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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

Above: A pas­sen­ger, dressed to im­press, alights from a 1926 Model A Ford at the Cor­bridge Clas­sic Car Show.

Be­low: The au­thor's other clas­sic, a 1977 Tri­umph 2000.

Be­low: Speed­ing along at the Good­wood Re­vival in Sus­sex. DAVID TUCKER

Above: Vin­tage Austin and Mor­ris cars at the Nor­ton Fitzwar­ren Steam Fayre in Som­er­set. CHRISTO­PHER NICHOLSON

The Bent­ley and Ri­ley mas­cots.

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