Pre-war gems shine at Gawsworth Classic Car Show

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A remarkable range of vehicles – spanning pre-war competition cars to ’80s hot hatches – gathered in the grounds of Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire for its annual Classic Show on 5 May.

Car of Show in the informal concours went to the glorious 1932 Delage D8S that John Ash bought as his first car in ’57, while the Denis Ferranti Prize was awarded to the beautiful, Gangloff-bodied Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio brought by Paul Wilson. Both looked spot-on outside the magnificent Tudor manor house. The Denis Ferranti Prize was introduced by show organiser Rupert Richards last year to honour the car-fanatic electrical engineering entrepreneur who owned Gawsworth Hall before the Richards family bought it in 1960.

Best Pre-War Car went to the 1936 Talbot-Lago T120C TT that building firm boss Phil Horsley purchased four years ago. “It was given to Raymond Mays as payment after he raced a Talbot-Darracq in the ’39 French GP at Reims,” he said. “It’s lovely to drive and we’ve been planning lots of trips, but I’ve been distracted in the meantime by a 1913 Fiat found in a rambling old house in Ludlow and a 1926 Humber.”

A fine selection of saloons included the Lagonda M45 that David Hine bought for £90 in ’65. As he put it: “Gentle maintenance has kept her going for the 10,000 or so miles covered since purchase, but an engine rebuild in 2008 required a new block and head.”

Retired Ferodo research technician John Heyes from Chapel-en-le-Frith brought a superb pair of Rileys. He did all of the restoration work on the 1954 RMF after tackling the ’38 Kestrel 16hp Sports Sedan, which was in a sorry state when he began the rebuild five years ago: “It was covered in glassfibre – in the floors, the frame and even the door posts – and it took me a fortnight solid to get rid of it. Then I found all the rot that it was hiding.”

The rarest, though – Rodney Bishop’s 1946 Invicta Black Prince, one of just 17 – scooped the award for Best Post War Saloon. “Most of it was in tea-chests when I got it in ’79,” he recalled, “and I first heard it in ’96. It was the works demonstrator and is the only one with this style of body, which was built by Charlesworth. It cost £3000 new, which would have bought a street of terraced houses back then.”

There was plenty of younger machinery, too, such as the gorgeous ’64 Gordon-Keeble (in the main photo above) that Jeff Brooks bought in bits 23 years ago and has recently been joined by his latest project – a Trident Venturer. Next to the G-K is the Jaguar XK150 of photographer John Colley, another show regular.

A mostly Rosso Ferrari line-up included the Best Grand Tourer – Sidney Brown’s Daytona – while the sole Lamborghini was Lee Griffiths’ exactingly detailed ’74 Urraco.

“It had obviously had a lot of money spent,” Griffiths said, “but just needed protecting because some of it was rusting. I’ve been through each corner and rebuilt everything that I didn’t like the look of and I reckon I’ve spent 400 hours on it.”

Clubs turn out in force to support the event, with pride of place on the front lawn going to a wonderfully varied mixture – as always – from the Manchester Historic Vehicle Club, plus assorted Jensens, Fords, Bristols and Porsches.

The massed Lotus group included Gareth Flanagan’s recently acquired ’68 +2. “I tracked this one down in Devizes,” he explained, “and it didn’t miss a beat on the way back. I wanted another early car and it turns out that this one – number 456 – and my old one, 439, both left the factory on the same day.”

There was plenty of room for bigger club displays in the back field, featuring TVR, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz groups. The Best Club Stand went to a 75-plus selection from the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club Northern Section – co-ordinated by Mike Bond – spanning Silver Ghosts to current Ghosts and fronted by a trio of Austin Champs and a Vanden Plas 4 Litre R, all of which have R-R engines.

There was a special gong for Best MX-5 as part of the club’s 25th anniversary, landed by multiple concours winner Ian McHattie’s ’95 1.8. And the Best Modern Classic went to Carolyn Boe’s late-model ’89 Citroën 2CV Spécial.

See more about the venue at www.gawsworthhall.com

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