We don’t normally feature the smaller local shows on ViaRETRO, but this week’s Gerrards Cross Classic Car Show raised a few interesting questions, posed largely by the day of the week on which it’s held.
- Who organises a classic car show – or any show – for a Wednesday afternoon?
- Who’s around to bring their classic?
- Who’s able to visit the show?
Well, the Gerrards Cross Classic Car Show celebrated its 10th anniversary last Wednesday, attracting about 140 cars (including die Zitrone for the second time) almost entirely from within a few miles radius, and a steady stream of local workers on lunch breaks, parents with children on school holidays, and retired folk with time on their hands – like your correspondent.
The event is organised by three local charity groups – the Abbeyfield, which offers residential care for the elderly, the Gerrards Cross Community Association, which provides a home at the Memorial Centre for local clubs, societies, a youth centre and adult education facilities, and not least the local Rotary Club branch. The money raised by the event is split between these groups and is held on the grounds of the Memorial Centre, on the edge of the town.
As such, it’s as local as any local show can be, but no less interesting for that. Gerrards Cross and neighbouring Chalfont St. Peter are two of the wealthiest towns in the UK, and it would seem that a good number of residents like to run a classic or two. There were no car club or dealer stands, only a couple of small trade stands, and some support from restorers Templar and Wilde (who perform the required work on die Zitrone, as it happens). Crucially, there’s a café and bar, run by local volunteers, of course.
Last year, the event was effectively washed out by heavy rain, but it made a strong comeback on this anniversary with a fully-booked show on a bright August day as pre-1987 classics were found space in every corner of the grounds.
Even a show as relatively small as this provided a rich smorgasbord of classics from across the decades.
The oldest car on show was a 1906 Humber Coventry, which the owner freely admitted over a coffee was a pig to drive, and not financially worth anything like the hours and effort he had put in to restoring and running the car. He had the vintage vehicle “repatriated from New Zealand as a collection of bits”, but he loved it nonetheless – a proper classic enthusiast. And it is truly a lovely thing.
Another superb between-the-wars classic was a recently restored 1937 Bentley 4 ¼ litre drophead by James Young with intriguing sliding-door arrangement. According to the owner, they had completed three extensive European trips since the restoration, all without trouble. I was equally impressed with a stunning blue 1936 Riley Nine Drophead with one of the coolest radiator mascots I’ve ever seen – a skier, complete with ski-poles!
There were of course a few of the type of cars which you might expect at such a show. The immaculate red Triumph TR4A IRS parked next to me had been with the same owner for over 30 years – a proper “keeper” then. Add to that a couple of gorgeous Jaguar XK 120’s, a perfect Porsche 356 Speedster, a variety of MG’s from a 1935 Magnette KN pillarless saloon in a lustrous dark green, up to the ubiquitous B’s, and yes, Dave, just for you, three E-Types.
But there were also several lovely surprises in the form of everyday cars of yesteryear. A red Cortina Mk II complete with original dealer order and invoice – for £791 and 2 shillings, less £10 deposit! A medium-blue Ponton Mercedes-Benz 180 that the owner had picked up in Italy and driven home – the car was in far from perfect condition, but was just perfect nevertheless. Two cars up from me was a very tidy Ford Capri 1600XL – the owner is still looking for a 1600 badge for one side of the car!
Perhaps the ultimate keeper on show was a lovely 1962 Hillman Super Minx Convertible which had only been with two lady owners, the second having run the car since 1964! It was in outstanding condition, yet never restored. 54 years in the same ownership and clearly much loved.
Various Mustangs, Corvettes, Thunderbirds and at least one extravagant Cadillac seem to show up at most events, and they were present and correct here as well, but the most interesting US metal to turn up came in the extraordinary shape of a sleek 1955 Studebaker Commander in striking green and yellow, with a heavily chromed front end.
This is a delightful local show, organised by locals for locals, and proves that bigger isn’t always better. Yes, the fact that it takes place in a wealthy area means that you’re guaranteed some beautiful and expensive machinery will show up (unusually, not one Aston Martin this year), but then you also get lovely examples of ordinary but cherished family cars such as the 1968 Riley Kestrel, a “coke-bottle” Ford Cortina Mk III from 1972, and that Hillman Super Minx, my car of the day – not for what it is, but what it represents. Classic car shows on a Wednesday? Yes please, keep ‘em coming…