Tuesday November 14, 2017
Imagine one Christmas you had been given – or ‘borrowed’ from the sideboard – an entire tin of Quality Street and were therefore faced with the exceedingly pleasurable dilemma of choosing your first Green Triangle or Caramel Swirl.
On Saturday 11th November, I experienced a not dissimilar sensation on entering the NEC – should I make a beeline for the Rover P6B 3500 or perhaps the 1970 Dodge Charger on the Pride of Ownership stand?
How did that Vanden Plas 1800 prototype manage to survive all those years? And why did the theme tune from Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) run through my head on glimpsing a fine array of FD series Vauxhalls?
As always, some of the displays made me, in the best possible way, feel my age; the array of Metros that once dominated every shopping precinct in the days when ABC was singing about 15 Storey Halo or the Fiesta SuperSports from the time of Russ Abbott’s Madhouse.
The De Dion Bouton Club UK represented the dawn of motoring in the UK and around literally every corner was a car that amazed, from a Bulgarian-assembled Maestro to an exquisite Triumph Italia 2000 Coupe to a Type 14 Lotus Elite, which has to be one of the most aesthetically perfect vehicles of the past 100 years.
Of course, the theme for this year’s Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show was ‘Family Ties’ and the stands interpreted this theme in so many different forms, from dynasties of cars to the individual stories behind the vehicles.
On Lancaster's own stand was a Land Rover registration number SNX 891 that took part in the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition – an incredible 18,000-mile overland journey from London to Singapore in 1955.
The scribe and assistant cameraman was a young gentleman named Tim Slessor who, 62 years later, was an honoured guest at the National Exhibition Centre.
For anyone who wishes to gain an impression of the challenges, he and his fellow team members underwent, this short documentary is essential viewing
One of the main sounds of the event were muttered comments along the lines of ‘my dad used to have one of those’ (this was heard a good deal near Marinas and Maxis) and on Saturday there was the excitement of the #ClassicRumble at Silverstone Auctions.
Team Mike’s 1989 Ford Escort XR3i vied with Team Ant’s Dowsetts Classic Racer to raise the greatest sum for charity with both raising £22,500 for their chosen charities – plus music from The Quarrymen.
Personally, I think it is high time that skiffle made a comeback and I understand that the group’s original singer went onto some success in a group named The Beatles.
As an unabashed 1950s and early 1960s throwback in terms of musical and automotive tastes, I had to make a bee-line for the Pride of Ownership display to marvel at the duotone cream and maroon Hillman Minx Series III that looked as though it had just been driven in from a Rank Look at Life travelogue.
And the ex-London Metropolitan Police Daimler SP250 “Dart” had a fully functioning bell - I checked.
Above all, these three days celebrated so many cars that would not survive, were it not for the devotion of the owners and the clubs.
They could be an L-spec Princess “Wedge”, a Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” or an Austin Allegro Estate, for each exhibit was an essential aspect of a nation’s motoring heritage – and of the days, months and years given by so many enthusiasts. And that is why the Show is so important.