The monthly impromptu gatherings of classic and interesting cars in Bristol’s Queens Square have become very popular, and it is not uncommon for all the spaces both on the inside and outside what is a fairly sizeable Georgian square to be occupied by mid morning. Even when the weather is damp and grey, there are always plenty of people keen to turn out, show off their cars, have a chat, take a few photos and leave in time for Sunday lunch. Factor in not just pent up desire for some car events after a long winter with a truly glorious spring day, with not a cloud in the sky all day, and it is no surprise that the March 2014 proved to be extremely busy. I arrived at 8:15am, and was far from the first to do so. There was more or less a constant stream of further arrivals from then on, so that by 9am the square was full, and yet cars continued to arrive for a good hour or more after that, at quite a rate. I’m sure I’ve never seen such a busy Breakfast Club as this one, ever, and although there were plenty of familiar cars, there was also plenty that I had not seen before.
I posted details of the event on Abarthisti earlier in the week, hopeful that a few fellow owners would decide to come. Response was non-existent, but even so, there were 5 Abarth 500s present during the morning, most of which do indeed belong to Abarthisti members. Most are local, and I would guess decided to come when they saw just how glorious the weather would be.
There were a number of Cobra replica models present, as always.
Without a doubt, my favourite car of the day had an Alfa badge on it. When I saw this splendid black 164 Cloverleaf arriving, I had to head towards it for a closer inspection. It turned out that the current owner bought it last autumn, and it is in fine fettle indeed, with just a bit of bubbling on the door mirror mounts (mine did that, too!), but otherwise the bodywork looked to be pretty well perfect. A truly splendid car!
There were plenty of other nice Alfa present, with Jeremy Dutton’s GTV2000 joined by a second example of the model, and there was a related Spider.
More modern Alfa included a 75 which I have seen at this event before, and a 33 which I have not.
One of a handful of pre-war cars at the event was this, an absolutely pristine Silver Eagle. By the look of it, I would guess that it has just emerged from a complete restoration.
Just a couple of Aston Martins that my camera captured, a DB7 and a V8 Vantage. There was also a DBS which for some reason I do not appear to have recorded.
A late arrival was this R8 Spider.
The A35 was a small car even when new in the 1950s, though I did hear one person reminisce on how 5 of them used to pack into one to go to Saturday afternoon football games in his youth.
Far rarer than that was this fantastic Austin Gipsy, Austin’s ill-fated effort at competing with the Land-Rover.
One “Big Healey” was parked up early on, and then a quartet more arrived in convoy during the morning.
There was also an example of the second generation Sprite, the car that was a close relative to the longer-lived MG Midget.
There are always a good number of BMWs present at this event, most of them M3 and M5 cars, and today was no exception. My favourites, by some margin, where the duo of Zinnober Red E30 cars, one of which (D555CFR) is a regular here.
One of a handful of pre-war cars present was this 1920s BSA.
This is a 1925 Type 35, which means it has a 4 cylinder engine, as opposed to the 8 cylinder of the 35B and supercharger of the 35C. There are visual differences, too, I was advised, around the length of the bonnet and the angle of the side of the radiator, but you would need to get a good look to spot them.
One of the most imposing cars of the day was this, a fabulous Coupe de Ville Convertible. Simply massive!
Equally huge was this 1976 Caprice Convertible, the last year that the Caprice was quite so huge before the launch of a smaller model, devoid of an open topped variant.
There are usually a few Corvettes at this event, and this one was no exception. A bright pair were parked up early on: a rare split-screen C2 model and a very recent C6 car with the 60th anniversary badging on it.
There were a couple of classic Chargers from the late 1960s. Fabulous!
More recent was this Viper GTS Coupe.
Nothing particularly unusual among the Ferrari present, but there were F355, 360 and 430 models all in attendance.
This diminutive Nuova 500 looked almost lost parked among the much bigger modern machinery, but it still generated a lot of interest, as these cars always do wherever they are seen.
The little Uno Selecta does appear small, too, these days, even though when launched it was a tiny bit larger than most of its then competitors.
The only other Fiat present was a late model 2000 Spider.
