Enthusiasts flock to chilly Shepton Mallet

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Words and pictures: Simon Charlesworth

Kick-starting the show season on the weekend of 11-12 February, the Footman James Great Western Classic Car Show seemed intent on attracting the most committed of classic enthusiasts to the Bath & West Showground. Snow flurries, a painful wind-chill factor and muddy Somerset roads certainly conspired to do their worst.

Visitors, to what was previously the Footman James Great Western Autojumble, may have suspected disappointment but instead enthusiasts turned out for the show’s eighth year. Not merely in their moderns but the classic parking was packed by both quality and quantity. Such is the advantage of friendly knowledgeable staff that cars of all types, ages, nationalities, states of originality and modification were present and intriguingly mixed together. 

Inside, the Best Club Stand, the Norton Radstock Vehicle Club, featured two blue Vauxhall FEs, including a 1973 VX4/90 that was a former best in show at the Tatton Park Classic & Performance Car Spectacular. 

The Ford Cortina MkII Owners’ Club put on a dazzling display of MkIIs with Adrian Evans’ mint 56,000 mile, 1969 1600E winning Best Car In Show.

The Gilbern Owners’ Club displayed a line-up of MkII Invaders, including Paul Doe’s 1972 Estate that has been in the family for 42 years. ‘The Volvo Invasion’ theme of the Volvo Enthusiasts’ Club, featured a P1800 painstakingly mocked-up as a tank on a landing craft – as you do. 

Roughly 530 classics were on display over the weekend, with other captivating exhibits being: Jersey’s Le Riche Automobile Restorers showing an unusual 1965 FIAT 2300S Abarth with competition papers, FIA papers and spares for £35,000. 

On the Ford Sidevalve Owners’ Club stand, John Porter’s 1961 Nickri Spyder special had a twin-spark 1172cc Carden-Ford aero-engine with alloy head and integral header tank. Indeed, the Nickri was awarded Runner-Up Most Interesting Vehicle, only being outdone by Brian Kent’s winning ex-Bobby Moore Jaguar. A brace of Ford Model ‘A’s and a beautiful Ford Capri RS2600 also stopped visitors in their tracks.

Charterhouses’ auction lots were buzzing on the viewing day (Saturday) – as too was the autojumble – both ably testing your pecuniary self-control or lack thereof. 

Given the weather forecast there were a few cancelled stands in the new-for-2017 heated marquee, but not enough to bruise the show’s atmosphere of genuine friendly enthusiasm. Little wonder organisers were pleased that club attendance had doubled and that the numbers through the gate were up 14 per cent on 2016.

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