Bristol Summer Classics – August 2013

Although you might think that the events calendar for the automotive enthusiast is now so packed that any new event would run the risk of having few cars on show and few people to look at hem, it would appear that this is still not yet the case. So, there’s still room for additional events, as the organisers of one local to me, called Bristol Summer Classics, found out when they launched their venture a couple of years ago. Held in the spacious grounds of a farm in the village of Easter Compton, to the north of Bristol, this venture runs over 2 days, with the option for people to set up camp and enjoy the Saturday and Sunday. I attended the inaugural event on the Saturday (doubtless as there was something else in my calendar for the following day), and whilst there were some interesting cars to see, it did not divert me for very long. So when I spotted a gap in my schedule for 2013, I decided to sample the event on a Sunday, expecting it to be busier. It was, though the whole event is still not that big, and a lot of the cars were the same as I had seen at the Queens Square Breakfast Club in the morning. I suppose that should not be a surprise, as I had also packed both events into my diary. What I did find, in a rather random assembly of cars and other “stuff” was quite an eclectic collection of cars, many of which had been, let’s say “modified”, and not in a way that appeals to me, along with some treasured classics which were well worthy of scrutiny. Although all marques were of course declared welcome, there were a surprising number of American vehicles, which added some interest to the more commonly seen British Classics. Here are my highlights:


Oldest Austin in evidence was this 1930s model Seven.

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There were a line of the 1950s equivalent model, the A30 and A35 cars, diminutive by the standards of the day, and really small and narrow looking now.

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Although this was a large car in its day, it does not seem so now, the Austin 1800 seen here in Mark 3 guise.

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Not surprisingly, there were several examples of the Big Healey on display.

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Back in the 1970s if you wanted an open topped BMW, you needed one with a Baur conversion like this 1602.

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A 400, the first model that came out of the Filton plant, starting from 1947.

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I don’t think history will look particularly fondly on Cadillacs of the 1990s, but someone clearly likes them as evidenced by this deVille Sedan.

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By contrast, the 1959 models always attract lots of attention, as this was the year when the tail fins reached their absolute zenith. With lashings of chrome, this model made quite a statement wherever the owner took it, and it still does so today.

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This 1950s pickup was beautifully presented, and was one of my favourite vehicles of the event. (No, this is not Dan speaking – has he influenced me?!).

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Also from the 1950s was this 1956 Bel Air Two Door.

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Also rather nice was this 1948 Fleetmaster Sedan.

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There were a couple of Corvettes, a  C4 and C5. Look at the two and you can see how the car grew between these generations.

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1959 Windsor. Lots of chrome, but still quite an elegant design in my opinion. This was from the era when Virgil Exner was the lead stylist at Chrysler, and it is reputed that his design caused GM to have to undertake more than one radical rethink on their planned new models when they saw his designs.

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The Sovereign differed from the XJ6 only really in badging and the use of the fluted radiator grille. This is a Series 1 car.

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Large Datsun or later Nissan from the Cedric and Gloria line of cars are quite often seen at shows, thanks to an enthusiastic Owners Club. This 1973 240C is not one of their cars that I can recall seeing before, though.

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I admired this fabulous 1948 Dodge de Luxe at Queens Square last month, and it looked just as splendid in the summer sunshine parked up here.

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Here is an American car I have not seen at any local events, or even ever before in the UK, an estate version of the ill-fated Edsel. Viewed with some disdain when new, and not necessarily with due justification, this period piece was worth a long hard look, with so many details to take in and enjoy.

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The first generation Zephyr, like this one,  was Ford’s large car offering for the first half of the 1950s. Viewed nowadays it does not seem all that big at all.

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Complementing this model were the smaller Prefect and Anglia cars that first appeared in 1953. They were replaced by the reverse angle rear window Anglia 105E in 1959, but the Prefect lived on, and a new Popular was introduced as a cheap entry point in the range. Basic most definitely is the word.

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This Consul Classic would appear to be a regular at events in the Bristol area, as I have seen it several times now. A nice survivor of a range that really did not wow the market when launched in 1961, was overshadowed by the Cortina in 1962 and production of which ceased in late 1963.

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Far more successful was the Capri and among the cars on show was one of the last of the model, dating from 1986 as well as an earlier Series 3, and a Mark 2.

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I loved this Crayford converted Capri when I came across it in Queens Square a month ago, and it was good to find another of the Kent firm’s conversions with a Mark 2 Cortina also on show.

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This Cortina Crusader is one of the limited edition cars produced in 1982 to help clear stocks of Britain’s long time best seller ready for the arrival of the very different Sierra.

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Attracting lots of interest was this Escort based Motorhome. I thought it looked familiar and having checked, I saw it at the New Year meet at Andoversford. Registered on Gloucestershire plates, it has not moved far away from base in the 40 years since it was first sold.

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There are quite a lot of Mustangs in the UK, but most of them are the first generation cars. So it was quite a surprised to come across this, a fourth generation car.

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This was another chance for me to see the 1965 Thunderbird which had been in Queens Square earlier in the day.

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A couple of 1960s family cars here, the Series V Minx and the larger Super Minx which was introduced in 1961 as a partial replacement and to extend the Hillman range upwards for those looking for a bigger car.

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There was an incredibly “used” looking Imp Caledonian which apparently is on the road every day at the event, but this much more neatly presented Super model was the one which attracted my camera.