When I saw this colossal F750, I reached for my phone, to text Dan, knowing that he would be massively disappointed if he learned that one of these behemoths had been present and he had not seen it. Before I even got the phone ready to text, I saw him drive by in quest of a parking space, though I did wonder if he would be able to control his enthusiasm for this monster pickup while driving. It certainly proved to be quite a talking point during the event.
Just as imposing was this fantastic 1959 Thunderbird. No-one could miss it, with its bright red paint, and the interior was equally bright.
2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, and there were a couple of examples present, one from the first generation, and a Fox-bodied car from about 20 years ago.
Dating from the early 1960s was this Consul Classis. a short lived mid sized car which ran from 1961 to 1963.
Two saloon versions of the Mark 2 Consul were joined later by a Convertible model.
There was a Mark 3 Zephyr saloon, as well. This car had a body which always looked too wide for the chassis, with the wheels well inset from the wheelarches.
Among the Cortina models on show, most were Lotus versions, with a couple of Mark 1s and a mark 2, though there was also a 1600E.
Parked up on the square much later in the day was this Mark V model. Too late for the event, but I have included it here as an example of a once common car that is now a rarity.
The Escorts on show included a Mark 1 made up in the style of an RS2000, and a genuine Mark 2 RS2000, as well as (unshown) an Escort Bonus 90, a limited edition model produced at the end of the life of the third generation car. There was also an Orion saloon .
Sierra models included a lovely RS Cosworth in original hatchback guise as well as the later 4 door saloon as well as a regular 2 litre Sierra Sapphire saloon.
More recent cars included a number of hot Focus models, both ST and RS.
Backing up this replica GT40 must have been quite a challenge, as rear vision is, let’s call it, “limited”.
Oldest Ford on show was this 1930s Model Y 8hp car, an event regular.
This Prefect was an example of the immediate post war production.
Had the Ford F750 not been present, this would have seemed like a huge truck, but, large though it was, the ford made it seem almost mid-sized!
Perhaps not what you would typically think of as a “Classic”, but when did you last see a second generation Honda Civic from the early 1980s? This one was in amazing condition.
Another appearance for this “Arrrow” based Sceptre, the posh version of the Hillman Hunter.
I first caught sight of this splendid machine in my rear view mirror as I came to the bottom of the M32, and I guessed that it would be headed to Queens Square, and so it proved. Chatting with the owner, he told me that this is a Mark VIII, distinguishable from the Mark VII as it has a one piece windscreen. This car was first owned by Lord Wills (of Tobacco fame), who kept it until 1968 when it was laid up. The current owner has had it for 16 years, and had to do a lot of work on the bodywork and mechanicals, meaning that this was its first outing.
There were a number of E Type models, unsurprisingly.
Also seen now as a “classic” is this XJS, seen in open top XJS-C guise
Attracting lots of attention was this Gallardo Spider. Surprisingly, this was not the loudest car at the event…… keep reading to find what that might have been!
Another favourite (there were plenty of those today!) was this fabulous Delta Integrale. I don’t recall seeing this particular car at this event before.
I don’t seem to have a photo of the Thema Turbo that does appear quite often here, though.
There were Elans of both the front wheel and rear wheel drive kind.
The Esprit was also represented with this nice example.
Also present was this, which I assume was a replica, based on the Lotus XI.
Definitely genuine was this Seven, a Series IV, which is not as well regarded as its antecedents or the subsequent Caterham models.
Two Maserati models, a 4200 Coupe and the current Gran Cabrio.
A gold first series RX7 is a regular at this event, but there was no sign of it today. What were here, though, were example of the second and third series cars that replaced it.
The MX5 owners were out in force, as usual, with an array of NA, NB and NC models that they were displaying.
Probably the most talked about Mercedes was not the SLS AMG that made quite a stealthy arrival mid-morning, sounding just too quiet…….
…… but this lovely “fin tail” 220SE. Judging by the interior, this one has been restored, and it looked absolutely stunning. I came across it again later in the day, parked up on the side streets of Bristol.
Also rather nice was this R107 model 280SL.
A great array of MG models, as you would expect, with the MGB represented by several examples and there was the six cylinder version, the MGC, present, too.
A 1963 example of the classic Mini.
This 1920s Cowley is an event regular.
The popular Minor was represented by a Tourer and a Van.
This pale green Figaro is another event regular.
