Tuesday February 5, 2019
As a change from the weather which, at the time of writing, is best described as ‘very cold’, here is a celebration of that backbone of the classic car movement – the local or regional shows and gatherings. The photograph of Colchester’s Roman Roadsters Alternative Vehicle Club - www.facebook.com/RomanRoadsters/ - was kindly provided by Andrew Cleal of Renault 30TS fame, and he explains that it is an ‘informal monthly gathering on the river - not in it!’.
All manner of vehicles attended, and any meeting that might feature a Ford Cortina Mk. IV, a Vauxhall Viva HB De Luxe, a Rover P6B and a Ford Anglia 105E is definitely worth visiting. According to Mr. Cleal, 50 cars took part in the January meeting, but in the summer ‘we get 150-ish’.
Of course, thousands of such meetings take place across the UK. Sometimes, the visitor to a town may encounter an event purely by chance; I once happened across a line of classics parked on the waterfront in Swanage where an Austin A110 Westminster perfectly completed the local steam railway. On other occasions you find a “motor show” taking place within a village fete, where amongst the tug-of-war and the bric-a-bric stalls there would be a Green Goddess Bedford fire engine.
At least that was my experience outside of Reading last year, while you could also find a Morris Ital Estate, an Austin Montego Countryman or a first-generation Renault 5. You might equally stand a chance of seeing a Wolseley 6/90, an Aston Martin DB6, a Vanden Pals 1500 or a Lancia Delta, for one of the pleasures in attending a local gathering is the appearance of the unexpected and the ultra-rare.
As with any show, the exhibits are the result of hours, days and weeks of planning on behalf of the organisers. The cars have to found, the owners have to be requested to give up their time, and a venue has to be selected, checked and booked. Then comes the issue of staffing the gate, arranging the publicity, ensuring that there are enough direction signs on the day and that there is the right form of catering plus the planning of the displays to showcase the cars to maximum effect.
And the results are worth all the work carried out by so many parties. Visitors may encounter the model that was once their first company car, and you are bound to hear the ubiquitous statement ‘my dad/mum/aunt/uncle/headmaster had one of those!’. If the weather is decent, there might be 99 flakes sold by the sort of Bedford CF that is now mainly encountered in the backgrounds of The Sweeney plus that aroma of leather upholstery slowly baking in the sun.
Being based In Oxfordshire, I am fortunate enough to live within access of the Chiltern Hills Vintage Rally - www.chilternhillsrally.org.uk/ and the Cowley Convoy - www.facebook.com/groups/cowleyconvoy/about/.
These are just two reasons why I take the opportunity to once again thank everyone who create and staff these shows – for just imagine a classic world devoid of such dedicated volunteers. It is quite impossible…