Great Western Autojumble – February 2014

A few years ago the long established Bristol Classic Car Show had to be postponed from its habitual mid February timing at the very last minute thanks to a blanket of snow and ice which meant that few could get their display cars to the venue. The reschedule to a Spring date proved popular, and so the organisers found a whole in the schedule which it did not take them long to fill with an event that they call the Great Western Autojumble. As events are few and far between at this time of the year, they quickly discovered that a lot of the attendees would turn up in interesting and classic machines, so they decided not just to encourage this, but to be use some of the space in the halls at the Shepton Mallett for the display of complete cars. A couple of years ago, they selected Ford as a theme, triggered by it being the 40th anniversary of the Cortina, and although the Autojumble itself was not something that I would have elected to attend,  I enjoyed a visit to the event, with the sight of not just an array of Fords, but plenty of other classics as well. For 2014 the declared theme was around the “Rock and Roll” years, which led me to suspect that there would be plenty of 1950s and 1960s American classics on show. Encouraged both by a very promising weather forecast (a nice spring like day, and one of the few times it was not going to rain since the start of December) and a discount code, I decided to pop along to have a look.

I was wrong about the display cars. There were hardly any American cars at all, but there was a whole hall of classics, brought under the auspices of a combination of One Make or geographical clubs, and – no doubt encouraged by the lovely weather – an amazing array of classics parked up outside. I did not get there til lunchtime, so doubtless missed a few cars, and quite a lot of them departed not that long after I arrived, but there was plenty to interest me and to make me feel that the £6.50 admission fee and the couple of gallons of petrol were worth it. Here are some of the highlights:


A very lovely DB6

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A very neatly presented Austin A35 Van.

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The Cambridge and Oxford Owners Club had just one car on show, this Series 2 A55 Cambridge, one of the early “Farina” cars.

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By the time this Metro was produced, it had lost its Austin badging, though it did not get its fully Rover identity until the K Series models were launched in 1990. This is one of the last A Series cars.

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This 525e was an economy-oriented version of the 5 series produced in the mid 1980s at a time when all manufacturers were responding to a marked increase in fuel price with eocnomy special cars. It was not a success, so it was quite a surprise to find that there is still on our roads!

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Also not a common sight was this E23 first generation 7 Series saloon.

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The Attwell-Wilson Motor Museum had brought along this 1965 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. An absolute monster compared to all the cars around it, it was perfectly in accord with the event theme as well, though they failed to emphasise this with any of their stand decorations.

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A rather nice C2 Corvette Stingray.

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I’ve seen this particular car a couple of times since its current owner acquired it. There are not many Fiat Strada of any type that have survived, and most of them are the 105TC and the Abarth 130TC models, so seeing one of the more prosaic ones is certainly a rare occurrence. This is not only the less commonly seen three door, but it had the very rarely specified automatic gearbox. It was attracting a lot of interest while parked up in the car park.

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Absolutely spot on for the “rock and roll” theme was this fabulous Abbott converted Mark 2 Zephyr Estate. In the 1950s, Ford did not produce their own estate models, which were always seen as the vehicle for the travelling salesman, so it was down to independent coachbuilders such as Abbott to produce cars like this. This one, resplendent in a salmon pink hue was just marvellous. Probably my favourite car of the event.

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There was a saloon version of the Mark 2 Zephyr to be found outside, along with the far less commonly seen Mark 4 model.

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The Classic and Capri Owners Club had three nice examples of their cars on show, and a further Capri was parked up outside when I arrived. These cars had a short production life, as they were designed in the mid 1950s, but delayed in going into production as priority was given to the big selling Anglia, so by the time they appeared in 1961/2, they were rather outdated. The cheaper Cortina that came out in late 1962 was the final nail in their coffin, and they faded away in 1963, replaced by the Corsair.

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There were a number of those 105E Anglia on show, one of which sported the touring option which saw the spare wheel mounted outside the car, to free up more boot space. A further pair of these models, one of them in Super Estate form, were to be found outside.

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This is a late model Mark 2 Cortina 1600E.

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This Escort Mexico was one of the cars presented by the Mendip Car Club.

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They also had a Fiesta XR2 in their display.

