Gaydon Spring Classic – May 2013

The automotive events calendar is sufficiently full that there is plenty going on across the UK almost all year round. However, some weekends attract larger and higher profile events than others. That is certainly true in May when the Bank Holiday weekends at the start and conclusion of the month tend to be the ones with the “biggest” events, leaving the middle weekends for smaller scale and regional gatherings. From my researches of what was scheduled for the second weekend of the month, I elected to pay a return visit to the Spring Classic meeting at Gaydon, as I knew from having attended in 2011 that there would be an element of surprise in just what would appear during the day, and with a weather forecast that threatened sun and showers, the ability to retreat into the museum gave me a refuge should the rain prove too challenging. My expectations proved accurate in all particulars, with an eclectic mixture of cars that you do not see every day, both parked up in the area in front of the museum, and indeed in the car park at the other end of the approach drive. Although some vehicles stayed on site for the whole day, plenty of others were only around for a couple of hours, or in some cases less even than that, but with more cars arriving throughout the morning, there was plenty to keep me interested until the onset of heavy rain caused that retreat into the museum. Here are the more notable cars from the day:


This one was in the car park rather than participating in the event.

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I was admiring this very pretty Aceca when the owner arrived back at his car. Before he set off, he grabbed an allen key which seems to be what is needed to release the twin bonnet catches, glanced under the bonnet, closed it, and then set off. This was a Bristol engined car, and it sounds good, though nothing like as raucous as you might expect from an AC.

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Not a car for the introvert, with its distinctive Alpina stripes down the side, this E28 derived B9 model is the same one as I saw at an event last year. As far as I am aware, it is now unique in the UK.

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The rather nice TD21.

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A trio of models from this long extinguished marque

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A B7 generation RS4 still attracts attention, and rightly so too, as it is already hailed as a “modern classic”.

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Oldest Austin present was this late model Seven.

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Form the 1960s were an A110 Westminster and an ADO16 model Mark 2 1100.

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In the publicity material for the event, I had seen that the Allegro Club International were going to use Gaydon as their base for a weekend of celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Allegro. And well aware that this car has acquired a certain cult following, I expected that there would likely be quite a few Allegros present. Even so, when I counted 50 on site, I was quite surprised at just how strong a turn out have been achieved. Apparently, I should not have been, as the owners are an enthusiastic bunch! My friend  the Rev Colin Corke, needless to say, had brought along two of his (and a Metro), and I noted that one car arrived late morning on a trailer, not because it was broken, but because the owner had only just fitted a new gearbox, and had not tested it on the road, and he thought that a trip from Manchester was perhaps a little too far in case he had not quite got it right! Just about every colour that was offered – and the shades varied from the rather “tame” Glacier White and Mirage (pale grey) to the bright/garish/billious (choose your epithet!) such as Pageant Blue, Vermillion and Citron. The cars were separated into the three different “Series”, with a separate line for each of the Estate models and the Vanden Plas cars.

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There were even a duo of the rather distinctive Equipe models, a limited edition car available in 1979 (and for some years after as they lingered in the showroom for quite a long time!).

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The condition of the cars varied from a bit rough to absolutely A1, with Colin Corke’s 1750SS, complete with its ochre interior, in the second category. This is a pilot build car, made between September and December 1972, several months before the launch, but not actually registered until June 1974.

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Among the Vanden Plas models was one of just 8 ever made that was painted in the very period Applejack colour. This is certainly distinctive, though I could easily understand why even at the time, the more sober hues proved more popular.

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As well as the strong Allegro showing, the Metro Owners Club were also present in some quantity, with a wide variety of these cars on show, ranging from early A Series engined cars to the later K Series models, and the rare Cabrio car among the display.  Among them was the sole surviving City Special, a car which had a long list of features deleted to get the price down. Deleting the pin stripes down the side is one thing, but no passenger door mirror and no passenger sun visor seem particularly mean by the standards of the day, and can barely have saved more than a couple of pounds of cost.

