Essex does the south proud by embracing its classic concours

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Author: James ElliottPublished:

When a helicopter came into land in a field adjacent to the Warren Classic concours fields on Saturday, most people looked to the skies sagely and noted that the star guest, F1 driver Max Chilton, must have arrived.

How wrong they were. Chilton had already been on-site for hours having unassumingly driven to the event with girlfriend Chloe Roberts in his dad's Old English White MGB, which was entered in the concours.

According to Chilton it lacked it a little power up hills compared to his usual steeds, but he was rather taken with the overdrive and thought it should be fitted to all cars.

In fact, as attention focused on the helicopter touching down, the modest motoring celebrity (on left) was actually anonymously helping to push a stranger's struggling-for-traction Merc on to the concours field.

For the record, he later fell in love with a class-winning XK120 and wandered around enjoying the day without the mobs of autograph hunting F1 drones that blight so many other festivals.

It all brought into perspective the fact that the most crucial element of any event is atmosphere. And the atmosphere is usually best in the early years before they become so successful that mammon and necessity threaten to gobble up the passion that spawned them.

The Warren Classic epitomised this. Even putting aside the achievements of establishing the concours in so little time and persuading 120-odd owners to bring their cars for display at a completely unknown quantity, the public clearly warmed to the picturesque venue and the event.

It was like travelling back in time to those earliest Festivals of Speed or the first Le Mans Classic when the hardcore of the UK classic car scene gathered and gorged themselves on classics.

This event is guaranteed to grow after such a fabulous first year, but, thankfully, the organisers said they were determined that that comforting feel would be retained.

The real beauty of this event, though, was the public, largely local and incredibly engaging. You know that way that northerners are always dismissing the south as snooty and unfriendly? Well, grating though it is, even as a born and bred southerner sometimes I can see what they mean. 

If there is an exception, though, it is Essex. It may get a bad press, and suffer so much snide dismissal, but there is no question that the people are incredibly warm and welcoming.

Plus, the county is a hotbed of classic cars, from the grassroots fans of locally built Fords right up to priceless collections of exotics. It was a delight to see so many of the visitors turn up in classics to put on a car show of their own in the dedicated classic car park (above).

Essex, therefore, was an inspired choice to host this concours and the public response more than justified that leap of faith.

Apologies to the many fans of Field of Dreams, but it is one of the most appalling and cloying movies of all time. Its mantra, however, is on this occasion so apt that I have to 'borrow' it.

"If you build it they will come." And they did, in their droves.

Comments

Chris Martin

Yer right James, 'build it and they will come' indeed. If you get it right anyway, and it seems the folks at the Warren Classic did just that, so it did not need Kevin Costner to swing a bat, just for a few locals to show up and see what happens. Well, I am sure there was more to it than that, but the atmosphere James so clearly describes would be crucial to making a first effort get off the ground.

I suppose Pebble Beach must have started like that once, but yes, I hope for the fans that were there now and made the first event successful that it stays a friendly low-key show without the need for oyster tents, velvet ropes and carpeted VIP areas.

Cars looked good too !

Chris M.

 

MrBenovich

I concur with Chris. While there should be (and there were) areas for the partners and VIPs of the event, the main approach was relaxed and informal. The attendees simply mingled with everyone out on the fairways and lawns eating their fix of beautiful machinery.

There were some astounding cars there and a handful with significant history and provenance. I hope they (the organisers) can maintain that for 2014. Evolving it where they can, though perhaps not inviting the Heart FM band back...

Valve Bounce

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day out and I agree with all the positive comments. There were some fabulous and unexpectedly rarified cars around. The Facel Vega HK500 'Zegato' should get a mention, what a brute.

On the negative side from a punters point of view the Concours was a complete mystery. It really needed a programme explaining the format, classes, judges and timing. I like to take something away to look at later (I maybe in the minority there!) like the Louis Vuitton used to do. There was no way of seeing what classes were or any history for the cars. There were some very interesting cars with colourful histories but if you didn't catch the owner you would never have known.

Why was that Lincoln parked outside the club house? What was the history of that green AH 100S? Why did that 911 win it's class?

I agree with MrBenovich the band and disco were not my idea of fun, but I did love the airstream stage, that was a thing of great beauty and worth a class win all by itself!

The 6C was robbed!

James Elliott

Paul,

I agree about the programme. Reckon there will be one next year.

Did you talk to the Zagato Facel owner? Fascinating project.

The Lincoln was parked there because Al Clements and I didn't have anywhere else to leave it!

I suspect you actually know all about the green 100S, but just in case you didn't, it was a deliberately low-key post-restoration unveiling of a very important car, which you can read all about in the next C&SC. Yes, we've exclusively road-tested it and it's a bit special.

No idea on the 911, you'll have to ask the judges.

I haven't got such a downer on the band as you annd Mr Benovich because they kept entertained a bunch of people who may not have hung around otherwise. I do reckon they just need to be further away (maybe put the classic car park where they were and move the band to the other side of the driving range), and the concours event needs some sort of microphone override so its announcements go out through the band's tannoy as well.

All good comments, though, will pass them on to the organisers, especially the one about having a programme.

 

 

Group Editor, C&SC

Valve Bounce

I should have realised the Lincoln was a C&SC car, you could have wiped a cloth over it!
I did talk to the chap with the Facel Vega but only briefly and only really half understood what he'd done. It sounded like he had taken an interpretation of what Zagato might have done with the HK500 (by someone in the French arm of the owners club) and built it himself, hence the quotation marks... I thought they'd done a great job and an impressive spec.
The 100S must be THAT 100S then. Very understated, glad I noticed it.

TheOpenRoad

I didn't attend the Warren Classic as I was too busy running the inaugural Stratford upon Avon Festival of Motoring. This was our first event, no concours, not just classics, but everything from 1912 motorbikes, through vintage, classic and modern cars up to a display of 4 special Jaguars - a C Type (replica), D-Type (replica), E-Type (my own) and an F-Type courtesy of the local Jaguar dealer.

No grass in site - we didn't park up in a field but on the streets and in the squares around Stratford . All the feedback was along the lines of your story - 'the most crucial element was the atmosphere'. Cars everywhere, everyone was very friendly, the Sporting Bears were providing Dream Rides.

We are now planning 2014 to be bigger and better, but still along the same lines, two runs around the countryside for the drivers and then parking up around the town for the benefit of the public.

Quentin Willson summed it at the prize giving - 'it is the busiest I have seen Stratford for 15 years'.

A write-up of the event will be on our website in the next few days http://www.shakespeare-country.co.uk/Stratford-Festival-Of-Motoring.aspx

Tony Merrygold

The Open Road

www.TheOpenRoad.co.uk

Bloggins

Good report on what sounds like a very nice event. As to the film "Field of Dreams", forget it and read the book it was based on - "Shoeless Joe Jackson" by Canadian author W.P. Kinsella.

denimjeans

Just look at those beauties! I envy people of Essex who get to see so many classic cars so often! All I can do is sit in front of the computer and ogle at the pictures of these beautiful cars! 

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