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It has certainly been an unusual 12 months, but never before have our beloved classic cars and the community that surrounds them been more important. And at the very heart of that community lies our car clubs.
Sadly, we weren’t able to come together at the NEC Classic Motor Show in 2020, but we couldn’t let the year pass without recognising the amazing ongoing efforts of the clubs and the unsung heroes that run them to keep our spirits up and our cars on the roads, which is why we’ve brought you the first-ever virtual Classic & Sports Car Club Awards.
Watch this year’s ceremony below – and read on for details of our wonderful, deserving winners and superb highly commended nominations.
As you’ll see, there have been a few changes to recognise all the things that have happened – and not happened – since last year’s awards. We still had a fantastic set of strong entries that gave our judges a real challenge, with our new format giving opportunities to clubs that might not previously have got involved, which was great to see.
Best Club Website
As is traditional, we kick off with the award for Best Club Website. The shortlist included two well-established sites that continue to impress and offer a thriving online community for members, as well as a welcoming introduction to their chosen models for newcomers.
Webmaster Kevin Fagan’s efforts to support the Figaro Owners’ Club’s 1200 members around the world are encapsulated in the lively website he has created himself, whose colourful and cheerful approach reflects the neo-classic Nissan that forms its focus.
The Honda S800 Sports Car Club’s established offering is less modern in appearance, but as a resource for its users it is constantly improving – particularly in this exceptional year when its newsletters, technical articles and online events united the club’s users during lockdown.
In contrast, our winner comes from a new club that was launched in July 2020 after three years in the planning. Calling itself ‘a TVR club fit for the 21st century’, the Blackpool Thunder Car Club lives up to that tag with an online offering that was the standout entry in the category.
Stylish, easy to navigate and optimised for mobile and tablet use, the regularly updated site is packed with news, events, and detailed model histories and galleries. All of the club’s content is published online rather than in a magazine.
Best Club Magazine, sponsored by Witham Motorsport/Motul
Built 2 Last, The Land Rover Series 2 Club
- The Cats Whiskers, Sunbeam Tiger Club
- TR Action, TR Register
In order to accommodate our additional categories, this year we’ve rolled our two club magazine awards into one. As ever it was a hotly contested trophy, not least due to the number of publishing professionals now undertaking magazine editing duties for their personal passions during their spare time.
The Sunbeam Tiger Club’s publication has always impressed, but this year a special piece of content promoted it to our shortlist. Struggling to find interesting stories to fill its pages during lockdown, the editorial team came up with the innovative idea of getting readers to send in images of their ‘caged Tigers’, resulting in a bumper 72-page special issue.
Our second shortlisted title is the ever-brilliant TR Action, which this year marks its 50th anniversary with a redesign to add a sharp new look to complement the vibrant and varied content put together by editor Wayne Scott.
The judges were reluctant to award the trophy to a former C&SC staffer for fear of being accused of bias, but felt they had no choice. The quarterly Built 2 Last is produced for a relatively small club, yet features superb editorial and newsstand-quality design and photography thanks to the ongoing efforts of editor and dedicated Land-Rover enthusiast Martin Port.
Best Live Club Event
Pop-up Centenary, Alvis Owner Club
- XJS Club National Day
- MG Car Club Social
Club gatherings remain central to our hobby, and though many of our favourite events were forced to move online in 2020 there have still been more than enough shows, runs, rallies and celebrations before and between the lockdowns to produce a bumper crop of entries.
Both of our commended events were held at the same venue, whose expansive site allows for efficient social-distancing measures, even with a healthy turnout of visitors.
That was proved by the MG Car Club, which celebrated its 90th birthday in 2020 with a COVID-compliant social event at the British Motor Museum in September that drew more than 300 MGs. All eras were represented, from the T Register – celebrating 75 years of the TC – to tributes to the late Don Hayter and 25 years of the MGF.
A month earlier, the BMM also played host to a hugely impressive 150 Jaguar XJ-Ss to mark the Coventry coupé’s 45th anniversary, along with a special display of unique models from the Jaguar Heritage collection.
Our winner, however, was a rare highlight in a difficult year for the Alvis Owner Club, whose plans for a vast marque centenary party were repeatedly scaled back and in many cases have been postponed to 2021.
But in August, the club mustered a fantastic display of more than 40 cars spanning the whole of Alvis production for a pop-up centenary show and cavalcade at Bicester Heritage in Oxfordshire, including a selection of important and unusual cars courtesy of their host, Alvis enthusiast Dan Geoghegan.
