There’s something about Gawsworth Hall that makes a perfect setting for a car show, probably because the picturesque Cheshire estate has been hosting rallies since the Manchester Automobile Club visited in 1902.
Its May Day Classic Car Show has been an annual fixture since 1998 and this year organiser Rupert Richards added a new prize to honour electrical engineering tycoon Denis Ferranti, who owned Gawsworth Hall before the Richards family bought it in 1960.
As Richards explained: “In the 1940s and ’50s, it was home to Denis’ wonderful collection, which included his daily-driver Mercedes Gullwing and a Bugatti Type 59 that now belongs to Ralph Lauren.”
“I don’t really organise the show,” he added. “It happens because of all the enthusiasts who support it. This year was the perfect event: I can’t imagine it being any better. I was bowled over by the eclectic range of cars.”
Ferranti would have approved of the Memorial Award winners: a fabulous, just-restored 1934 Gurney Nutting-bodied Bentley 31/2-litre sedanca and a ’37 Alvis 4.3 short-chassis Vanden Plas tourer (on left in top photo, next to Roger Bailey’s 1921 3 Litre – the fourth-oldest surviving Bentley).
Alongside the victorious duo earlier in the day was the gorgeous ’61 Aceca of lifelong AC fans Tim and wife Julia Armitage, who used to race an Ace. “We don’t normally do events where you park up and have a picnic,” said Tim. “It’s usually driving tours, but there are some fabulous cars here.”
Directly opposite was the delightful 1927 Star 14/40 of Steve Elnor: “It was made in Wolverhampton and only two survive – this one and an open tourer in Australia.”
Across the aisle from the Star was the gleaming 1935 Brough Superior of Nick Brough (no relation). “I’ve always wanted one,” he explained, “but never thought that I’d find one. It took 10 years of looking. We used it recently for my daughter’s wedding up in Buxton. It was covered in snow the next day but started first time.”
A magnificent Lagonda Club quartet featured Nigel Hall’s LG45 (under the gazebo), which the club’s northern secretary Tim Gresty said was “as far as we know, the only car here that was racing yesterday – at the VSCC’s Curborough Speed Trials”. Gresty’s lovely 1931 2-litre Low Chassis Speed Model (to the left of the LG45) landed the Best Pre-War Car prize at the event.
Best Open-Topped Car went to the beautiful 1934 Aston Martin MkII that John Evans bought when he was 21 and has owned for decades.
Manchester Historic Vehicle Club always brings a diverse bunch of members’ cars, such as the 1934 Crossley 10 Torquay that Malcolm Asquith bought “as a wreck” 10 years ago. He repaired the badly worn wood frame and resprayed the car in Ford Sierra dark brown over cream, which really suit it.
American rarities featured, too, the highlight of which was the superb ’65 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Turbo – with matching metallic blue interior – that Steve Reed from Failsworth imported from Florida in February 2011. “The previous owners had done a brilliant job of the mechanical rebuild and even arranged the shipping for us,” he said. He puts the gauze over the engine at shows to stopping anything from falling into the fan.
Nearby was the fantastically original 16,000-mile ’76 Ford Capri II 2.0S that Stuart Holmes from Stretford tracked down 18 months ago: “It was one of those cars that we all dream of finding. It was owned by an old lady in Coventry who was very fond of the car and gave me an interview before she would part with it. I even had to send her photos of my garage.”
A few Citroëns could be found, too, such as the DS20 and 2CV6 Spécial of Anthony and Carolyn Boe. “We’ve had the DS, which originates from South Africa, for six years,” Anthony recalled, “but only bought the other one six months ago. It’s an ’89 model – so one of the last– and has been repainted but still has the original chassis.”
The back field featured massed displays from the Morris Minor OC, Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’, Mercedes-Benz and TVR Car Clubs, as well as the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ and Drivers’ Clubs – sporting at least four XJ Coupés between them – and the Mazda MX-5 OC next to the Reliant Sabre & Scimitar OC.
The event was kept running smoothly by 20 marshals provided by the local region of the Historic Rally Car Register. Its fine selection included Mike Doughty’s immaculate ’64 Saab 96 two-stroke that he found in Norway in 2000 and rebuilt for tackling regularities.
But they were all edged for the Best Club Stand by Porsche Club GB, with an 80-strong turnout masterminded by Phil Graham.