With everything from a Matra Bagheera and Amphicar to a 15-litre Berliet truck, a couple of Ferrari F40s and a two-stroke Trojan, this year's Classics on the Common blew thousands of visitors away with its unrivalled diversity.The amazing turnout for the long-running (now in it's 18th year) annual Harpenden event on 27 July was boosted by fine weather and the growing enthusiasm for classic owners to display their cars, be it a six-figure exotic or bargain basement classic.
An estimated 1500+ cars were packed into the two fields with the numbers boosted by new organisers, the local Rotary Club’s decision to open the gates a couple of hours earlier at 2pm.And as usual it wasn't just the amazing diversity that impressed but the juxtaposition of different makes and genre of cars: where else would you see a Matra Bagheera parked up next to an Allard (below) or a Lancia Lambda alongside that famous iron-curtain icon, the Trabant?
The Bagheera (above) is one of just five road-worthy examples left in
the UK. Owner Marion Quarrington swapped her husband's MGB GT V8 to get the keys for the freshly-restored three-seater six years ago. "We've taken it back to the factory in France and it gets looks wherever it goes," explained Quarrington.Other unusual delights included Frazer Sloan's vintage Trojan (below), which he drove over from Hertfrod ford.
Sloan bought it from its first owner (from the New Forest) and refreshed it to get it back on the road. “It’s only done 45,000 miles,” said Sloan who intrigued show goers by removing the car’s floorboards to reveal its mid-mounted engine and chain drive transmission. "It's my second - my Dad bought me one when I was eleven which I learnt to drive with on the farm."Arguably even more unusual was Dave Morris’ 1959 15-litre, six-cylinder Berliet lorry (below), which Morris snapped up on ebay four months ago.
“It runs on mixed petrol and diesel,” said Morris, “which costs nothing because garages would otherwise pay to have it taken away which is just as well as it only does 5mpg!” Being a pre-1960 military vehicle means Morris doesn’t need an MoT for the Berliet.Another oil burner was Bob Coxshall’s much-travelled, MB club concours-winning 1953 Mercedes-Benz 170SV (below). One of a handful of right-hand-drive diesel examples, Coxshall’s car was a daily driver for ten years before he restored it over seven years from 1990.
More conventional classics included Alex’s Twitchell’s gorgeous 1965 Giulia Sprint GT while his father Barry brought his Champagne-coloured Iso Grifo along (below - see C&SC Dec '06 for a feature on it).
Another exotic crowd-puller was John Bonafoux's recently-restored 1960 AC Ace (below) which he drove up from Southampton. "It's only done 22,000 miles as it was off the road for over 40 years," explained Bonafoux who has kept it as original as possible. "The leather and carpets are as they left the factory."
And there was plenty of competition fare on display too: regular and well-known Lotus racer Malcolm Rickett brought his Lotus IX while Simon Diffey both thrilled and alarmed spectators with a burnout in his race-prep’d BMW 2002, which was hauling his Formula Junior 1961 Lotus 20 racer fresh from the Silverstone Classic.
Photos of other highlights follow. Double click on the lead image at the top of the page to view a slide show of all the images.
Amphicar added to the amazing diversity of the displays.
As did Triumph Dolomite alongside a Jaguar C-type!
Malcolm Ricketts' Lotus IX
And it is no trailer queen, here he is (below) leaving the field
Fantastic Triumph display
Shaun Murnaghan’s ’66 Pontiac Le Mans
Rare-to-see Peugeot 504 stationwagon
Meyer's Manx buggy
Displays weren't limited to cars...fantastic Mod scooter
Lancia Lambda and Trabant
Vauxhall line-up from the local Luton plant
Simon Diffey's racers
Sweet A40 Somerset seemed the perfect picnic vehicle
Lincoln Continental didn't leave much room for anyone else
Banks Europa was joined by several more including the white pair (below)
Children of the 1970s were having some severe bicycle-related flashbacks
There were loads of Ferraris covering most models since the 1970s including...
Daytona never made it on to the field and was streetparked
Enzo brought traffic to a standstill, or actually it was rather more vice versa
One of two F40s at Classic on the Common
But only one (that we saw) very nice Testarossa
Best Lamborghini was ex-Sarah Miles 400GT
Renault Caravelle was a rare sight and drew a lot of attention
We were particularly taken with striking and lovely AC Aceca
Studebaker Champion looked great from in front and from behind (below)
As did this distinctive Daimler (above and below)
Immaculate Imp-based Commer van
Rather less immaculate Hillman Imp
Can't decide between M1 and Mk2 Ford-Lotus Cortinas?
Fulvia Berlina looked classy, as did its sexy HF sibling (below)
Early 16 valve Integrale was the clone of ex-C&SC staff car
Youngsters swarmed around Escort Cossie, not quite the oldest Ford on display...
Always nice to see a Jowett Jupiter
And a beautifully preserved Manta
Ricketts' IX wasn't the only genuine Lotus road-racer on site...
And neither did Lotus have the monopoly
Stately Jaguar 2.5 Sports Saloon was wonferfully patinated
Gilbern GT looked like a lot of fun
Blue light flashed regularly on Triumph 2000 cop car
Triumph Dolomite Sprint looked a minter
Steve Coker's Roadrunner is an event regular and looked ready to make a dash for it
With Luton close(ish) by there was a fantastic display of Vauxhalls, here are just a few of them
Tornado Tempest was rarer than many of the exotics
Sweet Zephyr watched the sun go down alongside Jaguar XK
One of the C&SC faves was this Standard Ensign Estate...
... but it was run close by magnificent Bedford Dormobile
Abbott Bristol drophead was one of two examples of the grand marque on show