On Saturday 14th July 2018, over 2000 enthusiasts gathered at the imposing surrounds of Stowe House in Buckinghamshire to take the ultimate motoring nostalgia trip.
They were attending Hagerty’s Festival of the Unexceptional Concours de l’Ordinaire, a celebration of the cars that used to be on everyone’s driveways but are now so rare.
The Festival’s unique proposition is that the cars that once drove us to school, to work and on holiday, are now so rare that they should be celebrated; indeed, most of those attending the show have a direct emotional link to the cars there, unlike most top-end concours events.
Fifty unexceptional models were selected for the main concours, including a wonderfully original 1979 Citroen GS X3, one of only two road-worthy survivors in the UK, a 1975 Volvo 66 GL saloon – the oldest known example of this ex-DAF model – plus an as-new and very scarce 1971 Fiat 125, an early 1982-built Ford Sierra 1.6L and a very beige (Harvest Gold in BL parlance) 1975 Austin Allegro 1100 with its Quartic steering wheel and hot and sticky PVC brown interior trim.
The judging panel was anything but unexceptional: Jon Bentley, Edd China, Danny Hopkins, Gary Axon, Tanya Field and Sam Skelton provided a perfect combination of experience, good looks and humour. Their decisions were based not just on the condition of the cars but also on the story behind the vehicle.
After a session of deliberation, the winners were announced:
– Best in Show: 1977 Chrysler Alpine (Guy Maylam)
– Second Place: 1981 Datsun Bluebird GL saloon (Kev Curtis)
– People’s Choice: 1982 Fiat Strada 65CL (Gavin Bushby)
– Junior Judges Choice: 1979 Vauxhall Cavalier L 2-door saloon (Jason Himpson)
– Best Dressed: Edward Morley (1972 Renault 16 TS)
– Feast of the Unexceptional/Best Picnic: Julie Gandolfi (1983 Mercedes-Benz 200T)
The Best in Show winning pre-Talbot 1977 Chrysler Alpine was an exceptional example of a truly unexceptional car, fully restored and finished off just the night before the 2018 FOTU by Chrysler/Simca enthusiast Guy Maylam.
The Chrysler is one of only 13 Alpines left in the UK, a pioneering family hatchback that won the coveted European Car of the Year title for 1976 but failed to wrest sales away from more successful contemporary rivals such as the Ford Cortina, Vauxhall Cavalier and Morris Marina.
Commenting on the Fifth Anniversary Festival of the Unexceptional, Angus Forsyth, Managing Director, Hagerty International Limited, said, “When we at Hagerty first developed the idea of the Festival of the Unexceptional, we wanted to raise the profile of vehicles which are not seen at Pebble Beach, Hampton Court, Goodwood or other such prestigious Concours events.
"Whilst those events have their very obvious place in our classic car world, we were keen to increase the profile and awareness of the new all-too-forgotten ordinary cars to whom a large majority of people can truly relate; the first car you drove, your parent’s car or simply the car you admired on your neighbour’s drive.”
Hagerty’s Festival of the Unexceptional will return in 2019.