The trouble with Socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money If you are young and not liberal then you have no heart. If you are old and not conservative then you have no brain
beautiful car alongside those of your fortunate fellows, usually in the manicured grounds of a stately home. These events could inspire awe amongst visitors — and envy amongst owners of less-exalted but equally-cherished cars. Thus shows for MGS, Morris Minors, Jowett Javelins, Austin Sevens and numerous others began to occur, but a much-loved Hillman Minx or Vauxhall Cresta would have nowhere to go. The real change came when enthusiasts for individual makes saw the economic sense of boosting attendance by pooling their cars at shows. Venues were happy to open their gates to a wider public with an increasing fascination for heritage and nostalgia, and the passage of time and sway of fashion lent their cachet to any cherished vehicle. Now once-humble motor cars can gleam alongside the most expensive models. They don’t even have to gleam. Cars under restoration or in everyday use, far from concours (top competition)standard, are welcomed with interest. If a car carries home a cup, plaque or rosette, it is likely to have been awarded not by a white-overalled expert judge but by a people’s vote. At today’s egalitarian and accessible shows, cars of all ages and types inspire genuine affection among the hordes of visitors, more than a few of whom exhibit the “my dad had one of those”, “can I sit in it, please?” and “we wish we’d kept ours” syndromes. Some go home inspired to find a classic of their own.
The owners obviously take a personal delight in their cars but they enjoy giving pleasure to others. And pleasure for others is really what these shows are about. They are family-friendly events and most certainly not an enclave of unapproachable petrol-heads gazing up one another’s exhaust pipes…which brings me to demolish some other preconceptions. Where, in these swelling crowds, are the men of a certain age, emerging from their sheds with oily rags and pieces of rusty metal? Where are members of the tweedy brigade reminiscing about Brooklands? Where are the boy racers with lowered suspensions and big speakers? You might find a few clichés if you look hard enough, but they will be hugely outnumbered by jovial families enjoying an easygoing day out. And just for the record — giving sexism, ageism and wealthism the boot — there are plenty of lady owners who know their cars inside out, plenty of young people happy to gain knowledge from the more experienced, and plenty of people enjoying all this on a strict budget.
A notion persists that historic vehicles must be an extravagant passion costing fortunes. This is simply not true. Certain models are famously expensive to buy, but most are