Best Virtual Club Event
Fix-It Weekend, Gay Classic Car Group
- Top Down Lockdown, UK S2000 Owners’ Club
- Virtual Racing Championships, Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club UK
The first of our all-new categories for 2020 recognises the multitude of club events held online and on social media over the past 12 months. First to make the shortlist was the UK S2000 Owners’ Club (S2KUK), which began reaching out to its membership early on during lockdown with Friday-evening quizzes in the S2KUK ‘virtual bar’.
These drew enthusiasts from across the UK and beyond every week, and their popularity led to the full weekend-long charity ‘Top Down Lockdown MegaMeet’ in June, including real-time technical demonstrations, members’ videos and a ‘virtual dinner’ on Saturday evening.
Also impressing the judges was the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club UK’s Virtual Racing Championships. Launched in April, this huge undertaking has both amateur and professional categories and has now grown to include more than 500 cars, 40 circuits, 800 events and 200 participants, and is watched by more than 2000 viewers – complete with live commentary!
Our winner embraces the diversity and inclusivity encouraged by virtual events. Following the cancellation of the annual NEC Restoration Show, the Gay Classic Car Group’s Fix-It Weekends engaged members and encouraged them to get stuck-in to those long-neglected projects on their classics with online tutorials, and shared encouragement and assistance via the hashtag #gccgfixit.
A vital support to the mental health of club members and the physical health of their cars.
Best Contribution to Charity
Triumph Over COVID-19, TR Register
- Drivers’ Union
- Alvis Owner Club
This is a mission that lies at the very heart of the car club scene, and such is the selfless support within our community that almost every entry in every category this year could be considered for this award.
Our first shortlisted club is Drivers’ Union, a not-for-profit organisation that caters for supercar owners, and which leverages the public passion for these phenomenal cars to raise money for local and national organisations through charity rides.
The Alvis Owner Club also gets an honourable mention, for selflessly repurposing the funds that had been raised to put on its COVID-cancelled centenary celebrations into projects supporting those suffering hardship in the marque’s home town of Coventry. The club’s board awarded grants of £2500 each to Coventry Foodbank and the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund (BEN).
Our winner, however, mobilised its substantial membership with a summer-long ‘Triumph Over COVID-19’ campaign, encouraging enthusiasts to buy rally plates and display them on their classics on social media and via the TR Register club magazine to raise further cash for nominated beneficiaries.
With the club having paid for the plates out of its own coffers, the proceeds – amounting to well over £6000 so far – were donated straight to NHS charities.
Social Media Award
- Maxine Walter, GT40 Enthusiasts’ Club
- Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club Podcast
This new award has been created to highlight the best use of social media to unite, strengthen and entertain club members and classic enthusiasts. Over the past year, for many of us our screens have been our main lifeline to the outside world, and in particular to our shared passion for classics, bringing the positive aspects of social media into sharp focus.
Our first shortlisted nomination is for an individual rather than an organisation, the GT40 Enthusiasts’ Club’s dedicated social media committee member Maxine Walter. The club paid tribute to the way she has kept members advised and entertained throughout lockdown, in the meantime increasing Facebook followers by more than 50% as well as putting together a regular digital newsletter.
Many clubs have begun producing podcasts in recent months, but few can claim the huge success of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club. Launched at the beginning of lockdown, the weekly hour-long JEC Podcast was designed to entertain and inform the worldwide Jaguar community and has attracted more than 6000 subscribers with its professional production standards and special guests including Martin Brundle, Win Percy and Kevin McCloud.
But our winner has become something of a phenomenon. Born out of Bicester Heritage chaplain Rev Adam Gompertz’s passion for restoring both classic vehicles and their owners’ mental health, REVS has become a thriving online community hosting virtual events and packed with fascinating content and contributions from celebrities, owners and experts from across the automotive world.
Chris Wickers, Volvo Owners’ Club
- Tracy Nabbs & Maggy Haynes, Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust
- Mark Wells, Gay Classic Car Group
We are living in exceptional times, but that has also highlighted how many exceptional people there are in our world. The first of our three individual awards celebrates the person who has done the most for fellow enthusiasts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first shortlisted nomination comes from not a traditional car club but a charitable trust. Tracy Nabbs and Maggy Haynes were put forward by JDHT managing director Matthew Davis for their unstinting efforts to continue production of Heritage Certificates to keep up with the constant stream of online enquiries from enthusiasts during lockdown.
GCCG stalwart Mark Wells’ infectious enthusiasm and constant flow of new ideas have proved invaluable throughout lockdown. Our Best Virtual Club Event winner was Wells’ brainchild, and he cajoled members into taking part before coordinating and promoting the results. He also came up with a ‘Scrubbers Weekend’ of classic detailing, along with various other fun digital events and regularly contacting vulnerable club members.
