Late last year, I attended the Classic Car Show at the NEC, Birmingham and had a wonderful experience that I thought should be shared… So here goes!

A Twitter follower of mine had tipped me off to head over to the Dream Rides section at the show. It was run by Sporting Bears, a charity that organises owners to take paying punters out in their exotic cars. You donate a certain amount, from £5 up to over £100, all of which goes to the charity. Each owner foots the bill for the petrol and wear and tear.

Having looked over all the cars on offer, we chose a very nice red Lancia Delta HF Integrale. We waited until our allotted time and then the beast growled up to us. Paintwork gleaming, it looked as though it was fresh out of the showroom. The owner, Nigel, welcomed us aboard and along the drive we learned that he had been the owner from new. It was bought in 1988 and lovingly looked after over the next 25 years. The Integrale even had the protective plastic on the door cards from new; it was truly a cherished car.

The power was ferocious and on the slightly damp roads around that part of the West Midlands, at times a little unnerving, especially when the Delta creaked every now and then. Unfortunately, when we tried to get back into the NEC, the roads were grid locked. Nigel simply suggested that we should “go round again” so off we went hurtling round the dual carriageway and country roads. Traffic is such an inconvenience.

I would recommend the experience to anyone; two of us went out for the drive so it was £12.50 each for about a 20 minute circuit. To feel that raw 1980s, four-wheel driven and turbocharged power was as incredible as contemporary magazines suggested. The choice of cars available was broad too, with a collection as diverse as a Rover 220 Coupe to a Rolls Royce Phantom.

Sporting Bears attends numerous car shows around the country, so it’s worth keeping an eye out so you don’t miss out on a great opportunity. The charity raised almost £35,000 from 1000 Dream Rides at the event.

For more information on Sporting Bears and to find out where they will be next click here and follow them on Twitter.

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