire.
Over three days, drivers navigate through picturesque Italian landscapes, passing through quaint villages, bustling towns, and historic cities, all while being cheered on by enthusiastic crowds. The Mille Miglia is more than a car race; it’s a cultural phenomenon that captures the spirit of a bygone era of motor racing, and the Italian public’s adoration for it is palpable. If you want to try attending the Mille Miglia, you better know what to prepare for a classic car rally.
La Carrera Panamericana, Mexico
Now, take the excitement, atmosphere, speed, and danger of the Mille Miglia and double them – you get La Carrera Panamericana. This event, which is one of the most exhilarating and challenging classic car races in the world, is held annually in Mexico.
Starting in the early 1950s, this event was initially established to celebrate the completion of the Pan-American Highway, and it quickly gained fame as one of the most dangerous and demanding road races. Although the original race ran only until 1954, it was revived in 1988 as a rally for classic cars, maintaining the spirit and excitement of the original event.
The race spans approximately 3000 kilometers, traversing Mexico’s diverse and stunning landscapes. It’s typically held in October and attracts a wide range of competitors, from professional drivers to passionate amateurs. The vehicles participating are exclusively classic models dating from 1940 to 1965.
The cars typically featured here are not the classy Ferraris but the wild 1950s American models, known for their robust build and flamboyant livery. The atmosphere of La Carrera Panamericana is intense and electrifying, like the famed Mille Miglia, but with a distinctly Mexican flavor. The event is not just a race; it’s a cultural phenomenon that brings together communities along the route.
Classic car shows are more than mere gatherings for showcasing vintage automobiles. They are grand celebrations of automotive history and culture, bringing together enthusiasts, collectors, and admirers from all corners of the globe. The charm of these classic car shows lies in their ability to transport us back in time – giving us a glimpse of the past while allowing us to appreciate the innovations of the present. Whether you’re a seasoned collector, an automotive enthusiast, or simply a curious observer, these classic car shows offer an enriching and unforgettable experience.