Got back from Beaulieu last night with aching feet but a warm heart: this really is by far my favourite event.
You may well be able to buy a lot of this stuff on the ’net but there’s something about having it all there in front of you – and it all being sold by a curious array of great British eccentrics - that has serious charm.
To my shame I went down in a modern because the weather was predicted to be rubbish but, apart from patchy drizzle on the Saturday and a windy Sunday, I needn’t have worried.
I managed to get through about a third of the stalls on Saturday, and had every intention of seeing everything by end of play on Sunday, but, by 4pm I still had at least a field to go and was losing the will to live. In fact I hadn’t even managed, for the first time ever, to get the chance to look around the Automart.
Having said that I was feeling pretty satisfied with my purchases. Somehow my red XJ-S was at the forefront of my find and I managed to pick up a toolkit, some original ‘Leycare’ stickers, a handbook and the folder with all the ‘Leycare’ paperwork in it plus an original sales brochure.
For the white Jaguar 340, I found a rev counter and a speedo; the former has died completely and the latter has gone haywire - so I thought at £15 and £30 each they were worth a chance given that its £90-plus to get the originals refurbished.
There was another bag-load of totally unnecessary fluff of course, such as two vintage Top Trumps sets, ‘World Class Cars’ (the one I remember having as a kid) and one I’d not seen before devoted to Japanese cars.
In theory, sitting in the bar of the Holiday Inn in Eastleigh playing Japanese Top Trumps with my girlfriend on Saturday night should have been a low point of my existence, but I felt pretty good, despite the fact that Jap cars of that period are remarkably formulaic and give little scope for an interesting game.
I also bought a fantastic (and working) period illuminated Fiat dealership sign, a Jaguar MkX jigsaw puzzle, a Dionne Warwick album, with Dionne sat in a white Jaguar E-Type, and a plastic friction toy Alfa Junior Z that everyone was ignoring, but which I thought was a steal for £5 at the end of play.