Whoever said that British car shows ain’t what they used to be hasn’t been to one recently. Just as used to span the globe to cover the constant variety of sports, we spent the summer and fall attending British car shows. Here are highlights of five outstanding meets.
Whoever said that British car shows ain’t what they used to be hasn’t been to one recently. Just as Wide World Of Sports used to span the globe to cover the constant variety of sports, we spent the summer and fall attending British car shows. Here are highlights of five outstanding meets.
Michigan MG Reunion
From the early ’80s to late ’90s, John Twist organized an annual summer MG party. Then he went on a five-year hosting hiatus.
Fortunately for 500 MG owners from across the country and even a few from abroad, Twist decided to do it again and organize the University Motors Reunion Party in Grand Rapids last August.
The festivities began with a Thursday “Grand Lake Tour XII”—a 100-plus-mile navigational rally around Lake Michigan. Hardy drivers and their navigators hurtled through the night over some very rough roads, arriving back at the start point some 24 hours later! Only one car didn’t finish, a true testament to these MGs’ reliability. Covering 112 miles, the worthy winners were Brian Rehg and Matt Kobe in a 1971 MGB roadster. They probably wish they had finished second: They’re now the rally masters for the next Grand Lake Tour!
Other activities included touring Grand Rapids and checking out the numerous vendor stands. For many, the weekend’s highlight was the MG car show at Douglas Walker Park, where more than 500 MGs of all types displayed their beauty. The meet was also the site of a national gathering for the MGA Twin-Cam group, the Triple-M Register, the MG Driver’s club, and the MG V8 Register. Plenty of variety here: MGBs, Midgets, T-Types, and other assorted British classics.
Guest speaker at the Saturday evening banquet was Stephen Cox, Chairman of the MG Car Club of England and also an MG/Rover employee. However, he gave no clue as to whether a new MG would be coming to the United States.
The event concluded on Sunday morning with a convoy drive of more than 100 MGs to a fine breakfast at Grattan Racetrack, where attendees were able to drive parade laps. All in all, a fine event, and one hopes that this can be repeated soon, without a five-year interval! –Ken Smith
L.A. British Meet Comes Back With Amazing Variety
After three years off, The Greater Los Angeles British Car Meet returned with well over 300 examples of the automotive best of Britain. The arcane parade started early as Mike Frankovich pulled in with an amazing, two-tone blue Vauxhal Estate (wagon) that looked like a two-thirds-scale 1957 Oldsmobile, followed by his fully outfitted London Police Inspector’s Ford saloon from the 1970s. Then Mike Harper-Smith one-upped that by rolling up in a mint red double-decker bus (which was reported to have been hard at work on the streets of London just a few weeks before) as well as a shiny black Austin FX4 Taxi. The forecourt of the event began to look like a big Corgi boxed set!
Proud and proper restorations mixed with specials galore. How about a stretch-limo Mini or Randy Williams’ Morris Minor convertible pickup? The best was Luciano Sarra’s 1991 Jag XJS with shortened all-steel 1956 Lincoln Continental MkII bodywork! It’s kind of ironic that both companies are now owned by Ford.
Winners included a bright red Allard J2X, the Frankovich Vauxhal, Gary Wales’ prewar Bentley, and a forward-control (flat-fronted) Cold War communications command post recently imported from Germany. It featured an 80-foot antenna that the owner erected immediately when he got to the park. Club Participation award went to the Mini Club with more than 43 cars. –Rick Feibusch
Fallfest: Autumn In Jersey
After last year’s torrential downpours put a damper on Fallfest, perfect weather greeted the 2004 event this past September. More than 100 cars were on display in Dover at Moss Motors’ East Coast warehouse—a great turn-out considering that 9/11 memorial events and a race at Watkins Glen took place the same weekend.
Fallfest 2004 was once again organized by Larry Gersten and sponsored by NJ Triumph Association, Eastern NY MGA Club, and AHY Sports & Touring Club. Along with the usual influx of MGs, Triumphs, and Austin-Healeys, other British marques on display included Jaguar, Bentley, Cobra, Morgan, Lotus, Mini, and Rootes. Cars began arriving before 9:00 a.m.
Plenty of awards were handed out in addition to the door prizes donated by Moss Motors. The Best of Show award went to Tom and Pamela Mulligan of Ringwood, NJ, for their 1967 AHY BJ8.
In 2005, Fallfest will likely be held a week later to avoid conflicts with other events in the area. It’s sure to attract more British sportscar owners than ever, vying for show trophies and taking advantage of a 15% discount at the Moss parts counter. Look for the exact date in a future issue of British Motoring. –Giles Kenyon
Palo Alto All-British Show: 2 Days + 420 Cars = Fun
For the last 26 years, British Cars have filled the fields at El Camino Park with a little bit of the England that used-to-be. Morning smells blend burnt Castrol and Irish bacon frying to the sound of that 1950s-60s type of jazz that was popular when the majority of these cars were built. Union Jacks are everywhere, on shirts, on flagpoles, and on the very cars themselves.
Over the years, a Saturday driving event was added and the static display became mobile. This past September, 65 cars signed up for the tour, including everything from XK Jags and Big Healeys to an Austin A55 saloon. The TR3s were out in force, and the MGs were well represented with all models.
The Sunday car show featured beautiful weather and a reseeded lawn for parking. The cars were as beautiful as ever and there seemed to be at least one of everything. One fellow towed in an ultra-rare single-seater Peel micro-car (made on the Isle of Man in ’58) behind his all-glassfibre-bodied, 3-wheel Reliant delivery van.Winners included a Land Rover Dormobile camper conversion, the baby Peel, a magnificent BRG and white 100/4 Healey, and an equally impressive, bright red, 1953 Sunbeam Talbot saloon that also did well on the Saturday rally. Best Pre-War award went to Peter Lindstrom’s 1925 Austin Seven that has been in Peter’s family since new! The Club Participation Award went to the Jaguar Associates Group (JAG), which brought out over 50 members’ cars. –Rick Feibusch
25th Annual San Diego British Car Day
Over 400 British cars and their wonderful owners attended this year’s event, held at Fairbrook Farm in northern San Diego County. This beautiful venue—a rolling green-grass horse farm in Bonsall—provides an ideal location to have a picnic while displaying your car and enjoying many other fine British cars and British car clubs from all over the Southwest.
Voting is done by marque by car owners within that marque. Everyone gets to vote for Best of Show—won this year by Doug and Carole Gates and niece Amanda Pinta, with their crowd-pleasing 1921 “Springfield” Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Open Driven Touring Limousine. Since this fine car was actually made in Springfield, was the Best of Show for this 25th Annual British Car Day actually won by an American-made car?
Another crowd-pleaser is the “Best Beater” trophy (actually a bucket filled with sandpaper, body filler, car wax, etc.), won this year by Fairbrook Farm owner and TVR enthusiast David Zumstein in a “yet to be restored” TVR. Lots of good-natured ribbing about that one…
This year’s featured marque was Rolls-Royce, and many beautiful examples were on hand to celebrate “Roller’s” 100th year. The Rolls-Royce groups provided gifts for all in attendance and had an excellent display explaining the car and company history.
Next year’s San Diego British Car Day will be held at the same location, on Sunday, October 2, 2005. For more photos of this year’s event, and for more information about upcoming events in the San Diego area, please visit www.sandiegobritishcarday.org or call (760) 746-1458. –Steve Kirby