After two days of glorious spring sunshine, the forecast for the 8th March, second Sunday in the month, did not look so favourable, with grey overcast skies forecast for early on, and rain from mid-morning. Not perhaps, you might conclude, the sort of weather to encourage large numbers of people to dig their classic and interesting cars out and to head down to Queens Square the Breakfast Club meeting. How wrong could you be? I arrived on site at around 8:30am, and in the past when getting there at that time have been among the very first cars to do so. Not on this occasion. The entire square was packed out, with not just cars on the inner perimeter, but almost the whole of the outer perimeter also occupied,. almost exclusively with cars which were part of the event as opposed to those which just happened to be left there overnight. I’ve never seen such a hive of activity in all the time I’ve been coming to this event, and it was not as if everyone simply got there early, as cars continued to arrive for a good couple of hours after I did. One advantage of a small car is that I was able to tuck it in between two others on the side of the street in a space which would have been too small for most people, so duly parked up, it was time to meander around the Square and see what was there. There lots of the regular cars, but plenty that I had not seen before as well, meaning that this is a longer report with more photos than ever before.
Although there had been plenty of interest on Abarth Owners Club, most of those who had said they were coming confessed to getting the date confused and were not longer available, so in the end, there was only my car parked up, though I did see Rich Eason drive around the square but never saw his car or him after that so don’t know whether he drove away again or not.
There always seem to be a couple of Cobra style cars at this event, and this one was no exception.
Having failed to take a picture of David Roots’ Alfa Special at last weekend’s Haynes Breakfast Club meeting, I had to make amends here. Although he brings this car to lots of these meetings, so many people will have seen it, it still draws the crowds just as if it were the latest supercar (read on to find that one!).
The couple of 916 series Spiders and a GTV Cup seem to have eluded my camera, as did Nick Grange’s white 156 and a white 159 (what a failure rate on one of my favourite brands!) but at least I did capture this 147 GTA.
Representing an earlier generation was this lovely 1750 Spider.
Two classic 1930s Alvis were parked nearly next to each other. One, the black and red car is a Silver Eagle which I have seen at this event previously. The other, I think, is an SA20.
I saw a classic DBS drive around the square, but never came across it again, sadly, so it goes unphotographed, but this pair of very desirable models did not escape my camera.
There were a couple of fast Audi’s here: the recently superceded S3 model, which looked particularly subtle and the B5 generation RS4 Avant. I had an S4 version of the B5 model, and know how good and how fast it was, so can only begin to guess how rapid the RS4 model was.
It’s not often that you see a Maxi these days. Promising much, but never quite delivering it, the car “with 5 of everything” as the marketers wanted us to know (5 doors, 5 seats, 5 gears) was classic BL – great idea poorly executed and starve of development funds. It was produced from 1969 to 1981, but by the end, sales had fallen to very low levels, as buyers were more interested than style than the fact that this car was extremely roomy by any standards and yet was far shorter than all its competitors.
Something rather different is this, which is based on a late 1930s Austin, though clearly it has changed a bit from the way it left Longbridge.
Yet another rare Austin was this Gipsy. Launched in 1958, this was intended as a competitor to the Land Rover, but it never really hit the spot and the model had a short life.
A significant number of “Big Healey” models, mostly 3000 cars arrived mid morning.
Parked up with them was also the smaller “Frog Eyed” Mark 1 Sprite.
It was during the 1980s that sales of Bentleys overtook those of sister company Rolls Royce for the first time since the latter had acquired the former company in 1934. Much of this was due to the launch of the Mulsanne Turbo, and the fact that Bentley was then repositioned as a more sporting marque with the Brooklands and the Eight versions of the regular Mulsanne added to the range.
More recently, Bentley sales have increased massively, thanks largely to the success of the Continental GT Coupe and its family of Convertible and Saloon derivatives.
Nothing particularly rare or old with a BMW badge on it, but plenty of M cars, the majority of which were M3 models, though these were joined by the latest M4 and the current M5.
One of the non-M cars was this E30 model 3 Series.
This first generation Corvette was really rather splendid. I gather that they are not that good to drive, but it certainly looks the part.
