Bristol Classic Car Show – April 2012

This was the 33rd Bristol Classic Car Show, one of the longest running such events in the country, so clearly the organisers must be doing quite a lot that is right. They certainly survived the closure and demolition of the old Bristol Exhibition Centre, by moving out to the Bath and West Showground at Shepton Mallett, which gives far more space, and following a late cancellation due to snow back in 2010, the new timing of some weeks later means that more people are likely to dig their classics out of storage and come along, and it ought to mean better weather. Given the heavy downpours that afflicted the 2012 event, you have to wonder about the dear old British weather, but then it is unpredictable year around, and it did not seem to do too much to disrupt proceedings. As in 2011, the 2012 event was timed to coincide with “Drive It” Day, and lots of people did just that, with a vast and very varied array of classic, interesting and rare machines parked up outside the exhibition halls. I’ve combined the formal displays with the outdoor show for the purposes of this report, which cannot hope to cover everything that was there, as there were simply too many vehicles, but with close to 400 photos, I had a good try.

An Aceca

Junior Zagato

An immaculate looking 75
Three absolutely splendid Alvis cars on the Owners Club stand. Centrepiece was this gorgeous 1932 SA Speed 20 Charlesworth model. Apparently it was ordered with rallying in mind, and so had some special features, though it now looks far more suited to be the grand tourer. Nevertheless, the car did compete in the 1933 RAC Rally, where it finished 24th out of 94 entrants and it competed again in 1934. It languished in a barn for many years before being superbly restored. This was one of my favourite cars of the day, though I suspect that I know someone else who would engage in pistols at dawn for the privilege of owning it were it to come to it!

The accompanying TA14 and TE21 on the stand were equally lovely.
There was another lovely Alvis on the Attwell Wilson Motor Museum.
A number of these British cars arrived during the afternoon in what looked like a local Owners Club outing. The cars included three of the post war Whiteley models, the Sapphire 236 and the larger Star Sapphire.

Not much in evidence, but this DB5 was rather nice.


The A105 was the most luxurious model that started as the humble A50 Cambridge.
This 1935 A125 Sheerline Princess had spent 30 years without moving before an impressive restoration was undertaken. Although it is apparently still not finished, it looked stunningly good.
A40 Farina
1100 Mark 2
This 1972 Maxi was in top condition. There was also a late model Maxi 2
A Series 2 Allegro in the period shade of Russet Brown
This Metro Vanden Plas was pristine, looking like it had never been used.
A couple of cars, one was a 100 and was a 3000.

Just about the only BMW at the entire event was this E28 model 5 series. It is a 525e, the economy special version that was launched in 1983 when there was a whole craze for producing more fuel efficient vehicles than the standard offering (remember the Formel E VWs with their 3+E gearboxes and a crude stop start system?)

A 403 and a 405 Drophead

GS455 from about 1969

Late model C1 Corvette

1959 Windsor

The 2CV Owners Club had 2 Charleston models on show. One had been restored, and the other was in “as found” condition. Others were parked up outside.

Once a common sight, the Visa has long since disappeared from our roads. This is an 11L model.
Also largely gone is the BX
Traction Avant
This 1955 van was stunning. Based on the Hillman Minx of the period, this van had received a meticulous restoration, and was rewarded with the prize for “Best Commercial in Show.

A 55 Coupe – cue lots of jokes about rubber bands, which was all I heard as I stood by this car doing the photo!

The V8 250 model celebrates its half century this year and this pair of cars made quite a colourful statement in the exhibition halls. Another one was parked up outside.


A very nice 308GTS was one of the three cars on the Yeovil Car club’s stand

Dino 246 GT
There was a stand in the exhibition with 2 of the Nuova 500 on it, but they were always swarmed with people, and neither was anything close to original in so many regards (paint work, wheels, trim etc) that the photographer concentrated more on the nice original Fiats to be found outside. They included the following:

An early 126 – memorably described in Car magazine’s “Good, the Bad and the Ugly” as “a masochists delight”.

