Harpenden extravaganza celebrates 20th birthday

| 1 Aug 2013

Classics on the Common wasn’t quite as busy as it usually is for its 20th anniversary – with the attendance now capped at 1050 cars instead of 1200 – but there was still an outstanding range of machinery to be found in Harpenden town centre yesterday. The Harpenden Village Rotary Club mid-week charity gathering was heaving with spectators as thousands of locals swarmed around the assorted cars, motorcycles, commercials and military vehicles. It is on course to beat even last year’s record £19,000 total. This year’s main beneficiaries will be Herts Air Ambulance, the local branch of the Samaritans, Keech Children’s Hospice and WaterAid.The selection spanned everything from vintage Bentleys via ’50s saloons and racers to ’70s exotica and a fair few moderns. A spokesman for the organisers said that they will be tightening up the 20-year rule next year, though it is relaxed for exotics. That said, the youngsters did seem to like the newer models.

A varied selection of proper classics included John Derby’s exactingly restored 1960 Morris Mini-Minor DeLuxe, which drew lots of attention. The Mini had been in the same family for 46 years before Derby bought the car in 2008 and restored it over three years, doing all the welding, painting and mechanical work himself.Over on the main common was another lovely 1960 motor, the Chariot Red MGA that Dan Hill purchased in 2001. In 2005, he toured through France and Germany to the Czech Republic to compete in the centenary of the Ecce Homo hillclimb – a 2500-mile round trip. The much-travelled MG has also been to the Le Mans Classic twice and was also one of the classics that featured in last year’s Olympics closing ceremony.

A fine turnout from the Historic Lotus Register included a brace of Elites and a pair of Elevens, one brought by marque guru Malcolm Ricketts.

As always, though, the once-ubiquitous but now scarce vehicles proved just as popular as the exotica. Where else, for example, might you see a pair of superbly restored Mk2 Ford Transit pick-ups and a Mk 1 Fiesta alongside a gang of mid-engined Ferraris? And they were all pretty much the same colour (top photo).

Here’s just a few of the diverse machines that were on show:

An excellent pair of Fords: Mk1 Granada Ghia with a MkIV Zodiac Executive

Immaculate Datsun 260Z looked perfect

In front of it was this stunning BMW 323i

A typically varied Harpenden bunch, with Lotus Elan +2, Citroën Méhari, Visa GTI (one of only a couple on the road) and nice Mk2 Jag

BMW E9 CS looked lovely in fading light...

...as did this Porsche 356

Ford Zodiac Mk2 Lowline convertible was gorgeous

Yes, I know I took a photo of this Hudson Hornet last year but it’s fab!