Chevrolet’s saloon car offerings at the time looked like this, a 1956 210 Sedan. The “TriStar” cars produced from 1955 to 1957 are among the most coveted Chevrolets of all time, and whilst it is the 57 Bel Air which is most highly prized, all are much in demand in the US. Over here, they are not that well known apart form by enthusiasts.
Very different was this massive Van.
Chevrolet launched a new Corvette, the fourth generation car, in 1983, as a 1984 model, and this set the style for the model for many years. Never officially sold in the UK, quite a number have been imported over the years.
Another appearance for this CX GTi Turbo. Citroen responded to the enthusiasm for turbo-charging just about everything on 4 wheels that swept through the motoring scene in the early 1980s by boosting the power of their top of the range GTi model, but resisted the urge to brag about it. I guess when your aerodynamics are good to start with, you don’t need to worry about improving them by adding big spoilers which is what so many others did.
By the 1970s, Daimler was producing badge-engineered Jaguars, with slightly different trim, identified by the distinctive fluted radiator grille. Sales were small compared to the Jaguar version, so this Series 2 Daimler Sovereign would have been a rare car even when new. 1970s rust protection standards and build quality malaises mean that few have survived, so it is very rare now. Nice.
This might look like a large car to European eyes, but the Dart was actually the “compact” model in the range. Dating from 1970, there is a certain character and style to this “Swinger” version which modern day American cars don’t quite possess.
Dating from the same period is the Challenger, a very striking car in its bright green paintwork.
There were a number of Ferraris. Until late in the day, all of them were 8 cylinder cars, with a representative from each model generation from the 1970s through to recent times: 308 GTS, 348tb, F355 GTS and 360 Spider.
Just as I was doing the final few yards back to my car, I found a 575 which was clearly a late arrival.
I’ve seen this Strada Cabrio in pictures from this event, but it and I have never previously coincided. This was not a big seller when new, and Stradas don’t have the best of reputations for longevity, so it’s a surprise that there are still a few of these around. When the rain started to fall, I watched as the owner put the roof up. The boot lid slides down and you can see straight from the back of the car to the passenger compartment, so with the rear seat down, there is no bulkhead and hence no strengthening across the body. I don’t recall anyone saying that the car flexes unduly, so it mus get its rigidity from somewhere.
Lots and lots of Fords here, as I realised when I went through all the pictures. They ranged from cars you still see reasonably frequently to those which you no longer do. Starting with some in that category, there were no fewer than three examples of the Granada. Once the doyen of the Executive Car Park, there are very few of these left. A beautifully presented late model Mark 1 was joined by a couple of the neatly styled Mark 2, a Saloon in the original guise (with a rather unfortunate rear spoiler added to the boot) and the slightly brash 1981 facelift shown on an Estate model.
Going back a few years and the Mark 1 Escort was one of the best selling cars of its day, and so was pretty ubiquitous. Whilst most people bought 1100 and 1300 L and XL models, the ones everyone lusted after were the performance cars. First such was the Twin Cam, effectively a Lotus-Escort but it was never badged such, and then – in honour of its success as a rally car on the London-Mexico rally in 1970 – came the Mexico. One of the former and two of the latter were here. It was the Twin Cam that really appealed to me, as at a quick glance, this could pass for a regular saloon, but look harder and you realise it is something very special indeed.
As far as Cortina models go, there was a Series V Estate circulating that had an engine which sounded very unlike the one that Ford would have put in in when new, which I did not get a picture of, a Mark 1 Lotus Cortina, and from the Mark 2 era, the much loved 1600E as well as a rare Crayford Convertible, which also eluded my camera.
Representing two of Ford’s less successful models were a pair of stalwarts at this event: a Consul Classic and the later Corsair saloon. Neither really captured the public’s imagination, with the Classic having a short life (it had been styled before the reverse rear window Anglia, but launched two years after it), and the Corsair being replaced by big engined versions of the Mark 3 Cortina.
There were a couple of examples of Ford’s small car from the 1950s, the Anglia, Prefect and Popular.
Predating it was the Model Y based car that was Ford’s entry level offering in the late 1930s.
A real rarity is this Fiesta Fly. A small number of Ford’s small hatchback had their tops chopped off, to create a convertible.