A stylish 128 Coupe, a model which only had a three year life before being replaced with the hatchback 3P.
One of the first right hand drive X1/9s, complete with the special decals on the side.
A splendid Dino Coupe, one of my favourite cars. I don’t think I’ve seen this particular car before, either. Despite its K plate, it had the earlier 2 litre engine.
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Cortina, and there will be a number of special events to mark the half century of what was once Britain’s best seller. The occasion did not pass unmarked at this event, with a special display of three Mark 1 models. The blue-green one was winner of Best Post War Car in Show, and is an example of a 1200 Fleet Special. Basic is the only word that comes to mind!

There were plenty of Mark 2 Cortina as well, most of them were 1600E or Savage models.
There were also a trio a Mark 3 models, again two of them were Savages. I was not entirely sure of the strapline on one of them which read  “the gay deceiver”.
There were a pair of the Classic based models on a small stand. The Capri has just completed a tour of duty for a film called “Scar Tissue” where it needed to look “well used”. It certainly did! The green Classic saloon also looked well cared for, but not as glossy as some cars. Another Capri was parked up outside,
It is also 50 years since the launch of the third generation Zephyr/Zodiac, such as this one.
The Mark 1 Escort is a popular classic, and there were several of these, all the performance variants.
There were some later Escorts, too, including this XR3i Cabrio.
The Mark 2 Granada
It is a bit odd to think of the Sierra as a “classic”, but the oldest cars will be 30 later this year and the vast majority of the vast number that were produced have long since vanished from our roads. This was a late model car in very nice condition.
There were a series of small Fords from the late 1940s to early 1960s – an E94 Prefect, and several E93 Populars, as well as the later 1960s Popular which was Ford’s entry level car after the launch of the 105E Anglia, keeping the old body style in production for a few more years.
The 105E Anglia was also represented, with a couple of the more luxurious (that is a relative term!) models from the range.
Among the US Fords were these, a 1972 Gran Torino, a Thunderbird and a Mustang
Three Invader models on the Owners Club stand, one of which was the rare Estate model. Another Series 2 car was to be found outside.

There were a couple of Super Minx cars, an early one with the rare Automatic gearbox and a much later car with the squared off roofline.

Avenger Tiger

Three cars featured on the Imp stand, a conversion into a pickup which remained unphotographed, a Commer Van and a 1967 “Spring Special” which was a limited edition model originally intended for export to Canada, but which for some reason never left UK shores.

There were surprisingly few Jaguars at the event. Highlight was this lovely C Type which was on the Masonic Car Club stand.

This XK 140 was one of the few outside Jaguars.
The Owners Club stand featured an Interceptor, a CV8 and a pair of Jensen-Healeys. One of the latter was the press car used for the introductory road tests back in 1972 which is part way through a problematic restoration,

Outside there were more cars including a few more Interceptors and a 541 which sneaked into the background of another photo.
1935 Bradford

This very stylish coupe features an Italian body on the regular Javelin chassis.
1937 Eleven

This car was awarded “Best Car in Show”, and it is not hard to see why. An absolutely stunning 1950 Aurelia B50 Convertible. The car has had a chequered history, starting off in the UK, but it was sold to an American within a couple of years, and it has spent most of its years there, though given the low mileage, it clearly did not get used that much.

There’s a lot of work required if this Lancia is to get the same accolade. It is a 1930s Aprilia, but it sported VW Beetle rear lights and plenty of rust. Worth doing, as these cars are rare and interesting.
Centrepiece of the show was the display by the Landcrab Owners Club. They had 4 cars on the stand, each of them notable. The maroon one was the most impressive – a very early Austin 1800, it looked better than factory fresh, and had covered a mere 1874 miles since new. The Wolseley Six was marking 40 years since the launch of the E6 engined cars. The Series 1 Morris 1800 is the oldest known surviving example, dating from April 1966, a matter of three weeks after the Geneva Show launch, and the Series 2 car was simply a well preserved example.

There were three Series 1 models on show, but the owners on the stand were pretty protective of two of them, so my pictures only show the one that they allowed show attendees to see unobstructed.