After being made redundant during lockdown, Chris Wickers, editor of the Volvo Owners’ Club magazine The Driver, could have been forgiven for concentrating his efforts elsewhere. Instead, he used his unexpected free time to give fellow members the best possible experience, project managing a new rolling section for the magazine, organising a virtual car show, launching a photographic competition and turning the spotlight on people working behind the scenes to keep the country moving. He even found time to volunteer for two local charities. A very worthy winner.
Club Star of the Future, sponsored by Longstone Tyres
Connor Ellis, Driven Escape
- Steph Holloway, idriveaclassic
- Steven Haigh, Volvo Owners’ Club
In a hobby that is often perceived as being stuffy and old hat by the wider community, it’s great to see younger enthusiasts making their mark. In this category we pay tribute to those tipped for greatness in the classic world.
Our first shortlisted nominee has built a community single-handedly through her charismatic and enthusiastic persona on film, and her egalitarian attitude to what constitutes a classic.
Steph Holloway’s vibrant YouTube channel, idriveaclassic, has garnered more than 20,000 subscribers as she shares her passion for (mainly British) cars of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, and challenges the stereotype of the kind of people who drive and enjoy old cars.
Our second shortlisted contender, Steven Haigh, fell in love with Volvos at the age of 11, when his grandfather bequeathed him a ‘Thor’ 244 saloon. The club has since seen Haigh propose to girlfriend Jess at a National Rally, and the couple named their son Jakob after Volvo’s first ever car. Now that’s commitment.
Our winner has channelled his passion for cars into helping others. Driven Escape is an online group created to support classic enthusiasts who suffer from mental health challenges, by showing them that they are not alone.
The group has raised more than £1200 for Mental Health Research UK, but more importantly founder and award winner Connor Ellis has raised awareness of a key issue and given vital support to numerous young fans of classics.
Club Personality of the Year
Andrew Dunnell, Honda S800 Sports Car Club
- Chris Gunby, Triumph Sports Six Club
- Martin Williams, Singer Owners’ Car Club
In many ways, this category is our answer to the traditional ‘lifetime achievement award’, in which we pay tribute to an enthusiast who has gone the extra mile for their club.
A perfect example is our first shortlisted nominee, Martin Williams. A longstanding and dedicated member of the Singer Owners’ Car Club, Williams is also a talented artist who has for decades supplied the club with drawings to adorn the magazine’s front cover and to celebrate special occasions, including its forthcoming 70th anniversary in 2021.
Also landing an honourable mention is Triumph Sports Six Club chairman Chris Gunby. As head of the TSSC’s Council Of Management, it’s Gunby’s job to secure the long-term future of the club. During the pandemic he has protected the TSSC’s four staff, personally revamped the club headquarters in line with new regulations, and offered two cars from his personal collection to represent the TSSC in the Classic Car Loan Project, encouraging new enthusiasts into the fold.
Our winner is a true club stalwart. Having owned an example of his chosen classic when they were new, Andrew Dunnell of the Honda S800 Sports Car Club returned to the model 20 years later, joined the club and has been a linchpin ever since.
Treasurer for 28 years, a lengthy part of that in conjunction with his chairmanship, he has also been the driving force behind the club’s annual NEC displays, yet it is his down-to-earth attitude and sense of humour that resonates most with the membership.
Club of the year
Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club UK
- Drivers’ Union
- MG Car Club
To our eyes, almost every club across the globe deserves this accolade for their continuing commitment to their cars and their members – which makes picking a winner among winners all the more difficult.
If there was an award simply for the number of nominations, then it would surely go to the Drivers’ Union, whose passionate members clearly love being part of this exclusive yet growing community of supercar owners.
Free to join and driven by the passion of founder Syeed Ali, as one member said: ‘It’s not just your ordinary car club… It’s a family.’
From one very new club to a very old one: 90 years old, to be exact, as the MG Car Club becomes the second group on our shortlist.
Despite the pandemic, this superb club has continued to grow its membership while engaging with its community in new ways including a podcast, a worldwide photo competition and an investigation into its history that has been shared throughout the year.
But our Club of the Year was a unanimous verdict among the judges. Rather than sit back and lick its wounds during lockdown, this club has been incredibly active, launching podcasts, virtual racing championships, an online club archive and photo gallery, plus an interactive map of services to help members track down good specialists.
It has also added to its local area groups and model registers, revamped its website and club shop, and even surveyed its readership to find out how it can continue to improve over the coming year. Congratulations to the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club UK.