Classics on the Crick is a show that I’ve been attending for the past three years – it’s very local to me, taking place on the picturesque village green in Naphill, in the Chilterns, and each year the turnout of cars, vans and bikes has increased. This year, the organisers are claiming their best ever numbers, which is terrific news for the charity the event supports, the Air Ambulance.
I parked the Lemon alongside a very smart Guards Red 1974 911 2.7, and set off around the green as cars continued to arrive throughout the morning, ahead of the gates opening to the public at 12 noon.
The day was blessed with warm sunshine – this year has so far been very kind to classic events; at least, the ones I’ve attended – and there was a lot to look at. Classics on the Crick attracts a broad range of cars, from everyday classics such as a very smart Ford Cortina Mk.IV Estate to a spectacularly gorgeous red 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Touring – this car is beautiful from any angle, and was rarely without someone gazing at it admiringly throughout the day. A disproportionate amount of the time, that someone was me!
By mid-day there were what looked to be well over 300 vehicles parked up and the summer sun had brought in hundreds of visitors. Besides checking out the automotive splendours on display, there was also food and drink from various catering vans, or one could simply rest up in the area in front of the stage where they could “enjoy” an Elvis impersonator (sidenote: why is it that every Elvis act is based on the white jump-suit version? It’s the same with The Beatles; every Beatles tribute act seems to be based on their besuited mop-top period. Where’s the acid-drenched hippy version? But I digress). There was also the chance to win various raffle prizes, race Scalextric and radio-controlled cars and for the younger drivers in attendance, smash into each other on the dodgems. It’s a very middle-England family day out.
So, to the cars…well, considering this was a relatively low-key local show, there were many highlights. There was the usual gaggle of MGs, including a very pretty row of MGA’s, but more unusually, an example of the MG SVR coupé, from 2004. This 5.0 litre V8 beast was Italian built, finished in Longbridge, and only about 50 were made. Unfortunately, it was not a success, another “might have been” in the history of BL and its marques. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen.
There were E-Types aplenty, certainly more than 15, to the point where they became almost (almost!) common, though never less than lovely. Other Brit classics included a very handsome dark blue Jensen Interceptor, three Sunbeam Tigers, and an absolutely superb silver 1950 Jaguar XK 120.
There were also some less exotic British motors – two lovely convertibles in the shapes of a Hillman Super Minx and a 1960 Sunbeam Rapier Mk III, and a car that struck a very nostalgic chord for me, a grey 1955 Morris Oxford saloon. The first car I can remember my father having was a black one of these, and seeing this one almost brought a tear to my eye.
A car that will certainly excite at least one of our ViaRetro team was an immaculate 1974 Singer Chamois, itself parked next to a Ferrari 308GTB – a lovely example of how this event mixes it’s delights. In the same row, a fine Datsun 240Z, a staid Daimler Conquest, huge 1953 Pontiac Chieftan, a Ford Anglia van, an absolutely delightful 1960 Porsche 356B Roadster, and a 1955 Wolseley 4/44 with a little too much patina for my liking… variety is the spice of this show!
To tidy up the Brit section, but without mentioning every car, other standouts were a very handsome pair of Big Healeys, a 100/6 and a 3000, both resplendent in one of my favourite colour combinations, metallic iris blue over ivory. Add to that a number of Mini’s (from when they were still actually mini), a couple of Triumph GT6’s and among the regular Spitfires, one that had been treated to a heart transplant using a Triumph 2.5PI engine – I should think it moves along pretty niftily!
Besides the aforementioned utterly lovely 356B, my other home country was represented by a smart 1972 Porsche 911 2.4 Targa, a very fine 928 S4 and a purposeful-looking blue 911RS, which, irritatingly, turned out to another recreation. It was parked next to an equally purposeful Renault 5 GT Turbo, which in contrast seemed to be the real deal. There was a good selection from Munich, though mine was the only 02. A spectacular red 3.0CSL, a previous visitor to this show, a stunning 1974 Ceylon Gold 3.0CSi and a very cool white 1985 635CSi were present and correct, as well as a number of other examples of the marque. Not too many Mercedes-Benz, though there was an elegant maroon ’66 Pagoda 230SL to enjoy, as well as a good 1980 MB 280CE.
