- 23 Dec 2016
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Memorable Motoring Shows and Festivals
If a genie escaped a bottle and granted you a wish to attend any three unforgettable motoring festivals in the world in 2017, they really ought to come from this list.
1. Woodward Dream Cruise
19 August 2017 in Detroit, Michigan, USA
What to expect: It's not a motor show, it's a car cruise. And it's not just about 'Murican muscle cars rumbling leisurely down Woodward Avenue (the scene of the first paved mile of roadway in the US), it's an endless parade of custom cars, street rods, rat rods and specialty vehicles. There's no entry fee and anyone can partake.
Why it's unique: Of course, in America, everything must be the biggest. No wonder it's the world's largest one-day automotive event, drawing over 1.5 million people and 40 000 classic cars from around the globe, sometimes packed eight lanes wide in places around the Motor City.
What was there last year: Everything from classic '60s SL roadsters to the very latest Mercedes-AMG GT S. Over there they fondly call them "European exotics".
"It's all about cars, cruisin', showing off, partying, hanging out, entertainment, people watching and being seen, and more cars." – Madman Mike, radio DJ
2. Goodwood Festival of Speed
29 June – 2 July 2017 in Goodwood, Sussex, UK
What to expect: Motorsport royalty and celebrities rub shoulders as the world's rarest heritage cars, most glamorous classic cars and fastest supercars all gather together in the grounds of Goodwood House.
Why it's unique: The main attraction is the narrow 1.6 mile (2.56 km) hill-climb course affectionately known as Lord March's driveway, which sees everything from priceless classics to multimillion-pound supercars going up the hill one by one in a bid for Festival of Speed glory to the delight of throngs of fans.
What was there last year: The Mercedes-AMG GT R, aka The Beast of the Green Hell, made its world debut and Nico Rosberg demoed the Mercedes 2014 F1 championship-winning W05 Hybrid.
"It's so exciting to go up the hill, because of all the people standing there watching and applauding us." – Nico Rosberg, F1 World Champion
3. Pebble Beach Automotive Week
20 – 27 August 2017 in Pebble Beach, Monterey, California
What to expect: The Concours d'Elegance sees the biggest US collectors in the world open up their vaults and descend on the amazing seafront fairway setting of the Pebble Beach Golf Links. The 200-strong enclave of classics features in some instances one-off, coach-built commissions of already impossibly rare cars. No wonder it's by invite only.
Why it's unique: If schmoozing with the automotive elite isn't for you, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway – the second major event of Monterey Car Week – is for enthusiasts of a different kind. Best described as "a motor-racing museum springing to life", 550 of the rarest racers in the world do what they were originally intended to do – take to the track.
What was there last year: The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 debuted on Pebble Beach's manicured Concept Lawn.
"The essence of the event is that strong character survives the times." – Nic Waller, event organiser
4. Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
21-28 April 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
What to expect: The microchip taken to the zenith of its powers – the latest cutting-edge tech in automotive digitisation. Autonomous driving, electromobility, connectivity and the Internet of Things – these are no longer just techy buzz words. The cars shown here carry the themes that will inform motoring in the (not too distant) future.
Why it's unique: Over the past three years the industry has awakened to CES being not just an electronics trade show but a de facto motor show, with manufacturers jumping in headlong to remain relevant in a rapidly shifting digital world. There's stuff on display that's simply too highbrow for the Cobo Centre in Detroit.
What was there last year: Mercedes-Benz showcased the Concept IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile) that originally debuted in Frankfurt. The shape-shifting concept is all about extracting maximum efficiency and performance courtesy of a svelte 0.19 drag coefficient.
"The single most important luxury goods of the 21st century are private space and time. Autonomously driving cars by Mercedes-Benz, like you'll find at CES, shall offer exactly that." – Dieter Zetsche, Daimler chairman
5. SA Festival of Motoring (SAFoM)
30 August – 3 September 2017 at Kyalami GP Circuit, Johannesburg, SA
What to expect: Can't attend any of the above in 2017? No problem – there's a world-class festival happening right here on our doorstep. Forget the old Johannesburg Show's un-air-conditioned halls and static displays at Nasrec – SAFoM is all about an adrenaline-laced atmosphere as tyres squeal and engines gun at full throttle.
Why it's unique: Key to the festival is its dynamism. Why look at a car on a stand when you can rather hear and see it carve up Kyalami's 4.52 km of asphalt? Or better still, go for a passenger ride yourself. Here precious road metal and potent race machines take to the circuit in equal measure. Yes, a race does eventually break out.
What was there last year: Mercedes-Benz brought a bona fide AMG GT 3 race car in 2016, driven by none other than Mercedes-Benz ambassador and former F1 racer David Coulthard. Not only a unique experience for his passengers but for him as well, as he'd never raced at Kyalami during his career.
"The facilities are first class, more than capable of hosting Formula 1 and every other major motor series. It's an exciting place to race."– David Coulthard, Mercedes-Benz ambassador