There was one example of the Capri, a Series 3 model in 2.8i guise.
Performance cars from the late 1980s and early 1990s were represented by the Sierra and Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth and the wilder Escort RS Cosworth
There were plenty of other Fords from this era, too, with Escort RS Turbo, Cabrio and RS2000 all on show as well as a nicely preserved version of the Van.
In the best of Ford traditions of offering performance cars that are affordable, the ST and RS versions of the Focus have captured lots of people’s affection, and indeed their wallets. There were several examples here, ranging from the first generation Focus RS through ST and RS versions of the second generation car to the latest third generation ST.
Representing American Fords were a number of pick up trucks, with the more recent ones showing how they have steadily grown in size.
There was also a 1967 Mustang.
Without question, the rarest car of the day, a 1981 FSO Polonez. Once it was parked up, I had quite a chat with the owner. He has only just brought it over from Poland, and it is, he reckons, one of just 3 on the UK. Not surprisingly, he is Polish, and he saw it advertised when he had gone back to his home town a month or so ago. A wave of nostalgia overcame him, and he put in a bid to buy what was once a common car on the roads of Poland but is now apparently a rarity even there now. He said that it was never really that good a car, but that it is “fun” and definitely attracts lots of attention. It was certainly doing that during the morning.
Honda enthusiasts are still hoping for a replacement for the S2000, a much loved open top sports car which enjoyed considerable respect when new, and which still has plenty of fans today. There are no rumours to suggest that Honda has plans to oblige, sadly.
Another late lamented and unreplaced Honda is the Integra, and this is an example of the last generation that was imported to the UK.
This is an early Series 1 XJ6, from the first few months of production. Still a very elegant shape, some 46 years after it was revealed, this was always said to be one of the late Sir William Lyons’ favourite designs, and it is not hard to see why.
Parked alongside it was a more recent Jaguar styling triumph, the gorgeous F Type. I am still torn between the Coupe and the Convertible, as truth be told, both are fabulous looking cars with a sound track to die for.
Another Eastern European rarity was this Lada Riva., Or rather “Riviera” which I assume was some form of local “special edition”. Once quite a common sight, almost all the UK’s inventory of Ladas were re-imported to Russia some time ago, being converted to Left Hand Drive whilst on the boat. This one appeared to be in outstanding condition.
I saw this Huracan, but at first did not hear it. At idle, it is as quiet as your regular modern family hatchback, but to make sure we all knew it was something special, the driver did obligingly blip the throttle, which provided all the proof that this really is a Lamborghini. Needless to say, the appearance is enough to guarantee that the car pulls the crowds and this one certainly did.
If I were to pick one car to drive home in, of all that there was present, I think it would be one of these , a pair of simply fabulous Delta Integrale. The last truly desirable Lancia, the appeal of these cars ranges from the sound of the 5 cylinder engine to its reputation for steering and handling, as well as purposeful looks and an interior that is nicely trimmed, all wrapped up in a car that is just the right size. A true legend!
This glorious Appia Coupe makes regular but not all that frequent appearances here. Fearsomely expensive when new, as this was the era of exquisite quality Lancia engineering, these cars sold in tiny numbers in the UK. I seem to recall that this one did not start out here, but has been imported more recently.
Old Land Rovers – and there are plenty around, as the survival rate of them is very high – are very popular. and getting more so, so no surprise to come across a number of them here.
Looking particularly petite was this Elan Sprint.
This bright yellow Esprit is an event regular and always makes a striking sight among the lines of parked up cars.
More recent Lotus models included an Elise and the Evora
There were MX5s here, though far fewer than usual, but it was the rotary engined cars which caught my eye, with a nice second generation RX7 and the more recent RX8.
Two C63 AMGs here. One, an Estate, was so filthy that the camera said “no”, but I did capture the Saloon.
There were a number of the SL model here: a couple of the lovely R107 models and a more recent R231.
This 1967 Cougar has been in the same family since new. When launched, the Cougar was based on the Ford Mustang, though it had a completely different body and a style all of its own.
I loved this MGA, with its period whitewall tyres, though when I got close up, I could see that it still needs a certain amount of work to restore it to its former glory.
