This classic car show was held on the lawns of Christchurch Quay, Christchurch in Southern England. The number of visitors was not known, as entry to the show was free. However, the organizers (Classic Cars on The Prom 2019) estimated that some 380 classic vehicles took part. The only qualification for displaying at this show was any vehicle that was manufactured before 31st July 1983.
That meant there were cars from just before World War I, mixing it with the younger flash upstarts from the 1970s and 1980s. A Rolls Royce from the 1920s looked across at a Mini from the 1960s. A 1949 Land Rover was near a Volvo, that would not look out of place on a set where they filmed The Saint with Roger Moore in the lead. A Green Goddess fire engine cast a huge shadow on the lawn, and was a vehicle for memories of some of Britain’s darkest hours during the 1970s when firemen went on strike. A cluster or ‘camp,’ as my wife described it, of Volkswagen camper van huddled in a semi-circle sheltering their owners from the bitterly cold wind.
There was something for everyone with an interest in classic cars, trucks, and motorbikes, and the motoring heritage that they represent.
It was the newer ones with flashy body work and extensively modified engines that were the shell suited nouveau bad boys. Garish colours and crackling exhausts broke the sedate, and almost reverential respect visitors had for the true classic cars.
An especially loud and garish car revved impatiently as it lined up to leave. Its crackling exhaust sounded like rapid fire from an automatic rifle. It went past one classic car owner who muttered: ‘So, you got an engine, was it a Christmas present?’
The 1949 Series I SWB Land Rover
The Land Rover I liked was the 1949 Series I model with a short wheel base. This functional work horse has been owned by the same man for over thirty years, which as he admitted was longer than he has been married. I promised not to quote him on the comparisons he made between his wife and his much-loved Land Rover so I won’t.
The paint work was the original factory green. It was chipped and had a few scratches, but that was part of its charm. And the small sign on the front summed up this lack of renovation succinctly:
‘Restoration—no thanks—love me for what I am’.
A few yards from the Land Rover was the antithesis of functionality unless if you are involved in endurance motor racing.
Why did you buy this car? Answer: 'Life is too short'.
There were the sleek aerodynamic lines of a 1969 Ford GT40 MkII. In absolute showroom condition, and decked out in the famous Gulf Oil livery. It oozed power. It oozed class. It was an example from the stables of this iconic design from Ford. The design was inspired from a grudge Henry Ford II had against Ferrari over a failed business deal. It was Ford’s four wheel equivalent of shock and awe to take on their dominance of endurance racing. The first attempt was at the Nürburgring, where a couple of mechanical failures meant an early retirement and an ignominious retreat to the workshops.
Then it all came right at Le Mans when from 1966 to 1969 the GT40 won four years consecutively, making Ford the first American manufacturer and designer to beat the Europeans on their own territory. The highlight of those four years came in 1966, when GT40s took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, after 24 hours of grueling racing.
There was no need for this car to make any noise at all. Its pedigree did all the talking. It sat quietly being admired by young and old alike. The young wished and hoped they could own one. The old looked and wondered how their backs and knees would cope with squeezing into the forty-inch high cockpit.
Such stuff dreams are made of and we can all dream, which is what car shows are really about.