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On the ViaRETRO campsite at this year’s Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix, there was rich opportunity to impress fellow enthusiasts by pulling out the ultimate retro camping gear from the depth of your classic car boot. However, not many took that opportunity. Instead it proved to be a potpourri of modern cheap plastic and nylon from the local DIY hardware store. It just doesn’t look right and I’m not a fan. Hence, today’s subject is period-correct camping equipment.

No matter where in the world you enjoy your classic car hobby, I’m sure we’ve all witnessed the standard scenario from just about any meet, show or event: A group of fabulous classic cars beautifully lined up (though here at ViaRETRO we always make a point out of random, scattered and outright careless parking of our classics at any kind of meet – after all, symmetry is boring), and then at one end of the line-up, you get the apparently mandatory practical, cheap and modern collection of camping chairs surrounding a plastic table of similar description. These tables are almost always the stronghold for one of the most important aspects of any classic car meet: The thermo flask full of home-brewed strong coffee – or tea of course, if the geographical location of the meet happens to be within the United Kingdom. It can perhaps appear somewhat dull, but those inhabiting the campsite will usually be of a different mindset. They’re enjoying the company and the atmosphere – as we say in Danish: There’s “hygge”. This is how it SHOULD and MUST be at any classic car meet.

I really only have one complaint. Does it have to be so aesthetically unappealing? Why can’t we make an effort to equip ourselves with camping furniture and kit which is period correct to the vehicle in which we have driven to the meet? We’ve got a period correct badge bar on our classic, maybe all of two period correct home-knit embroidered pillows on the rear seat and we cherish the cars original paint as if it were blasphemy to anything but! So why not apply the same thought process to our camping gear? Surely, it too would benefit from being period correct?

My hastily executed and very unscientific research shows that certain enthusiasts don’t appreciate any kind of camping gear at all – in particular Porsche- and Ferrari-owners. I suppose they’re excused seeing as they will rarely have a boot big enough to bring the kit with them anyway. Especially as the boot is foremost used for sunglasses, caps and polo-shirts littered with respectively the Stuttgart or the Maranello logo (please note that there’s irony attached to that comment). But it would appear that most other enthusiasts approve of creating small camping sites full of “hygge” at classic car meets. It apparently demolishes social borders as well, as it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re a big-city-person or a countryside-lover, whether you drive an old Opel or vintage Rolls-Royce, or whether you’re blue-collar or white-collar. We all appreciate the virtues of a pleasant little camping site – and not least the homebrewed coffee – or tea – which inherently comes with it. But across that very wide spread of classic car enthusiasts, most seem content with unstylish and outright ugly modern camping equipment. Only very few put in the effort to seek out that perfectly matched set of period folding chairs in glorious brown and orange, the wood veneer table and of course that fabulous flowery thermo flask.

So rather impromptu, during this year’s Copenhagen Classic Grand Prix (which you can read all about here), we initiated the competition Carboot Camping Karma. The main objective is of course to make the ViaRETRO campsite even more retro and even fuller of “hygge” for CHGP 2019. The winner this year was a thoroughly unprepared Jacob Lerhøj – not for period correct camping gear, but instead for plentiful chilled Rosé and crisps served in a proper dish. For his efforts, he was awarded a Martini polo-shirt.

Next year, there will be no excuse to come unprepared. We hope everyone will embrace the challenge and significantly up their game. We at ViaRETRO can barely wait to see the results. In the meantime, if you already have your complete set of camping equipment from a bygone era tucked away in the boot of your classic car, please do share a picture with us in the replies section below…


4 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt

    Søren, I share your feelings – thoroughly! We should all apply a bit of authenticity to our camping gear shopping list. After all, It adds to the atmosphere when we’re sat around our classics in a field somewhere, telling tales about the old days.
    Finding a suitable old wood veneered table which folds nicely into the boot of one of my classics isn’t that difficult either. It seems to me that the big challenge is finding suitable chairs. Whether it’s wooden deck chairs or the cheaper steel-framed versions, they obviously need cloth centres in brown, orange and yellow. But with old chairs like this, that cloth is almost always old and brittle. If it isn’t already torn, it will the first time you attempt sitting in them!
    What do our readers do to overcome this? Where can I find suitably early-seventies fold-out chairs with cloth which will actually hold my weight for more than 10 minutes?

  2. Tony Wawryk

    Fortunately for me I shall never have to confront this issue, as camping is very far down my list of things to do – give me a decent hotel any time!

  3. YrHmblHst

    Ya know, you make a valid point, one that I agree with wholly. Over here, you seldom see epople ‘set up camp’ at car shows; oh, the pre-war and pre-pre war folks occasionally will show their cars with period correct picnic baskets and such, but thats about it. Everyone else just sets up behind their car with [modern] folding chairs and a cooler. This must cease! Accoutrements should be within the time period or so of the car. Next time I organise a little get together, this will be in the requirements; no modern plastic crap sitting behind vintage/special interest cars. Do it right or stay home.


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