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‘Trouble at the top… Conflict, Fear and Loathing in the competitive world of professional car club exhibiting’
Car enthusiasts enjoyed a sun drenched weekend at the Bristol Classic Car Show, which is cunningly titled to make customers think it’s in Bristol when it’s actually in the middle of nowhere.
Around 300 classic cars filled the main auditorium, three huge event marquees and even the vacated cow sheds of the agricultural Showground.
Owners Club Displays lined the halls, with only a few clubs complaining about the smell of urine in the cow sheds, although the Riley Owners Club insisted that the smell was fine before the Jowett Drivers Club arrived.
Over 70 car clubs were competing for a plethora of awards, which included ‘Best Display’, ‘Best Car’, ‘Best Hat’, ‘Baldest Head’, ‘Least Coordinated Outfit’, ‘Highest Combined Member Age’ and of course the coveted trophy for the ‘Club That Promotes The Least Interesting Type Of Vehicle’, which the Rover 200/400 Owners Club has proudly held since the car was launched.
Out in the public classic car car park the car snobbery was rife. Some of the car clubs thought the general public ought not to be allowed to judge whether or not their car is a classic, and tried to implement a judging system to “wheedle out the crap” .The Riley Owners Club caused trouble again by joining with the Alvis Owners Club, Early MG Club and the Jaguar E Type Club, who were all reprimanded by event staff for trying to roll a 1990s BMW 3 Series Cabriolet into the path of the Bath & West Railway train.
The Riley Owners Club weren’t the only club to be cautioned by event staff. The Imp Club received a severe talking to for bringing the classic car world to a standstill by starting a rumour that Mike Brewer had been found dead. Their antics were only discovered when event staff became suspicious and drove to the nearest pub to use the internet, because no one in the history of the world has been given the WiFi password for Bath & West Showground.
Sunday’s classic car auction was full of surprises, when a Vauxhall Calibra actually sold to a customer who had deliberately and consciously placed a bid. “I couldn’t believe that my Calibra only sold for £300, I bought it for £2000 and it’s recently had a £7000 restoration” said Mr S Hitcar from Somerset, who said he was using the funds to purchase a Rover 400.
The autojumble was the noisiest area of the show, with the sound of hands rifling through boxes of MG door handles and window winders only drowned out by the constant booming of drum and bass music that was coming from the Ford RS Owners Club stand.
Outside in the traders zone a full schedule of well attended demonstrations took place, including ‘how to replace a head gasket on a Rover using nothing but an old coat hanger and an egg’ and ‘how to strip a 1970s Escort for parts when you need to be very quiet, don’t have much time to spare and can’t find the keys’.
Many of the vehicles in the main arena were for sale, although a white 1978 MGB failed to garner any interest at all “I keep asking if anyone wants to buy an MG” said Jayne Smith, of Bath “but it’s like I’m selling AA Membership, people just say ‘already got one thanks’. How can everyone already own an MGB? Even the caterers say they have one at home”.
The awards ceremony presented few surprises, with the Pre War Morris Society taking the ‘Best Hat’, ‘Least Coordinated Outfit’ and ‘Highest Combined Member Age’ all at once. No one could touch the Rover 200/400 club in the ‘Club That Promotes The Least Interesting Type Of Vehicle’ award.
“It’s been a great event” said Geoff Jefferson of the Triumph Tiara Club “Next year we will be better prepared, there’s a committee meeting on Monday and the chairman wants silverware, so we’re hoping to be the first car club to send a man into space”
And with that, a horde of classic cars left Bristol Classic Car Show for the long journey back to Bristol.