For many years, the Bristol Classic Car show has represented the opener for the year, taking place in very early February. This year, the weather got the better of a venue that is not actually in Bristol but at the Bath and West Showground outside Shepton Mallett and the event had to be postponed at the last minute. It was rescheduled to the May Day holiday weekend, which meant it could open for 3 days, and would clearly offer some different options for potential exhibitors, who may be happier driving their treasured possessions on the roads of late spring rather in the more risky conditions of winter. In the end, I don’t think I detected much difference, with a good mixture of stands and cars that feature regularly at this show and some vehicles that I had never seen before.
Three cars from this one proud marque featured on the stand of the red triangle.
A number of these cars were dispersed throughout the show, as you might expect. This is a Seven from the 1930s
Three cars formed the main display for the Austin Ten Owners Club. Think of these cars as the Focus or Astra of their day.The A30/A35 Owners club had a stand with four of these popular low-cost classics on showAn early Mini Countryman, complete with the wood panelling.An A40 Farina – perhaps not the first car you would think of to bedeck with ribbons for wedding duty!BMW
A small oblong stand featured three of the 3 series cars. The E36 Coupe was a late model 325i and was one of the last built.
A small showing of light commercial Citroens included this 2CV Van.
A couple of these American sports cars featured on the Corvette Owners Club stand.
There were a couple of examples of the DS250, otherwise known as the Dart – that rather gawky glassfibre sports car that was far from a success when it was launched in 1959, but which is held in rather higher esteem now.
FARINA Owners Club
A couple of the BMC Farina cars were on show. There was a 1959 Cambridge in two tone lilac and black, and this Wolseley 16/60, both of which are doyens of this event.
The Blue Oval featured on a number of stands, themed by individual model.
Three Capris were there to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of “the car you always promised yourself”There were Cortinas, too, such as these Mark 2 models.These Anglias are from a rather earlier era. I can’t imagine that anyone would want to travel long distances in these, but they would have put many people on wheels for the first time in their lives.This Model Y is an even earlier car, and was from the days when “basic” really did mean just that.GILBERN
Produced just over the border, in Wales, these glassfibre bodied coupes were both stylish and popular until the introduction of VAT made them just too expensive and production was abandoned in 1974. This is a Series 3 Invader coupe, one of the later model cars.
A Fourteen from the 1930s. Although this is a large car, the amount space in the back was truly astonishing – a packaging lesson that today’s manufacturers could do well to investigate!
A rather splendid Hawk from the mid 1950s graced this stand.
The theme here was around cars based on the Imp, so a number of unusual variants were shown. These included the Zimp, a Zagato based special coupe which was created in 1964 and of which just 3 were built before the project was stopped.
The Clan Crusader was built for a couple of years in the 1970s and there were numerous efforts to try to revive the venture in the 1980s and 1990s that never really got off the ground.This kit car was offered late in the life of the Imp, as an cheaper alternative to the Mini-Marcos/Midas. It was not a success.JAGUAR
This 1930s SS100 Jaguar had been awarded the accolade of “best car in show”. It was indeed a fine specimen.There were only a couple of “E” Types at the event, and this is one of them.JENSEN
A lovely Interceptor, which had been awarded a prize for the best paintwork in the show. Still undervalued, these elegant cars are as imposing now as they were when launched in 1966.
A rather forgotten marque now, who made a series of cars and light vans from their Bradford premises until the late 1950s, each featuring advanced engineering, taking advantage of the excellent handling you could derive from a low mounted flat four engine, the sole vehicle on their stand was this Van.
Three Series one Landies were on show.
A “local” firm this, when they were still producing their characterful cars. There were 4 cars from the 40 year history to enjoy, including the rather insane LM500
Surprisingly few of these much-loved sports cars at the show, but there was one stand with four cars on it, and two of the display cars were these:
Three cars on this stand: a Vauxhall Firenza 2300 Coupe, a Rover 216 Cabrio (not illustrated) and an MG Maestro.