Americana was plentiful and most of it huge, of course! An ocean liner sized 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, a not-quite-as-massive 1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible, a less-than-elegant 1978 Mercury Cougar (from a time when US car design had gone AWOL, in my view), and a fine example of the stacked-headlamp sub-genre, a Ford Galaxie 500XL (how appropriate!). A cool 1968 Plymouth Barracuda, 1955 Chevy Bel Air (yours for £13,750), a red 1962 Mercury Comet, another massive Cadillac, this time a black ’57 Series Coupe, and a handful of Mustangs and Corvettes were also parked around the green. Perhaps the nicest American (but built by Holden in Australia!) car there, for me, was the 1934 Chevrolet Standard Roadster – love the wooden wheel spokes!
Where – or perhaps that should be when – to next? How about the funky seventies? Easily the funkiest car there was the purple VW Combi, and check out the interior! Close competition in the cool stakes came from the yellow Citroen 2CV and pale green 1972 VW bus parked side by side as if it was the 70s (or indeed the 60s, so unchanging were their designs) all over again.
Future classics? The diamond white 1988 TVR 390SE for one, and I’d include the three “banana-shaped” Lotus Elan of the early 90s, as well as three VW Corrado G60’s – both of these have future classic potential in my view. But the car which really caught my eye was a very pretty 1989 dark blue Skoda 136 Rapid. It was immaculate, and I bet it’s a lot of fun, too. A poor man’s 911??
There were a few oddities on display as well. How about, instead of a proper Lotus Elan, a Kia Elan? I had no idea there was such a thing, but it also begged the question, why? The helpful owner displayed the information that Kia had bought the design from Lotus after the Hethel-based company had ceased production of the Elan in 1995, and that this car was one of only 820 built. With only 9000 miles on the clock, it was also for sale. I have to say, the two versions looked identical (handily, there was a red Lotus nearby for comparison), yet call me a badge snob if you must, but it would be the Lotus for me, though it would possibly be less reliable!
Other strange machines? A mildly rodded Fiat Topolino, an MX-5 based MEV Exocet in JPS livery, and a 1971 Reliant Bond Bug in period vivid orange. An attempt to make the three-wheeler modern and cool, this was a pretty dramatic wedge with a very clever hinged roof opening to enable access. According to the owner, it can get very hot inside unless you take out the side screens!
Strangest of all? A 1969 Nova, as futuristic as any schoolboy doodle yet based on the most mundane of mechanicals – the VW Beetle. Built by Sterling in the US, it seems that they continue to be sold. The roof opening arrangement is extraordinary, but this example was in pretty poor condition and in need of a lot of TLC. But what a silhouette!
By about 1:30pm cars were beginning to leave, but before I do, a mention of the motorbikes and in particular, scooters. Scooters in the UK were of course adopted by the Mods and favoured heavily by fans of The Who and The Small Faces, to name but two, during the 60s, and by fans of The Jam in the 70s. Adorning their machines with as many lights and/or mirrors seemed to be a thing, and there were a couple of examples present that I swear doubled their original weight in mirrors and lights alone. At least they would be able to see clearly in front and behind them, though I’m not entirely sure how easy they were to ride!
My car of the day… well, normally, the Alfa Romeo 1900 mentioned at the beginning of this report would be a clear winner, but it had serious competition this day, plus I’ve seen it before. A gorgeous ‘Flares & Chairs’ Ferrari Dino 246 GTS made my heart leap, but the winner for me was the yellow 1978 Lancia Stratos – not only was it a great colour (though opinion differs on the wheels), but it was an actual Stratos. After being caught out by Hawk recreations at Brooklands, it was a thrill to realise this one was the genuine article; hence my winner. But that Alfa….
Finally, I should add that while there is no concours, there is an element of competition at Naphill, with the cars being divided into classes and judged by both experts and the public. My Lemon was in the popular 1966-1989 Class C, which was loaded with brilliant cars. After 4 hours in the sun, I departed to the strains of Jailhouse Rock as Elvis whipped the crowd into a stupor… time to go.