After many years of abscence, in 2013 I finally made it back down to the Bristol Classic Car Show which, slightly ironically and as a change to when I was last there, is now held many miles away from that famous city at the Bath and West Showground near Shepton Mallet in Somerset.
Travelling via Bath to collect our Mégane RS from some warranty work and drop off a completely strangled 1.2 Clio, which only managed to average 43mpg even after I gave up extracting any level of performance from it, I meandered my way through some beautiful countryside down to Somerset’s premier show location. As I was also due to assist Bristol Motor Club run their open invitation classic car Autotest, more on which later, entry was via the exhibitors gate with parking immediately behind the venue. Meeting up with Chris ‘Scrutineering’ Dymock on arrival our first decision was to quickly tour the site and find out what this show is all about.
The first and most obvious observation is the new venue enables the show to be far bigger that I remember and blessed by a sunny April Saturday arguably the many cars displayed outside had the better location choice than those stuck inside the converted cattle market halls. If the weather had been less than favourable then that may of course have been a completely different story. Basking in the sunshine were a wide range of cars from the usual MGB’s, Midget’s and Mini’s to some tasty Escort’s, one or two Capri’s through to Triumph TR’s of all eras, American muscle cars and rarities like the Vauxhall Victor FD, Daimler SP250 ‘Dart’ and one early Morgan 4/4 affectionately named ‘Little Fart’.
Not to be out done by those enjoying the weather outside the stands inside were grouped together by car club and marque and included an original Morgan 3 Wheeler with Jap motorcycle engine mounted up front. A car that proves just how close in looks at least the modern day M3W is; fair play to Morgan on that score. Also inside were, amongst many others, the Deux Chevaux, Reliant, and Landcrab clubs who all offer affordable entry into what should prove to be fun and quirky classic car ownership. Hidden amongst the cameo displays and next to ‘my Dad had one of those’ Sunbeam Rapier stand was an absolutely awesome looking Opel Manta 400, sporting massive rear arches and extremely wide tyres. Show goers could also take advantage of the many trade stands offering tools, toys, tape and t-shirts and everything else in between at bargain show rates.
Charterhouse provided the regulatory auction and there was a truly eclectic mix from vintage Rolls-Royce to sit up and beg Ford Pop hot rod and Ford T-Bird on a trailer which looked like it might be best left exactly where it was given the extent of the corrosion. I’m no expert but it was difficult to imagine where you would start and what you would save if a restoration was attempted. Tucked away in one corner was a much newer Peugeot 406 Coupe and although unusual at an event like this it did make me suddenly appreciate the skill of Pininfarina in penning some stunning cars, even when beginning with rep-mobile starting points.
Bristol Motor Club was keen to link classic cars and competition together and had set up an Autotest course out back for owners to have a go themselves. Although this didn’t attract a glut of classic cars queuing; Dave Greenslade (MX5) and Ady Taylor (205GTi) were kept very busy with passenger rides at £5 a go, great fun judging by the screams of joy coming from both cars. It was however fantastic to see Mark Rivron take part in his dark green rally prepared Corsair powered by a Ford 2000cc V4 and Mark Lloyd in his cool in white left hand drive 2 door MKII Cortina, powered by a Ford 1600cc x-Flow.
I sat in with both Messrs Rivron and Lloyd and the difference in how the two cars handled was vast. The relatively softly sprung Corsair pitched and rolled its way around the course with Mark having great difficulty in getting the back end to break away and avoid the dreaded understeer on the by now well polished sealed surface. Despite the slippery conditions each run got quicker and there was no lack of commitment from the car’s pilot, meaning it was probably best it ended when it did given the lateness of some braking in the end.
Local man Mark Lloyd of MarksDanes Ltd was next up whilst being cheered along by his two daughters navigating the very tidy Cortina around the cones. The deep growl coming from under the bonnet hinted at some decent performance on tap and sat inside the car stayed nice and flat, cornered hard and pulled up fast. In fact it was only clipping one cone that pushed the Cortina behind the Corsair through penalties to leave the Classic Car Autotest result for Saturday as Corsair 1st and Cortina 2nd . Well done to both for having a go and really enjoying it, as that at the end of the day was the whole purpose of running an Autotest at the Bristol Classic Car Show.
Bristol Classic Car Show has all the ingredients of the bigger shows delivered in typical laid back West Country style. Bristol Motor Club Autotest added a bit of spice to the otherwise static displays.
How does this event make you feel?
In one word: Satisfied
As a favourite meal: Sausage and onion baguette washed down with diet Coke (I know…!)
Anything Else: It doesn’t have the Cache of the bigger shows but there isn’t much missing either. Bristol MC Autotest provided added interest with squealing tyres and raspy exhaust and induction noises sounding out across the whole venue.
Key Ingredients: Ease of access, wide variety of cars and clubs present, indoor and outdoor exhibits and the Classic Car Autotest.
With thanks to Bristol Classic Car Show and Bristol Motor Club
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