Thursday November 17, 2016
Written by Andy Roberts
Virtually everyone who visited the Classic Motor Show last weekend will have almost certainly bestowed their own ‘Car of the Show’ award on exhibits that captured the eye and the emotions.
As the theme for this year is Heroes and Heroines, I attended the NEC with the idea of finding a vehicle that truly summarised the ethos of the occasion but given the richness and sheer variety of stands this initially looked to be Mission Impossible; The Birmingham Years.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hero as ‘a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities: a person who is greatly admired’. One possible starting point was the work of certain designers and engineers who created such iconic products as the Mini, the Citroen DS, the BMC ADO 16 and the Range Rover. My Car of the Show could equally represent heroism at the wheel - Rauno Aaltonen’s victory in his Cooper S in the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally and Juan Manuel Fangio’s driving a Maserati 250F at the Nürburgring in 1957 are feats that have now entered the history books.
Tribute was paid at the Classic Motor Show to the career of Ayrton Senna, the ultimate motoring hero for so many visitors, and many of us were in clear awe at the challenges facing the crew of the Bloodhound SSC as it attempts the 800mph mark in 2017.
Equally, heroism could also be defined as serving the community; just think of the crew of Ernie Jupp’s London Met Jaguar S-Type, on-call to deal with burglaries, arson and traffic accidents and the AEC Regent exhibited by The Masonic Classic Vehicle Club, a bus that worked in the capital for a quarter of a century.
A further definition of a motoring hero or heroine is one who dedicates so much time and effort to a vehicle that it will amaze and delight nearly everyone who encounters it. I was very taken with the Ford 400E Thames Van that George Notman painstakingly refurbished as an exact replica of a Lotus service vehicle of the Jim Clark era and the delightful Mini ice cream van of Janet and Trevor Ripley. As for all the entrants of the Pride of Ownership, from that Astra GTE to the eventual victor, the Austin Metro City, I had secret, albeit thwarted, plans to take up permanent residence on the stand.
Above all, what struck me about the cars at the NEC was the sheer dedication of all the unsung heroes who have raised awareness of their model of choice - and saved a multitude from the crusher. Without the efforts of aficionados such as Peter Lee, Tanya Field, Richard Watt, Colin Corke and this year’s Classic & Sports Car’s “Club Personality of the Year” winner Martyn Wray, the classic world would be a poorer place. Thanks to their efforts, so many Transits, Metros, Cavaliers, Allegros, Gazelles and other cars that were once virtual British street furniture can now be enjoyed by thousands of show goers and there are so many more club officials who have spent months and years putting cars back on the road.
Thus, my award goes to a 1969 Morris Mini Super Deluxe that goes by the Nom-de-BLMC of ‘Margo’. This is not just because of the fact that Mk. II Minis are now an unusual sight on British roads – they were only in production for a little over two years – but more because all proceeds from its sale of £12,938 at Silverstone Auctions were donated to Prostate Cancer UK.
It is a classic that benefits the community, that inspires a future generation of enthusiasts and exemplifies the ethos and the impact of the event.
And that is why she is my Car of the Show.