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There was glory for a humble, base-spec 1977 Morris Marina 1.3 Deluxe Estate on Saturday, as it scooped the top prize at the sixth annual Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional.
It’s one of just 15 still on the road in the UK and was brought to the event at Claydon Estate in Buckinghamshire by doting owner Michael Carpenter.
In taking the day’s top prize, it beat 49 other magnificently mundane, much-loved classic cars, charming the judges with its honest, well-preserved condition.
The Marina pipped another base-spec beauty, the 1978 Vauxhall Chevette E saloon that owner Philip Hunt has known from new.
In fact, the car owes its existence to Hunt, who saved it from being scrapped by its original owner and who has since cared for and enjoyed it.
And taking home the People’s Choice Award, voted for by the event’s ticket holders, was Simon Gaisford’s 1982 Peugeot 305 SR Estate.
From over 1.7m built, only seven of these remain in the UK – and few can be in as excellent condition as Gaisford’s immaculately presented example.
The Festival of the Unexceptional had three other winners, too.
Receiving the Junior Judges’ Choice accolade was a 1989 Citroën BX 19 DTR owned by Dan Goff, one of only 18 left here in Britain and displayed complete with a ‘taxi’ sign.
And because the event isn’t just about the cars, owners were also encouraged to dress and picnic in the style of their awesomely ordinary automotive heroes, with an award presented for the Feast of the Unexceptional/Best Picnic; that honour went to Mike and Judith Burkett and their 1979 Colt Sigma GLX.
There were plenty of other treats on offer away from the award winners, with more than 500 unexceptional classic cars, ’bikes, campervans, and commercial vehicles on show.
Among our favourites were a showroom-condition 1992 Renault Clio 1.4 RT, a 1985 Nissan Sunny 1.5 GL, a 1980 Ford Cortina 2.0 L, and a 1987 Rover 820E that’s thought to be the last on the road in the UK.
Also spotted were a 50th Anniversary Saab 900 Turbo, a British Gas Transit 4x4, an original VW Golf GL, a rare Renault 25 LWB Limousine, an Alfa Romeo 2300 Rio, a 1973 Toyota Crown Custom Estate, a 1971 Fiat 128 and a 1989 Vauxhall Cavalier 2.0i CD.
“What a delight it is to present cars that evoke so many memories to so many people, and to reward the enthusiasts who spend precious time and money on keeping the more ordinary classics on the road,” said Marcus Atkinson of Hagerty International.
“As you walk around the lawns you overhear guests saying, ‘My Dad had one of those’ or ‘We went on our summer holiday in that’ and that’s why we do what we do. Great cars and great memories, a meeting of like-minded people who appreciate that ‘unexceptional’ is a term of endearment and not derogatory.”
He added: “While we have admiration and passion for all classic car owners and events, FOTU is truly special… more family gathering than sterile show, it brings people together.
“We have no rules, no boundaries and light-hearted judging which makes everyone smile and enjoy the event. Car concours don’t have to be stuffy and boring.”