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Dating from the same sort of mid 1980s period was this Sierra XR4x4 and the later Sierra Sapphire Cosworth. There was also a rather tatty late model Sierra Estate (undepicted), with the asthmatic and very rattly 2.3 diesel engine. Someone must like the Sierra a lot to live with that engine as it was truly awful even when new!

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The Transit has been a mainstay of the van operator for nearly 50 years now. Most of them live a hard life, so it is rare to see an early model like this one, these days. This has the rare double rear wheel option.

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This 1970 Minx was absolutely splendid. Beautifully restored, it was almost better than it would have been when it left the factory. My father had a car very much like this – BDT567H – which was his second Minx (it was a rather insipid shade of pale grey!), and – like most cars at the time – the rust started almost before he got it out of the showroom. He always thought that a Hillman was a cut above the “blue collar” Cortina, though of course the Ford sold in far greater quantity and has survived in greater numbers.

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The Hawk was a large and luxurious car that competed with the Ford Zephyr and Vauxhall Cresta.

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A Plus 2

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Late model Midget.

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Outside I came across this relatively early MGB and  couple of MGB GT from 1973, the last full year before the rubber bumpers were added.

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There were several of the classic “Issigonis” Minis.

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This Marina 1.8 TC Coupe was the top of the range member of the car (“Beauty with brains behind it” as the ads went!) that BMC hoped would beat the Cortina in the sales charts. With terrifying understeer at launch, the TC models were not big sellers, so they are very rare now. This one was in splendid condition.

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Needless to say, there were a few examples of the ever popular Morris Minor at the event.

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This Morris 1800 rally car recreation is a frequent star of local events.

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There were a couple of the little Figaro present.

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There were examples of both the GTE and open topped GTC Scimitar in the classic car park.

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I’ve seen this splendid 20/25 at a number of other events in the area. Very majestic!

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This was an absolutely immaculate R8 model 216SLi. I remember these when they were new, and indeed drove the related 414 Si model for 3 years and 105,000 miles, and it does not seem that long ago, but in fact the launch was 25 years ago this autumn! The last cars were sold in 1995, so even the youngest are coming up to their 20th birthday. How time flies!

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Wind the clock back a further 13 years and you get to the enthusiastically received SD1. There were two of these cars on show, one of which was the pre-facelift model that you rarely see, and in entry level 2300 guise. There was also a late model 3500 car.

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There were a couple of example of the SD1’s predecessor, the P6 models, too.

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The P4 was also well represented, with a number of these oh-so-British cars of the 1950s and early 1960s in evidence.

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A couple of SAABs, a rather weather-worn 99GL and the earlier 96 V4.

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The Standard Vanguard was one of the first all new designs to be launched after the end of global hostilities. Styled very much in the same idiom as larger American cars of the late 1940s, the early cars were almost all exported.

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The Rapier was a sports coupe based on the prosaic Hillman Minx. It would have appealed to the sort of person these days who would probably buy a Golf GTI or a 3 Series.

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The 2000 was effectively the replacement for the long lived Vanguard, and bitter rival for the Rover “P6” 2000 which was premiered at the same time, the 1963 London Motor Show.  As well as an early Mark 1 saloon, there was a rather nice 2500S Estate.

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This Stag was in the rarely seen Topaz colour, a rather agreeable shade of orange. I tried to take more pictures than this one, but the car was almost constantly thronged with people looking at it.

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Among the TR models were TR6 and TR7.

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The S

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I’ve always rather liked the “coke bottle” styling of the FD Victor based cars that were made from 1967 to 1972. This is the sporting VX4/90 model, though by today’s standards “sporting” would seem to be something of an imaginative claim!

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One example of the classic Beetle.

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The Volvo Owners Club had a display with a P1800 Coupe and a convertible version of the earlier PV544 on show.

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Outside there was a 1973 145 Estate. Once a common sight when Volvos started to get popular, these cars are now a rare sight.

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I enjoyed this event. I suspect that the sunshine encouraged many to attend, and that is what swelled the car park with things that were well worth seeing. Without them, you would really need to be interested in the Autojumble (which did not appear to be that large), to make a long journey worthwhile. As such, it’s not an automatic for my 2015 diary, but don’t be surprised to be reading a report on it in twelve months time!

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