Getting a double dose of inspiration at the Thatcham Classic

| 6 Nov 2012

The sixth running of the Thatcham Classic, a small car show that I am responsible for organising and running each year, took place in October. 

As is always the case, I was blown away by the support the little local show received and in the end we had almost 250 classics on the field, including a decent showing of the C&SC Our Classics cars.

However, what made an impression on me even more than the cars was the people.

Each year we keep the show completely free and just try to coerce people into putting a few quid into the charity bucket. This year we were collecting for Macmillan Cancer Support – a very worthy charity and one which I’m sure many of the visitors to the show and to this website will have knowledge of, or a link to in some form.

Now I'm always a little nervous of asking people for money – I'm not a natural extrovert (honestly) and so it's always nice when someone kicks things off and puts the first change in the bucket.

This year though, it wasn't change: a gentleman came up to me and put a £20 note into the bucket and then asked me to come and look at his car.

As we stood next to the AC Cobra replica, he explained that he couldn’t drive it at the moment and that his friend had brought him along in it.

He then proceeded to remove his cap and show me the scar at the back of his head where he had recently had a tumour removed. "I’m having chemotherapy and radiotherapy," he said stoically. "I might live… I might not. Whatever happens will happen."

Despite all of this, he had made the effort to get his car down to a small classic car show just because he wanted to show off his pride and joy and have a nose around whatever else turned up, and while I know the effort he made wasn’t for me personally, I couldn’t help but be humbled by his commitment.

The next moment of inspiration came thanks to yet another previous owner of my AC Buckland (above).

I had previously communicated with Michael Fines-Allin by e-mail, but to be suddenly shaking hands with him on a field in West Berkshire was a joyful moment.

Michael owned PAR 419 for several years in the mid-'60s and followed the tradition of the first owner, Harold Day, by using the car for the odd bit of competition and had kindly decided to surprise me by coming down to the show.

Of course, I had to then take him to see the AC, even if I wasn't proud of its current state, but Michael didn’t mind – the memories came flooding back and he provided me with plenty more stories about the car.

He also admitted that my own 'struggle' to push on with the restoration had inspired him to crack on with getting his Turner back on the road after many years in the garage.

I never thought that my inactivity would actually be a good thing, but as Michael said: "Maybe we can help motivate each other with our restorations."

And that appears to be happening nicely: the Turner finally being extracted from the garage, while in Teddington the C&SC workshop is now full of AC engine parts undergoing an overhaul.

So, for someone who doesn’t really like car shows, this year’s Thatcham Classic provided me with two of the most rewarding moments that I could have hoped for – oddly, both AC-related.

And that is the reason why, despite every year saying that this will be the last Thatcham Classic I organise, every year I end up doing another one. 

If you want to donate to the charity, you can do so by visiting our donations page.