Monday March 21, 2016
My top moments from the 2016 Practical Classics Restoration & Classic Car Show.
By David Lofts, Marketing Manager at Lancaster Insurance Services.
I must confess that this was my first Classic Car show as an exhibitor – I’m usually there as a punter, but thanks to organisers Practical Classics magazine, it was nothing like any job I’ve ever known. And here’s why!
Love at first sight.
In a show that featured over 700 classics it was hard to know where to look, and the all too familiar feelings of: ‘I wonder if I can afford that?’ or ‘If only I could sell one of my children’ were just as prevalent as an exhibitor as they were when I was a visitor.
Cars were judged, cars were admired and cars were voted on, with quality being very much the order of the day. The amount of work we classic enthusiasts do, to keep our prized classics up to scratch never ceases to amaze me, but out of 700 plus cars in total there was just one that I couldn’t seem to get enough of.
The highlight of my show, in original Regency Red and looking for all the world like she was about to leap off the line was the Daimler SP250 Owners Club exhibit, pictured. Words are not enough, and my wife will be eternally grateful that it wasn’t for sale.
It’s not jumble, it’s treasure.
So there we were, around 50 of us, standing three deep in front of the biggest collection of vintage car badges I’ve ever seen. As I reached out to pick up a tarnished but still serviceable red and chrome Alvis badge, albeit only to check the price, a hand beat me to it, accompanied by the question; ‘How much mate?’
The vendor was sharp – ‘Sixty to you pal – and I can throw in an owners’ club badge for another fifty.’
“Do us the pair for a ton and you’ve got a deal,’ came the swift reply. Cash changed hands and the deal was done. That’s what it’s all about, and Wheeler Dealers’ Mike Brewer would most certainly approve.
Join the club
There were over 120 clubs at the show including our own stalwart, the MG Owners Club, who excelled themselves both on the Lancaster Insurance stand, where they were busy restoring our 1969 Mini Super Deluxe, and on their own stand as well. The official Lancaster Classic Car Insurance National Car Club of the Year award went to the excellent Volvo Owners Club, but in terms of vehicles on show and the following of gentlemanly pursuits the club that did it for me was the Riley Owners Club. Their stand reminded me of every garage I encountered as a youngster, from the rusting body shell to an immaculately restored early 50’s (I think) RMB sedan. A beautifully presented piece of nostalgia that had clearly been put together with great care and meticulous attention to detail.
What do you mean, you ‘found’ it?
Barn finds, garden finds and even ‘something from the shed’, the barn find stand was a huge opportunity for resto fans young and old to get stuck in to some serious weekend work. Every vehicle on show would have proved too much of a challenge for me but thankfully there are enough skilled and dedicated people to take every one of the 25 or so cars on show and return them to their former glory. And we’ll hopefully see at least some of them back on form at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show at the NEC this November. We can’t wait!
Practical Classics Winners
No classic car restoration show would be complete without an awards dinner. So on the Saturday evening the great and the good from the world of classic restorations, gathered to reward and congratulate winners great and small for their contributions to our community in a gala event hosted by Discovery TV’s Mike Brewer. The awards were sponsored by Tourism Ireland, who are currently working on fulfilling a tongue-in-cheek deal made with Mike that will see all 200 attendees on a ferry to the Emerald Isle, courtesy of Stena Lines, later this year.
A full rundown of the winners can be found here: WINNERS
Restorer of the year
Proving that you don’t need to have a flashy motor to win ‘Restorer of the Year’, the 2016 top spot went to Mr. James Cribb, for the amazingly detailed and near-perfect restoration of his late wife’s Austin Metro City. In a class that included some stiff competition from a stunning E Type, a rare Triumph Stag Estate and a Lotus Esprit, James’ Metro, small and perfectly restored, took the ‘Top Trump’. Well done James!
Pride of Ownership
Without doubt the most emotionally charged event of the show, the Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership crown was taken by a 1969 Ford Capri 1.6 GT XLR, shown by her proud owner Mr.Stuart Turp. Stuart bought his Capri in 1989, twenty years after it rolled off the Dagenham production line, and has restored it himself. This is his eleventh Capri, and taking first prize in the coveted Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership event made Stuart’s day. His acceptance speech was both touching and heartfelt, and contained some sage advice for would be restorers: “You’ll need plenty of money, plenty of patience - and an understanding wife”. Amen to that!
It’s business, but it’s personal too.
One of the great things about spending time on the Lancaster Insurance stand was the opportunity to talk to customers about their cars, insuring them and the challenges restorers face on a day to day basis that would make most mere mortals run for the hills. Sure - it’s always great to hear how well we’re doing, and compliments on our service were received in abundance, but it also gave me the opportunity to talk to a few customers who weren’t quite so happy, and to learn how we can make improvements to benefit all.
Two characters stand out from my time spent on the stand, and what characters they were. The first, let’s call him ‘Steve’ was enquiring about insuring a new project on a ‘laid-up’ basis. The body of his Wolsey Six was with a paint shop while the rest of the car was in his garage. ‘Steve’ had a confession to make though. Laden down with bags and what looked like an axle wrapped in brown paper slung easily over his shoulder, he asked if there was any way we could help with reducing the cost of insuring his collection of five classics. He nodded sheepishly at the package on his shoulder… “I need to save some cash,” he said, in a broad Yorkshire accent. “I’ve just spent the rent on this little lot”. Stuart Turp and his understanding wife spring to mind.
And finally… my thanks must go to Mr Nitin Patel, proud new owner of a rolling VW Golf restoration who engaged me in conversation about the singing voice of Louis Armstrong as I was leaving the stand on Sunday to catch my train home. Armstrong’s voice does indeed sound like a Mk1 Golf with the silencer removed, and What A Wonderful World will never sound the same again! As a result of our conversation I managed to miss my train home, arriving a little later than planned, but all the richer for my encounter with Mr. Patel.
See you all again for the November show.