A big showing from the Malvern-based company, who celebrate their centenary in 2009. Highlight was the pre-production version of the AeroMax, which had been driven back from its last tour of duty in France. We had quite a long chat with the stand staff, who told us, among other things that a service requires the removal of the wings, and he then showed us just crowded things are under the bonnet. Although the car looks like it might be crowded inside, it fitted Dan perfectly.
A representative range of older cars was on show, too.MORRIS
Three pre-war cars featured on one of the stands, with a Series E, an Eight and a 1932 Minor Van.
Elsewhere, the Minor Owners club had put a lot of effort into a themed stand.NISSAN-DATSUN
The 1960s Datsun 2000 that was initially registered in Rhodesia was making another appearance, along with this, a 300C from the mid 1980s
This Scimitar GTC was the only representative of this marque inside the halls, though there were several also located outside.
The RM stand had 2 cars on it, The earlier, all black car, an RMA had been in the same ownership for 50 years before being sold on.
There was a separate stand which featured the 1.5 and a 1930s Kestrel.ROVER
This rather splendid P2 Rover looked entirely fitting as a wedding car.
The P5 Rover remains a popular car, of course, and these 2 fine examples were good evidence why that should be the case.SAAB
Three of the last traditional SAABs, the first 900 range were on this small stand. Now 20 years old, it is hard to believe.
4 cars on the Singer Owners Club stand, including this, the Hunter, a rather unsuccessful family saloon from the mid 1950s, and the last car produced before Singer became just a badge in the Rootes Group
This Gazelle Convertible is one of only a few survivors of its type. Most of the rusted away a long time ago.The Singer Nine was from the 1930s and was a successful volume selling alternative to the Ford, Austin and Morris cars of the day.Elsewhere, I came across this “Arrow”-based Vogue. a luxury version of the car that featured in my parents’ garage for many years.SUNBEAM
A Rapier from the early 1960s, a car which had clearly had plenty of recent adventures, judging by the photo album showing it traversing Europe, including picture at the top of the Stelvio Pass.
A number of different Triumph owners clubs had cars on show.
The Mayflower was one of the first post war designs to make production. Despite its rather odd razor-edged styling and the fact that the 1200cc engine was somewhat ill-equipped to power quite a sizeable car, it sold well, with over 35,000 cars built in its three year lifespan.VAUXHALL
This Cresta epitomises 1950s Britain, recovering from the war and post-war rationing and shortages, where bold colours and brash styling apeing what was going on over the Atlantic was considered the height of fashion.
A lone example of the PV544 featured here.
This 1958 15/50 was in beautiful condition. A close relative of the more commonly encountered MG Magnette, this was premium saloon motoring, 1950s style.
This unusual convertible, based on the Hornet was one of 57 cars built as prizes for a Heinz competition, majoring on the “57 varieties” strap line that the company still uses today. Amazingly, 48 of the 57 cars are still around, spread from California to Australia.There were a number of cars parked up outside, within the show ground itself.
Lancia Flavia Convertible
Talbot Sunbeam LotusA 1977 Vauxhall VX4/90A Datsun Cherry 120A Coupe – once quite common, these are very rarely spotted these days.VW Kharman GhiaBMW 2002Late model AlfasudAustin A40 FarinaAnother Mini CountrymanAs always with a show like this, there is quite often as much interest in the car park as the vehicles attending the event itself, so we did have a good tour around the field where we had parked up, and came across these:1958 Vauxhall PA Cresta1955 Sunbeam-Talbot 90An E21 BMW 320iA Triumph StagNow rare, there was an early 1980s Datsun Laurel and a 1990s Fiat Tempra – yes, I know that they’re not exactly exciting, but when did you last see one?So, this was yet another good day out, of course. It is not on the scale of some of the national events, but there was plenty to see, and like last year, show goers were handed a “goodie” bag, which included various samples of confectionary, tea bags and cosmetics, though no box of biscuits, sadly! It will be interesting to see whether the show reverts to its February timing in 2010, or if the May Day Bank Holiday is deemed to be “better”.