There were several examples of the later and much loved MGB as well.
The smaller Midget was also represented by this late model car which was parked immediately in front of me.
Much older was this pre-war model. I think it is probably a J2, and the bulge in the centre in front of the grille suggests that there is a housing for a supercharger.
One of the last MGs made before the 2005 demise of the company was this ZS, a car that was far better to drive than many would have believed given its rather humdrum starting point of the long lived Rover 400/45.
This Evo X was parked on the side of the street, and would have had no problems in making an exit, unlike an earlier car which was parked up in the middle of the square and whose lack of ground clearance at the front was something of a problem as he tried to depart, with expensive sound ripping noises and a front low chin spoiler looking somewhat detached at one end as he pulled away.
This 1929 Cowley is an event regular.
I’ve seen this splendid 1947 Nash de Luxe Sedan at the event a few times. A lovely period piece, this shows how although production got underway once hostilities had ceased, the styling of the cars took a while before it changed much.
Another appearance of the Figaro.
At the other end of the Nissan performance spectrum is the GT-R and there was an early example of this thunderous car here.
Never officially sold in the UK, I suspect this Opel GT is one of those cars which would have had people scratching their heads trying to guess what it was, and then being very surprised when they found it. In the 1960s, Opel made a range of rather stodgy and unimaginative cars, and the GT was intended very much to be sort of image builder for them that the Corvette had proved to be for parent company Chevrolet. Standard cars had the weedy 1100cc engine from the Kadett, which would have made them all show and no go, but you could also have the more potent 1.9 litre unit which would have been more fitting for the looks. The car did not sell particularly well, and had a short production life.
From the front, this 205GTi looked quite smart. Sadly, the back (which to prevent undue embarrassment, I did not photo) there was serious corrosion in the middle of the tailgate.
From stylish beginnings as a compact “pony car” rival to the Ford Mustang, Pontiac’s Firebird got larger and bloatier, ending up like this before the model was deleted early this century.
As ever, there were lots of 911 models at the event. Putting the pictures in a row like this allows you to see the evolution from the G Series version of the first car through 964 and 993 to the more recent 996, 997 and 991 models. Two of the very latest were here a 15 plated Turbo S which the owner had personalised (not to my taste!) and a Carrera GTS, as well as a GT3.
The Boxster and Cayman ranges were also represented, including one of the Boxster Spyder models which is a regular at this event. By mid morning with drizzle falling out of the sky, the owner had erected the slightly make-shift looking roof.
Oldest Porsche present was this fabulous 356 1600.
Other four cylinder cars included a VW-Porsche 914 and a couple of the 944 cars from the 1980s.
A couple of Scimitar models here: a GT Coupe and the version that replaced it, the GTE.
One of the first cars to leave was this R5 Monaco. A limited edition top of the range model, the Monaco trim brought with it leather seats, an unheard of luxury in a car of this size and price. This was a very nicely preserved example.
Also rather nice was this second generation Clio.
A late arrival was this Series 1 Silver Shadow.
Arriving well into the morning, and therefore not finding a parking space on the square was this very period P3 model Rover 16.
Nearly 40 years its junior was this P6 model 2000TC.
The last cars bearing Standard badging, before the Triumph moniker took over completely, were the Vanguard based cars, of which the Ensign was the cheaper version, seen here in rare Estate guise.
The BRZ that was at Haynes Museum Breakfast Club meeting was here as well, joined by some of its Toyota GT86 relatives.
I confess to having a soft spot for the Tiger, a stylish sports car that packed quite a punch thanks to the Ford V8 engine that was squeezed under the bonnet of the regular Alpine model. The market is slowly catching onto how special these cars are and prices are now rising. One for my (large) dream garage.
There was an example of the Alpine sports car which was the basis for the Tiger as well.
Also present was the Rapier, the sporting version of the “Audax” Minx range which was launched in 1955, and which ran through to 1967, during which time it was successful as a rally car as well as for road car duty.
Parked up behind the Subaru BRZ were a couple of the Toyota GT86 cars which are very similar, and which sell in far larger (it’s all relative!) quantity.
