Classic Sports Car

Buckley’s deals on wheels


Taking two first-timers to the NEC Classic Motor Show in November was an interestin­g experience for me. Firstly, I was horrified at the cost of tickets these days. At c£38 each, it astonished me how busy it was: with food and parking, an average family could easily burn £300 before they had bought any knick-knaks or paid for the fuel to get them there. The extortiona­te price of food is one thing, but having to wait 20 minutes queuing for a coffee seemed an indignity too far.

Having said that, the clubs all do a great job and there is always something new to look at: I spotted an Alfa 90 complete with the near-mythical fitted dashboard suitcase, which was impressive. I also managed to buy a 1960s Motor road-test annual, which is a minimum requiremen­t for this event. My pal Hari was hell-bent on finding a Big Healey or an E-type, but then fell head-overheels in love with the ex-britt Ekland, Viotti-bodied Bristol 407 on the Bristol Ownersʼ Club stand. So much so that, having learned the six-figure asking price, he went straight off to buy himself a lottery ticket.

I actually did two days at the Birmingham show, firstly on the Friday with my friend John Worker, the former Leyland stylist (and a fellow Lancia Gamma sympathise­r), who had a highly successful career designing trucks, buses and in general industrial design, but served his formative years at Ogle and British Leyland – doing the ʻSotheby Specialʼ Aston Martin DBS V8, making major contributi­ons to the Scimitar GTE and, perhaps most significan­tly, the ʻwedgeʼ Austin Princess, which looks better with every passing year.

I think my Audi A2 is about to exit stage left after a £350 sort-out, the reason being that the arrival of a Fiat Panda has made me realise that I just donʼt like driving the Audi very much. The Panda rides much better, has a nicer gearchange and is just easier to live with. That said, I managed to burn the poor little Fiat to the ground last week after it conked out inexplicab­ly, so we are looking for a Ulez-friendly substitute.

Maybe a Chrysler/lancia Delta will do the job. Gamma guru Charles Shelton popped round in his, and kindly let me have a drive. I could certainly live with it, but I pine for the days when I drove my muchmissed Flavia 2000 Coupé as a daily driver without a thought.

Away from the tedious requiremen­ts of the real world, Iʼve recently captured a manual Fiat 130 Coupé and, even more excitingly, I may at long last be about to buy a Lancia Flavia Zagato, which is a long-coveted machine – although I did own a project car 20 years ago.

 ?? ?? Martin’s NEC companion was seduced by the Viotti Bristol (C&SC, Nov ’06)
Martin’s NEC companion was seduced by the Viotti Bristol (C&SC, Nov ’06)
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