Port comes clean with a post-Thatcham admission of guilt

| 10 Oct 2011

Each year I run a little car show. It's nothing major - people turn up if they feel inclined to do so and they're welcomed, providing they bring a car, bike, commercial or military vehicle. It doesn't even necessarily have to be a 'classic' - as long as it's deemed interesting to enthusiasts then it can have a place on the field. Entry is free and we only pester people to throw a couple of quid into a charity bucket.This weekend saw the fifth running of the event - cunningly named 'Thatcham Classic' on account of the fact that it's located in the small town of Thatcham in West Berkshire. Despite the weather forecast which threatened rain, we managed to get through the day with all remaining dry - something that, remarkably, we have done since we started the show in 2006.

As a result, the first cars arrived almost an hour and a half before the official start time and kept arriving even as we were packing away at 3pm. The total number of cars on the field was in the region of 250 - an increase from last year and a sizeable step from the 20 cars that the show kicked off with at its inception.Simon Taylor brought the HWM-Chevrolet Stovebolt Special along, much to the enjoyment of other attendees and quickly the field filled with everything from Willys Jeeps to a Tojeiro-Bristol.

So why am I telling you this? Well, the peculiar thing is that I don't really like car shows. At the start of my obsession, I used to spend money I could ill afford and time that could have been used elsewhere navigating my way around the country to various shows.National shows, county shows, pub meets. I would polish whichever classic I had and happily deposit it on arrival - in a field, on an airfield or in a corner of a car park. Bliss.But eventually something changed. I can only speculate as to what it was, but it's fair to say that I became bored with the ritual and, with my disappearing enthusiasm for this aspect of classic ownership, went too my attendance.Naturally this revelation comes with an apology. To anyone who has ever organised a car show: I'm sorry. To all of those enthusiasts who spend hours detailing their classics and drive across the country to let others see them: I'm sorry. To all the clubs who spend months devising innovative ways to display their cars in uninspiring, drafty halls: I'm sorry. However, before you all decide to boycott next year's Thatcham Classic, or run to pick up your pins and start repeatedly stabbing them into a small effigy of yours truly, I think there is a valid reason for my ambivalence. Just as I don't much enjoy walking around a field looking at cars, neither do I much enjoy watching cars go round a track any more.The deeper I have become involved in the classic world, the more I do and there is the crux of the situation. I used to enjoy pitching up at a racetrack and watch classics do battle on the tarmac. Then I had a go myself and realised that that was much more fun. I used to enjoy watching someone else fix my cars, but as my knowledge grew, so did the enjoyment of doing it myself. I used to enjoy going to car shows, and then I organised one myself. I think you see the pattern developing…So, my disinterest in standing in a field full of cars isn't down to a lack of enthusiasm or interest in what other people have to offer. It has simply been usurped by the feeling I get from watching the cars roll in and people enjoying themselves, knowing that I have had a small hand in its creation. Can't get no satisfaction? Try organising a classic car show instead.