Queen Square Bristol Breakfast Club – July 2013

With a motoring calendar that seemed largely clear for a weekend, thanks to the enormous pull of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, it looked as if I might get some time to laze around in the sunshine, soaking up rays in the back garden, and then I recalled that it was indeed the second Sunday of the month, and that meant a Sunday morning gathering in Bristol’s Queens Square. My suspicions that this would prove a popular event proved to be correct, as when I arrived at a couple of minutes after 9am, there were cars parked around all 4 sides of the square, and most of the curbs on the outer side of the Square also had cars parked by them. There was a steady coming and going of more cars during the morning, giving plenty to look at until around 11:15am, at which time most of the remaining cars departed. With cars parked under the trees, and very strong sunshine, photography was not always easy, and there were a few cars where any attempt to take a picture would have resulted in something barely recognisable, but I was able to capture most of what was present during the morning.


Good to see that without any Abarthisti co-ordination or organisation, there were 4 Abarths present, all of which were 500 models.

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There were several Cobra-type cars, though none, as far as I could tell, was actually one of the original 1960s machines. Still nice, though, and attracting lots of attention.

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Also present was an Aceca, the coupe version of the Ace, the car that begat the Cobra.

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Only a few Alfas this time. The very clean looking 75 did not stay long. I also liked the 916 series Spider, a car you rarely see in black. There were a pair of 156s, too, though they were in the “wrong” part of the square for photography.

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David Roots had brought along his Alfa Special, though I don’t think he stayed long, as when I walked around the Square a second time, it had gone.

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I’ve seen this Graber bodied Alvis at the event before. It always attracts a lot of attention, and deservedly so, too.

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V8 Vantage

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Not perhaps the most beautiful car of the 1960s, there is no doubting the vast amount of space in the Austin 1800 “Land Crab”, a car which is dwarfed externally by a Focus, but with far more space for people contained within it.  This is a Series 3 car.

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The Big Healey was well represented, with a number of 3000s and a couple of the earlier 100 models.

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There were both the 401 and 411 models on show.

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This is an example of the Corvette Stingray, dating from the late 1970s.

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Kent based coachbuilder Crayford converted a whole array of different family sized cars in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly into Convertibles. This Capri is one of the less commonly seen models that they modified.

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Perfect weather for an open top car like the diminutive Copen

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The SP250 “Dart” sports car.

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This 1948 De Luxe caught my eye as I drove around the Square, looking for a parking place. Closer inspection revealed an original car in fabulous condition.

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The duo of 1971 Challengers that I liked when I last visited this event both made a repeat appearance, and it was good to see them again.

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A number of Ferraris were represented, from the 308 GTB of the 1970s, through the the F355 of the mid 1990s to the more recent 360 Modena.

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Oldest Ford was this rather splendid Model A.

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This 1930s Model Y showed how Ford managed to produce a car which at one point listed for just £100. Basic is definitely the epithet.

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Not that the early 1960s equivalent was much less spartan, as this 100E Popular showed.

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There were a couple of Mark 2 Consul saloons.

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Among the 1960s models were a Consul Classic, a Corsair and a couple of Mark 2 Cortinas.

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More recent cars included a Mark 2 Escort RS2000, a bright orange Mark 3 Capri.

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Among the American Fords were a Mustang and a “square bird” Thunderbird. This latter was up for sale, for £20,000.

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The Avenger, a very popular family car of the early 1970s, now mostly faded away apart from a few of the limited edition Tiger models which appear quite frequently.

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Some lucky person has clearly managed to get their hands on one of the first F Types. He drove out of the Square with a smile on his face only exceeded by that on his small son who was in the passenger seat.

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A nice 541R.

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Probably my favourite car of the day was this 1953 Kaiser Manhattan. Kaiser are not well known, but were made in Michigan by the same firm who made ships and a lot of mining gear. It was built to a high standard, and with a 4 litre flathead engine and 4 speed automatic gearbox, it went well compared to its competitors. Production ended a couple of years after this car was built. I had a long chat with the owner who told me that the car had arrived in the UK in the 1960s, and had gradually deteriorated. He bought it a few years ago and has undertaken a 3 year restoration which required him to let in a lot of new metal, rebuild the engine, and get a lot of new trim parts from America. The result is absolutely stunning.  He said that his next project, a 1951 Buick Roadmaster, is in transit somewhere between California and the UK at the moment.

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This Delta Integrale was really rather nice.

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A good mix of cars from an early Elan through to the Esprit and (undepicted as he drove off just before I got to him with the camera), an Excel.

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As always, there was a strong showing from the local MX5 Owners Club, with several of their cars present.

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A rather nice R107 model 500SL

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Of course there were a couple of Britain’s much loved sports car, the MGB.

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I recognised this Cowley from my last visit to the event, but thanks to the choice of parking location, was able to secure a couple of better photos of it this time.

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From more recent times was this Mark 1 Marina Estate. The Estate models are the rarest of all model derivatives now (even without help in depleting their stock from Top Gear).

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Another fabulous American car was this 1947 Ambassador model. This one has also had a fastidious restoration, and the engine looked cleaner than the outside of my car does when I have washed it.

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Just one 300ZX model this time. Whenever I have been in the past, there have always been several of these attending.

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Another 1948 car was this Special De Luxe, also in outstanding condition. It turned out that all 4 of the 1940s and 1950s American cars belonged to people in the local branch of the American Car Club and they all know each other well.

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Lots of Porsche were present, with the 911 the most numerous model.

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There were also a number of the front engined models, with 924,  944 Cabrio and a brace of 928 as well.

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Just the day to enjoy some of these zany Hot Rods. Several turned up, some wilder than others.

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Although this Mark 1 Silver Shadow does not dwarf contemporary cars in the way that the model would have done when new, it still looks very imposing, and a glance inside shows the fastidious attention to detail that was a lot of the reason for buying one of these exclusive cars when new.

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There were a couple of P6 Rovers, one from the 1960s and one from the 1970s showing the facelifted trim details that were applied to keep the model fresh.

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This 96 V4 was a relatively late arrival.

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This Mark 2 Vanguard is another of those cars which I have seen at this event in the past.

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A late model Rapier.

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Surprisingly few Triumphs this time, though I did follow this Stag into the Square when I arrived.

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One of the most attention grabbing cars of the day was this little Trojan 250 Bubble Car. I still don’t know how you get into one with any shred of dignity, as I guess you open the door, then sort throw yourself in towards the seat.

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There were several TVRs, as you would expect. This was just the sort of weather allowing the TVR owner and indeed anyone in earshot to enjoy these cars at their best.

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Nicely preserved Nova GTEs like this one are a real rarity.

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A well presented Golf GTi

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This Beach Buggy was, not surprisingly, Beetle based.

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One of many Lotus Seven type cars attending, this one had a Westfield badge on the nose.

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I’ve been to this event a few times now, and had started to wonder if it would become a bit “same-y” after a while. There were indeed a few cars which I have seen present before, but there was plenty that was previously unseen, so it was definitely worth a look. The local constabulary must have known this, too, as no fewer than 5 patrol cars made a very slow trip around the square, in most cases pausing, with the police men and women getting out, having a friendly chat with some of the people by their cars, before moving on. It was clear that they had come out of curiosity and a love of the cars on show rather than with any enforcement or more sinister motive and that was really great to see. There are events like this now all over the country, some larger than others, but well worth seeking out.

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