Gawsworth Hall escaped the weekend downpours with another outstanding display of vehicles for its annual Classic Car Show on Monday.
Car of Show in the informal concours went to the magnificent 1925 Lanchester Forty limousine brought by Paul Wilson. It took pride of place in front of the beautiful Tudor mansion alongside Rodney Bishop’s gleaming 1946 Invicta Black Prince prototype – one of just 17 – and Jeff Brooks’ 1964 Gordon-Keeble (the 12th built), resplendent in Ferrari Azzurro metallic.
Pre-war cars are always well-represented at the busy Cheshire event and the prize for the best went to Peter Bradley’s superb 1930 Lagonda 2 Litre. The Denis Ferranti Prize – in honour of the car-fanatic electrical engineering entrpreneur who owned Gawsworth for 30 years – went to another stunning vintage machine, the 1926 Bentley 6.5 Litre ‘Big Blue’ of Chris Jonas.
A fine turnout from Cheshire Sevens – part of the Pre-War Austin Seven Club – included a couple of superbly restored examples: Rob Jacks’ 1933 Box saloon (on right of four in top photo) and the two-tone ’36 Nippy (next to it) that David Gregson rebuilt “from the ground up, but to the original pattern and specification”. Ruth and David Howard brought their ’35 Ruby saloon. “They’re addictive,” enthused Ruth, “and who wants to be cured?” A copy of a period advert in its back window boasted the tagline: ‘You buy a car – but you invest in an Austin’.
Not everything was mint, though. Peter Wright’s fabulous 1928 Austin 12/4 Salmons-bodied Tickford ‘all weather cabriolet’ (above) is known as ‘Scruff’. “It had been in the Donington Collection for about 30 years as part of the Crick Garage display,” he recalled, “and I bought it as a retirement project at an H&H sale in 2009. Over the past few years, it has been restored to full working order while preserving its state of originality – neglect more like! The oil had set like treacle toffee and was removed from the sump with a paint scraper.”
A fascinating mixture of clubs always gathers around the estate. The Manchester Historic Vehicle Club brought everything (in age) from vintage tourers to a Volvo 1800ES. MHVC stalwart Brian Clarkson won Best Post War Sports for his gorgeous ’55 AC Ace.
A dazzling Lotus array featured the Elan Sprint that Pete Taylor bought 15 years ago alongside the similarly much-travelled Cortina II Lotus (on the right) that Michael Livesley from Rossendale has owned for 31 years. “I restored it once, in ’86,” he said, “and again in 2007, when I cut a lot more rot out. One of the best runs we’ve done was Cortina to Cortina in Italy for the 50th anniversary of the Mk1 in 2012.”
Bentley director of motorsport Brian Gush was in the gorgeous Elan S2 that he rebuilt himself. It was alongside another Gawsworth regular, an Arnolt Bristol.
The Bristol Owners’ Club also featured the first Bristol car ever made – a bright blue 1946 400 owned by the company until ’92 – next to one of the firm’s last products: the 2009 Blenheim 4 that Dr Richard Levine drove from Leeds. It won Best Post War Saloon.
A colourful line-up of 914s drew lots of attention as part of a 60-plus turnout from Porsche Club GB. Photographer Matt Webb from Congleton organised the set. “I brought this ’73 Alaska Blue 1.7 last September although I’d been looking for one for years,” he explained. “They’re great to drive but there are lots of rotten ones out there.”
Large club displays in the back field included TVRs, Reliants, Triumph Stags, Jaguars and Mazda MX-5s. Best Open Car went to the pale metallic gold ’67 Mercedes-Benz 250SL of Ivy Igoe, which sports the registration 1 VY.
The M-B Club selection also numbered a nice-looking 200 saloon for sale, with a W123 coupé of similar age and a smart dark green R107 450SLC.
Best Club Stand went to the Alvis Owner Club on its first visit to Gawsworth, with a fine set spanning pre-war tourers via ’50s T-series models to the ’60s TE of Tim Brown who organised the display.
Pick of the rarities from the individual entries was a ’72 Ford Taunus GXL two-door saloon. It’s powered by a 2-litre Cologne V6 and was sold new to Sweden, so it has a brake test switch and a plug-in engine pre-heater.
Organiser Rupert Richards, ably assisted by his brother Nicholas and a small army of marshals from the HRCR, was delighted with the show.
He pointed out an odd quirk of history: “Mary Fitton, whose family owned the hall – the possible Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets and lady in waiting to Elizabeth I – had an affair with the Earl of Pembroke, as in Wilton House. It did neither of their careers a lot of good, but it is interesting that Wilton and Gawsworth both have car shows nearly 500 years later.”
Here are a few more of our favourites:
Sublime 1932 Delage D8S that John Ash bought as his first car in ’57
Magnificent 1935 Sunbeam 20.9hp saloon
Lancia Integrale Evo looked to be in great condition
An absolutely immaculate Ford Sierra XR4i
Wonderfully patinated Aston Martin DB4
Cool Ford Granada Ghia Mk1 with Daimler V8-250 in the car park
And here’s something you don’t see often: the Invicta on its way home