Nice to see a Supra, the 6 cylinder big brother to the popular Celica, which started off sharing the same body but when this version was launched in 1986, finding a style all of its own.
All told, there were 4 examples of the Stag here, all in different colours from the varied palette in which Triumph’s stylish, but often troublesome Grand Tourer was offered.
There were also 3 example of the 2000/2500 Saloon, one was the Mark 1 and the other were later Mark 2 cars.
I’m really wild about the colour scheme on this Herald, which is certainly not one offered by its maker when the car was new.
This little Trojan bubble car always intrigues people when they see. At one point I spotted the owner demonstrating how light it is, as he picked it up by one corner and had the front of it several inches in the air. There is a definite technique called for to get in it, as access is only by the opening front and you have to sort of fall back onto the seat.
Three TVRs that I spotted, a Tuscan, a Chimaera with a Tuscan front end and a T350C
A small number of the Maloo pickups were brought into the UK, and the Holden badges replaced with Vauxhall ones.
The 1600TL “Type 3” VW was quite popular when new, more often in Variant (Estate) form, which was a little surprising as it was costly compared to rival domestic cars, but buyers clearly liked the quality German engineering and reputation for reliability that was not a feature of BMC, Vauxhall and Ford products of the era. Like most cars of its era, though, it has largely disappeared with the few that are left generally having fallen prey to the ‘Dub customising scene, so it was nice to see this pretty original one here.
Better known, and with far more survivors, is the Beetle, and this is one of the last of the German built cars.
In many ways, the latest Golf R ticks many of the same boxes as that Delta Integrale, and is indeed a hugely desirable package in a car that would be perfectly livable with every day, and although it is over £30k to buy new, when you look at what else is available for the money, good value. No wonder it has been so well received by press and public alike.
Also representing fast Golfs was this Mark V R32 model.
WILLYS JEEP and MILITARY
A number of ex-Military vehicles were here, partly with the aim of promoting a forthcoming event, the “The Dig For Victory Show”, a 1940’s Family Festival that will take place on the 13th to 14th of June at the North Somerset Showground and also because the owners no doubt wanted a wider audience to see their prides and joy. Some had even dressed in period costume in honour of the occasion. Two of the vehicles depicted here are Willys Overland Jeep models, one of which, dating from 1942, was painted in the colours of a Royal Naval Beach Master for the 1944 Allied Invasion of France. Although we tend to think of all Jeeps produced during the Second World War as Willys models, this is not strictly accurate. as by October 1941 it had become clear that Willys Overland were struggling to meet the US Government’s demand for their Willys MB evolution and so Ford were contracted to produce licensed versions of the vehicle. These were known as the GPW (Government, P Ford speak for 80″ wheelbase, Willys licensed) and a 1942 example of this was present.
Jeep production for military use continued for several decades after the end of the Second World War. In France, Hotchkiss produced the M201 like this 1960 example until 1981 and the last “La Jeep” remained in service with the French Military until 2000.
When the UK was looking for a replacement for their Jeeps after the end of the War, one of the machines that was devised was this, which in military speak was known as a: “Truck, 1/4 ton, CT, 4×4, cargo & FFW, Austin Mk.1″ but these days it is better known by its civilian name of Austin Champ. This one dates from 1954.
This 1940 Bedford OY 3 ton truck was a hasty adaption of the civilian Bedford O series first seen in 1939.
When BL facelifted the ADO17 “LandCrab” range in 1972, the principle mechanical change was the introduction of the 6 cylinder 2200cc engine. This became the sole powerplant for the top of the range Wolseley which took on the name Six. It was produced for three years until the wedge shaped ADO71 car replaced it in March 1975.
This was an incredible assembly of cars, quite unexpectedly busy. I’ve already seen suggestions on various online forum sites where people think that they will have to arrive even earlier, just to get a parking space, and whilst a full event is indeed very welcome, I do have to wonder at what point someone (and I fear it will be the City Council) decided that the event has outgrown the venue. It has happened to the very first “Cars and Coffee” gathering in Irvine, Southern California, and it would be a shame it that fate were to befall this one, as judging by the number of people, the length of time they stayed and the comments that I heard, this event generates a lot of pleasure for an awful lot of people. Long may that continue.