Elan and Plus 2

Not only is the Eclat rare, but this is a Series 2 car, with the 2.2 litre engine, which sold in tiny quantities indeed before the more successful Excel took over.
More recent cars included this Elise and an Evora
This is a 1991 Formula 1 car, which had a Judd V8 engine. An updated Type 102B, this one was driven by Julian Bailey, before his place was taken by Johnny Herbert.. The other driver that season was one Mika Hakkinen.
A pair of Marcos cars were on the main stand, representing the 3 litre model from the 1970s and the later V8 engined Mantula.

Several more Marcos were parked up outside.
Three of these diminutive machines were on show – the Kabinenroller.

As was the case at the 2011 Show, there was a splendid display of early MG models. A couple of the cars were the same as last year, but as these are all rare, there was no harm in seeing them again. The others were further examples of the few survivors.

This is a 1928 14/140 Mark IV Sports 2 seater. One of only 135 cars that were built, it is believed to be the sole survivor.

The other cars were all 18/80 models.  
There were a few of the post war  T series, including a TC and a pair of TDs. The pastiche TF (called a Gentry) kit car did not make my camera. It was not very nice, whereas the genuine ones most certainly were.
The MGB and MGC were much in evidence, as you might expect, as these are popular classics, even before noting the fact that this is the 50th anniversary year and the car can be expected to take pride of place at many events.
This is one of the first MG Maestros ever made. Registered in September 1983, following an order in June, this is the 1600cc R Series car with the talking dashboard. There was a Turbo model present as well, but that seems to have eluded the camera.
There were lots of classic Minis throughout the show, ranging from an early model to plenty of the 1990 Coopers, and even one example of the rare factory Convertible, and a late model Clubman Estate.

The Morgan Owners Club stand comprised a quartet of cars all bedecked in race/rally format.

More were parked up outside.
There were three pre-war Morris on one stand, but getting sight of them, let alone photos proved all but impossible, as the owners thronged around them all day. I did get the outer pair, which were badged Cowley and Oxford, but the van in the middle eluded all efforts to get a green van and not just lots of people.

Several of the popular Minor were in evidence
One of the last Marina Coupes, in period “Sandglow” was joined by a Mumford Convertible. I had assumed that these are rare, as only about 80- were produced, but this is the second I have seen in 2 weeks, and had I gone to the Brooklands Austin-Morris Day, I would have seen a third one.
These cars all disappeared long ago, or so I thought. This 427 Estate car was creating a lot of attention, parked up outside the exhibition halls, with plenty of reminiscences on these cars from when they were new. Imagine my surprise a little later to find a second one parked up.

Two models on display by the Cedric/Gloria Owners Club, both of which have been displayed at this event before: a 1969 2000 and a 1984 300C.

Sole Opel of the day was this Monza, a very desirable car indeed in its day.

The Peugeot Owners Club had a small display outside, with a variety of different morels, of which the most unusual and/or nicest were these three:

304 Coupe

306 Cabrio

Three cars on the Reliant Owners Club stand: an SS1, that rather gawky sports car launched in 1984; the prototype Sabra, the car that became the Sabre; Scimitar GTE

There were some more cars parked up outside including a later version of the SS1 which had the revised styling and was sold under the Scimitar badge.
It would seem that the three wheeled cars are acquiring something of a cult following, and there were several at the event, both on display inside and also outside.  The owners did rather seem to conform to stereotype, but they all seemed to be enjoying themselves, and so who can begrudge them that even if their cars not exactly to my taste!
An R5TX graced the “Classic Car Weekly” stand.

