Another summer over, and with it comes yet another Thatcham Classic – the little car show that I ‘organise’ each year.
This was the eighth show (I think), and each year it has grown impressively – from the 20 or so cars we had in 2006, to nearly 250 last year, but this year numbers were down slightly. Why? Well I am going to lay the blame clearly at the doorstep of the Met Office.
All week the forecasters had been, er, forecasting rain for the day of the show. On Monday it was suggesting a light drizzle would dampen proceedings – fair enough, we can cope with that, but by Wednesday it was showing heavy rain from the moment I would wake up to the moment I would go to sleep.
It wasn’t just isolated to one of the numerous weather Apps on my iPhone either – the telly, the internet and the smartphone were all singing the same song and I began to think that perhaps this year would be the first cancellation of this ‘cars in field’ event. I would be okay – I had a Land-Rover and would almost relish a trip around a soggy showground, but those with rather more ‘sensitive’ classics might struggle.
I checked the forecast once more before going to bed and made a mental note to pack the umbrella and a spare pair of boots in the morning before my head hit the pillow.
Several hours later and I awoke to the sound of torrential rain hammering down on the Land-Rover’s tilt beneath our bedroom window before drifting back off to sleep with images of an Alfa Romeo sinking in the mud…
When the alarm went off the next morning, I switched on my phone only to be welcomed by a couple of emails from food vendors that had been booked for the show: “Sorry, my stall doesn’t do well in the wind and rain”, and “You probably won’t have many people turn up so it’s not really going to be worth me coming”. This really was going from bad to worse and in my mind I decided that this would be the last Thatcham Classic – certainly that I would organize…
Then something odd happened. Something so predictable that I should have saved myself the stress of worrying all along: yep, you guessed it. The sun came out.
And that’s pretty much how it stayed all day. People came from far and wide with the most amazing variety of classics and visitors ambled among the cars making mental shopping lists of classics they hadn’t thought of before. Terry the Burger Van Man did a healthy trade and secretly thanked the less hardy vendors for not turning up, while posh coffee was served in style out of the back of a converted Citröen H-van.
Towards the end of the day, the first car and owner on the field was also the last – having enjoyed a day of chat with others in the warm Autumnal sunshine and after a quick tally, Mrs P and I hit the ‘donate’ button to the tune of £450 to our usual charity, Macmillan Cancer Support thanks to money raised by visitors to the show.
As people thanked me for organizing the show, I had to remind them that there wouldn’t be a show if the owners hadn’t turned up, but once again I was overwhelmed by the support. Much like the weather, my mind had done a u-turn and I was by this point already thinking about 2014, but there was one image that I couldn’t shake from my head.
During the course of the day we had three pre-war Rolls-Royces (one of which was undoubtedly the most valuable car in attendance), a stunning Corvette which walked off with our Best in Show award and a Ferrari 612 (I think!), but the buzz that surrounded Mervyn Sanders as he trundled onto the field in his 1949 Ferguson tractor very nearly trumped all of those.
It goes without saying that I was over the moon to see something more agricultural than my Landie turn up, but what amazed me was the crowd that the little grey Fergie pulled, including half a dozen teenagers that sped over on their bikes to have a look. It made me realise that in this hobby, we are all just big kids at heart. Big kids who love tractors and that shouldn’t trust weather forecasters.