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The Jaguar Enthusiast Club had a display area with a number of cars which ranged from E Types through to the more recent XK8 models. There were a few other Jaguars elsewhere in the event, too.

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A lovely example of the Gamma Coupe, a car the ownership of which still strikes into most enthusiasts, even though we all think it is a splendid machine.

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One of the largest cars on show, big even by American standards. was this 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible.  A vast car!

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Hard to think that the W201 Mercedes, the first small-ish car for a long time from Mercedes is now over 30 years old. This is a late model with the different bumpers being the best recognition point.

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There were surprisingly few MG at the event, but among those present were a TD a B GT and the much more recent MG RV8

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Nicest of the Mini on show were two beautifully presented Vans, which had clearly had a lot of money lavished on returning them to better than new condition.

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There were several saloon models as well, ranging from the everday models to the Cooper, including one of the last 1971 cars.

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Having been surprised by the sight of a Sigma earlier in the day at Queens Square, I was less taken aback when it arrived on site here as well, giving me a chance for a closer look. The owners turned out to be a young lad, though I never did manage to find out if there was any particular reason why he had this particular car.

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The evergreen Minor was of course much in evidence with saloon, Traveller and Tourer models.

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Despite the best efforts of Top Gear to decimate the population, there are still quite a few surviving Marina, but they are mostly Saloon and Coupe models, Estate cars like this one are rare. This is a late version of the Series 1 car.

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Although available in the UK, most sales of the Metropolitan were made in America, where is open top and bright colour paintwork endeared it, even if the rather puny BMC engines meant that it was more about show than go.

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The M12 3GTO sports car.

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There had been a Monza in Queens Sqqare in the morning, but it was an example of the later facelifted car, whereas this is how the model was first presented in 1978.

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There was also an example of the second generation Manta.

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An example of the Lima, a cheaper model than the cars Panther had previously produced, this one was based on Vauxhall Viva components.

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There were several Plymouth cars on display, all of which I had seen either at Queens Square earlier in the year, or even at this event a couple of years ago.

1948 Special de Luxe.

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1957 Savoy

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1970 Roadrunner

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1970 Duster

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Quite a surprised to come across this, a Grand Am coupe dating from around 10 years ago. Not highly regarded when new, and less so now, it is a testament for someone’s affection for the car that they took the trouble to bring it over the Atlantic.

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The long running 911 was much in evidence here, just as it been at Queens Square, and indeed some of the display cars were the same ones.

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The Vanguard was unashamedly aimed at export markets, especially America when it was first launched in 1948, with its fastback styling that resembled many US designs. Phase 2 cars like this one had the fastback cut away with a more obvious separate boot, but even so they still retained their transatlantic look and feel.

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One of the prime contenders for prettiest ever American car has to be Raymond Loewy’st Golden Hawk. A very lovely car but sadly, not sufficient to save this once proud marque from the fall of sales that led to their ultimate demise a few years later.

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Sunbeam replaced all the sports models with Arrow based designs in 1967/8, and this is the entry level version, the Alpine. In many ways this was a nicer car than the Capri, but it sold in tiny quantities compared to the Ford, and thanks to a fearful reputation for rust, survivors are rare.

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Nice to see a Doretti, the short lived rebody of Triumph’s TR2.

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Although the height of popularity for the quirky Trabant has perhaps passed, there are still a good number of survivors that are in the UK, and this is one of the well kept ones.

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Just as earlier in the day, there were plenty of Stags, but most of them were different cars from the Queens Square gathering.

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The local section of the TR Register had an array of models, ranging from a TR2 to a TR6. I still cannot work out why the owner of the TR5 on seeing me taking some time to compose a shot of his car felt the need to rush over, with his mouth half full of the sandwich he was eating, fiddle with the car, open the bonnet and then return to his lunch. It was not as if I asked him to do so, and nor had anyone else. I rewarded his intervention by not taking a picture of his car.

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No such problem in getting a picture of this pretty Series 3 Spitfire.

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I do have a soft spot for the big Triumphs of the 1970s, like this 2500S. I always preferred these to their Rover P6 rivals, and still do.

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There were plenty of what I have to assume are much-loved Vauxhalls, mostly early Astra. They were also much modified, and the camera had a refusal fit, concentrating instead on this first generation Nova, in GTE (though badged the Opel way, as a GSi Nova.

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This Chevette was one of three., and again the only unmodified one.

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Mark 1 Polos are cars you rarely see these days, even though they were very popular when new, despite the fact that they were quite a bit more expensive than the Fiesta and Renault R5.

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There were plenty of early Golfs, too, with a mixture of Cabrio and GTi models on display.

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A nice 1500, though the painted wheel hubs do rather detract from the appearance of originality.

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Entry to this event was just a fiver, and there was a coupon in the local paper which would have allowed me to bring in a second person for no additional cost, so compared to more costly events, perhaps I should not have set my expectations too high. there were some interesting cars, though I have to say that most of them have also been seen at the monthly Queens Square Breakfast Club gatherings, so it was worth going, and probably worth the admission cost, but it would not really have been worth making a long journey to attend (though listening to the commentary, it was clear a few people had). If the diary is clear when the 2014 event takes place, I am sure I will pop over (it’s only 15 minutes from home), but if there are other things going on, I probably won’t be unduly upset at missing it.

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