There were two R16s parked up outside, an earlyish TS and the slightly facelifted 16TL.
This was one of two R4s at the other event. The other one still had the plaques from a 50th anniversary event last year, but was in generally rather tattier condition and had been adorned with extra stickers which did not suit the utilitarian demeanour that is the natural appearance of these cars.
There were a couple of Renault Alpine, too, an A110 and an A610.
A pair of RM models on the RM Owners Club Stand: one was a 1.5 litre and the other a 2.5 litre. There were more examples outside

A pair of Olympic models


The South Western SAAB Owners Club had a number of cars on their stand, most of which were the “classic” 900, but there was also a 99 and one of the last 96s that was sold in the UK. The final 150 UK cars, sold in 1976, were finished in this shade of dark red and all feature a commemorative plaque on the dashboard.

There was an earlier V4 96 parked up outside.
The Marbella was based on the original Fiat Panda and was just about different enough for the legal issues that arose between former partner Fiat and SEAT not be an issue.

The Junior was Singer’s riposte to the Austin Seven and Morris Eight

This Roadster dates from 1951, but the car was based on the Le Mans models offered before the Second World War, so by the time this one was sold, it was a pretty outdated car.
The Hunter was a light facelift to the SM1500, the last “true” Singer before the marque started producing badge-engineered Hillman cars.

A variety of cars from the Singer Owners Club were parked up outside.
A colourful display of three cars and a typical transporter.

The “Brat” badging was not officially adopted in the UK, where these cars were generally hard working vehicles, which is perhaps why few of them have survived.

There were a pair of the “Arrow” based coupes, badged Alpine and Rapier, both in stunning condition, which is no mean feat given the propensity of these cars to rust.  There were more outside. These cars have generous space for four in them, and a good boot. If you could find a good one, especially the Holbay tuned cars, they would be a great alternative to the much more common Ford Capri.

A very nice Tiger was parked up outside.
There were a couple of Ford Tractors on show.

2012 is the 50th anniversary of both the Spitfire and the Vitesse and there were examples of both in the exhibition halls.

There were plenty more Vitesse and Herald models outside.
There were also some more Spitfires and the coupe model GT6.
All the different models in the popular TR range were represented from TR2 to TR8.
Plenty of Stag models.
As well as a Dolomite Sprint, there was a 1500TC and, offered as a prize by the Attwell Wilson Motor Museum, the limited edition Dolomite SE from 1979 and a lesser Dolomite 1500.
Several of the 2000/2500 models, too.
1930s Van

The 3000S from the late 1970s provided an interesting contrast with the later S model, which was the car which really set TVR up for their great expansion in the 1990s.

The “Droopsnoot” Firenza

Chevette HSR
The rare Cabriolet version of the Cavalier.
A couple of the FA series Victors were splendid survivors of a car notorious for premature rusting. Both were the facelifted Series 2 cars which toned down some of the chrome excesses of grille and bumpers, and routed the exhaust pipe in a more conventional way rather than through the rear bumper as was the case (much to mechanics’ chagrin!) in the early cars.  
Definitely one of the more unusual cars of the day, lots of people were looking at this one and scratching their heads, not sure what it was. Everyone seemed to like it though.

This car is apparently the original model driven by The Saint. Recovered from a very tatty condition indeed, and a coating of red paint, it is undergoing a full restoration.

Two rival Wolseley Car Clubs each had stands, in different halls, thus ensuring that there were more of these cars on show than might otherwise have been the case. They ranged from the more familiar products from the 1950s and 1960s all the way back to the 1930s and less well known models, including these.

There were lots of really lovely cars to enjoy, and plenty of oddities and well cared for low mileage cars that were in better than showroom condition. If I had to pick just one, although that Fiat Dino would have been awfully tempting, I think the burgundy coloured Alvis SA Speed 20 would have been my pick. It was just magnificent.
The weather was frustrating, to put it mildly, but this was still a good day out. That said, it is just as well that there were hundreds of cars outside, as the display halls would not have entertained me for that long. I also wish that the people who bring their cars and show them would realise that the visitors want to see them, too. On so many displays, the proud owners were standing guard over their cars, or eternally going in and out of the boot and fiddling with their cars that you wondered if they were not treating the display simply as a warm place to meet their fellow owners. By all means protect your treasures from the public, but please, do give us a chance to look at them and ideally to photograph them without standing in the way!

2012-04-24 06:05:05

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