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Dating from the mid 1970s was this Maxi. Absolutely immaculate, here was another stark reminder of how things have changed. This car measures just 13 foot 2″, which is as near as makes no difference the same size as a current Fiesta, and yet there is an incredible amount of space inside the passenger compartment for people (and a decent sized boot). Ok, so the crash protection may be somewhat inferior, but not all progress is good………

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The Maestro and Montego Owners Club had three cars on show: a basic Maestro City and top spec MG Maestro Turbo and a Montego 2.0 HL

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The SP250 “Dart” sports car.

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This 308 GTB did not seem to stay very long

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The 360 Modena Spider was in the main car park.

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This Mark 2 Capri was very nicely presented indeed

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This facelifted version of the original Fiesta in one of many of the factory limited editions showed just how basic cars of this class were just 30 years ago. Then I realised, we are talking 30 years ago, and how standards and expectations have changed a lot in that time!

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There was a recent GT Shelby Mustang on show, too.

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An absolutely pristine “Audax” model Minx.

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I did see an orange F Type come down the long driveway, head round the museum, and presumably it then exited. As compensation, though, I found this black one parked up in the main car park. With 62 plates on it, I have to assume that this is a factory car.

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There was an example of the spiritual predecessor, too, the E Type, in Series 3 V12 guise.

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Final Jaguar was the Mark 2 saloon

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Even among the varied hues of the 1970s and 1980s cars, you could not miss this bright green Gallardo Superleggera. I thought that you would probably be equally aware of it when the owner fired the engine, preparing to depart, but he made one of the most tentative exits imaginable, which was really rather disappointing!

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Among the Gaydon supplied vehicles were a line of Land-Rover and Range-Rover cars used for the Off-Road experiences offered by the venue, and we spotted this new Range-Rover Sport car which conveniently was parked next to the outgoing model, for ease of comparison. I had seen another such car out on the road (minus the camouflage) while en route to the venue.

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A lovely pair of 1980s Lotus: Esprit and Excel, the latter of which is really low in comparison to almost everything else present.

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This 250 SE Coupe looked particularly elegant.

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There were a couple of R107 300SL cars – very nice indeed,

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You can pretty much guarantee that any event like this will feature a few classic MG sports cars, and this one was no exception. A “Citron” painted Midget made just before the rubber bumper models appeared was joined by a lovely early MGB model.  They were joined by a couple of later MGBs as well.

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Early Minis are particularly popular at present, with those offered for sale attracting some frankly crazy amounts of money. This was one of those early, and very basic cars.

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There was also an example of the notoriously unreliable ERA Turbo car on display.

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Eight Tourer

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An early P6 model 2000.

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Even the R8 Rover 200/400 cars are now a sort of potential classic (let’s face it, they were excellent cars in their day), so this 214SEi was a worthy exhibit among the older vehicles.

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I confess, I had to look at the badge on this one. It would appear that I was far from alone, as many people were equally unsure of its identity.

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The Doretti was a British made sports car, based on Triumph TR2 underpinnings made in small quantities in the mid 1950s. They were expensive when new, and these days are a rare sighting.

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The big Triumph gathering at Gaydon is scheduled for the week following this event, but there were a couple of TRs and a nice Stag on show.

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Both these Viva models had been present at Donington the previous weekend. I had a chat with their enthusiastic owners, who told me that the HA model was pretty much unrestored, whereas the HB car had spent 16 months gradually being brought back to its present state. The HA car is a De Luxe, so although it looks awfully spartan, it actually featured such refinements as a heater and a passenger sun visor, neither of which were fitted to the base model cars! The HB model was the up-market SL trim, but fitted with the 1159cc engine, and so top speed and acceleration were not exactly of the highest order as it is notably bigger and heavier than the earlier model. The Viva celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, but the owners said that there are no big events planned, largely because there are now so few of these cars on the road and the owners are scattered across the British Isles.

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There was also an example of the FB series Victor, again in lovely condition.

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The immaculate looking Mark 1 Golf GTi came and went before I pointed a camera at it, but I did manage to record the presence of this early 1960s Beetle and a Karman Ghia

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Despite the bitingly cold wind in the morning, and the arrival of the promised rain in the afternoon, this was a nice event. Without the large Allegro and Metro presence, it would have been on the small side, but even so it kept me diverted for long enough for me to consider the journey not to be in vain.

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