The Opel GT was a European-ised version of the short lived Saturn Sky, offered in the US for a couple of seasons until GM axed the brand. These cars were never sold in the UK, as it was not possible to engineer them for right hand drive. I drove the mechanically identical Pontiac Solstice a while back, and despite its rather unimpressive 4 cylinder engine, quite liked it, but it is definitely a car for good weather, so today was clearly a great opportunity to get it out and show it.
This late model Manta GT/E sported Irmscher decals on the side, so I suspect that it may have been the beneficiary of the tuning that this company offered to GM cars of the period.
Not for the first time were there two example of the very rare Paramount on show here. This was a British marque, founded in 1950 by WA Hudson and S Underwood from Derbyshire, the Paramount had an aluminium over wood frame body with a BMW like grille and was mounted on a separate tubular steel chassis with front transverse and rear semi elliptical leaf springs. It was originally intended to have Alvis engine and suspension but to reduce cost the production versions used Ford 10 components including the 1172cc side valve engines, but fitted with twin SU carburettors, which resulted in poor performance. The car was however well built and equipped and was listed in both 2 and 4 seat versions. In 1953, the company was bought by Camden Motors and production moved to Leighton Buzzard and the Ford Consul 1508cc engine was an option in a longer chassis as also was a Wade or Shorrocks supercharger. The price was now an uncompetitive £1009 and production ceased in 1956 after about 70 cars had been made, of which it is believed that just 8 survive and only 3 are roadworthy. The red car shown here dates from 1956 and is a 1.5 litre Roadster.
Another outing for this brightly hued 1970 RoadRunner.
One of the American cars that I’ve not seen at this event before was this, a 1969 Firebird. I do like the shape of the early Firebird (and Camaro) cars, and this one had been well cared for or well restored.
This LeMans Coupe arrived mid morning.
I’ve seen this Boxster Spyder at this event a couple of times before. With a roof that is such hard work that you would not bother. then today was the perfect opportunity to take this car and enjoy it.
There were other examples of the Boxster and Cayman as well.
There were lots of 911 cars, ranging from G Series “classic” models, right through to a 14 plated 991 Turbo S
Another appearance at this event for this very bright orange Scimitar GTE
A classic in the making? Perhaps not, but this third generation Clio Cup was parked up with everything else, and certainly scores points for being the only one of its kind there.
As well as a regular P6 model 2000TC, there was a US spec 3500S car.
There was also one of the more stately P4 models.
Not an original, of course, but this Daytona Coupe replica was still rather nice.
No fewer than 3 Tigers and an early Alpine model were present today. These cars remain massively undervalued in comparison to the more popular MGB, but they’ve always appealed to me, especially in potent V8 engined Tiger form.
Something of an usual sight were a quintet of historic tractors, a trio of David Brown, an Allis Chambers and a Massey Ferguson.
Stags were out in force, with at least 5 of them, all in different colours, present.
Not to be outdone, there were several TR models, too, with TR6 and TR8.
There were also a trio of the large 2000/2500 saloon cars, my favourite of the British duo of Rover and Triumph from the 1960s and 1970s.
Although there were not any Spitfires, there were a couple of examples of the fixed top version, the GT6.
Without doubt the smallest car of the day, this little Trojan has been to quite a few of these Breakfast Club meets, and it always attracts masses of attention, even before the owner arrives, and demonstrates the rather inelegant way in which you have to get in it.
There were plenty of TVRs present, as usual, with the highlight (until it dropped half the contents of its radiator!) being a 420SEAC, the very rare model made in the mid 1980s in tiny numbers. It was joined by another “wedge”, a 350i
More recent TVR included Chimaera, Griffith, Cerbera and Tuscan.
Another one of the “when did you last see one” cars was this Magnum 1800 Coupe. Vauxhall rebranded the larger engined versions of the HC Viva into the Magnum range in 1973, but despite their vinyl roofs and rostyle wheels, I don’t think they really fooled anyone as to what these cars were.
As well as a number of T2 Buses which I did not photograph, there were a couple of classic Beetles present.
This was a simply stunning assembly of cars, as this report will have evidenced. Not only was there lots to see, but the weather more redolent of summer than early March and the chance to catch up with a number of friends from TheMotor.net, and elsewhere made this a particularly pleasant morning out.