Events : Report – Festival of The Unexceptional 2015

Words: Keith Adams Photography: Tanya Field


Hagerty’s innovative Festival of the Unexceptional returned for a second year, bringing together some of our favourite automotive winners and losers – a wonderful antidote to the usual high class fare associated with the term ‘concours’. But then, this is a concours d’ordinaire!

For 2015, 50 cars were invited on to the lawns at Whittlebury Golf Club, near Silverstone, which was holding its 25th Classic race meeting during the same weekend. And this association is intentional, as Hagerty are keen to see the Silverstone Classic as the centrepiece for a number of car events located within miles of each other, rather like the Monterey Auto Week. So, this is the UK’s equivalent of the Concours d’LeMons…

In 2014, Ed Rattley’s 1985 Nissan Cherry Europe took home the spoils in a highly competitive event, but this year it was even tougher to pick a winner. This year, among the Allegros, Escorts, Fiesta, Cavaliers, Classic Car Weekly‘s Features Editor Nick Larkin’s Maestro, and AROnline Editor Craig Cheetham’s Rover 820e, a 1978 white Ford Escort triumphed. The runner-up was a Fiat 127 and the People’s Choice award went to Chris Reid’s Hillman Avenger Super estate.

After receiving the modest trophy, the owner of the winning Ford Escort, Barry Williams, said: ‘This is more than just a car – it means everything to me. My dad bought the car on 1 September 1978 and gave it to me about 10 years ago and it’s become something of a family heirloom.’

Vauxhall Cavalier 1.6SR

Spectators included Nicholas Parsons, who made a name for these cars in his hit television show, Sale of The Century, and turned out to admire the cars. He said: ‘What a joy to celebrate Britain’s forgotten and much maligned automotive legacy – the Festival has proved to once again be truly exceptional.’

Angus Forsyth, Hagerty’s Managing Director, said: ‘The majority of British drivers were born in the 1970s and ‘80s, yet so few preserved examples of the everyday runabouts and workhorses that littered the British roads of their youth remain.’

Judge Danny Hopkins, Editor of Practical Classics, added: ‘There are less of these cars on the road in Britain today than there are Testarossas and Countaches.’ Fellow judge, Tanya Field, who took the photographs, added, ‘Despite my clear BL leanings, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the everyday Fords, Vauxhall, and Rootes Group cars. Well done to the winners and also to everyone who brought cars along, whether entered formally or informally. Thanks are due to Hagerty for putting on this event. It is both unique and important.’



Keith Adams


  1. looks like my back cataloge of cars i have owned over the years
    from the austin 1300 (the toad) to the maestro (MG)escort estate R213
    Cavalier (sports hatch)

    Andy ex longbridge apprentice

  2. “Early” is such a subjective word but it is a Skoda! It’s an S100 from the 70’s. It looks very similar to the S100, spotted some years ago, at “Red October”, an event held at the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire, for Eastern-Bloc classic vehicles. No manifesto required!

    • you’re right of course, an early Skoda would date from the 20s. I should have said an early Estelle

  3. My car-owning history summed up.

    I had a Cavalier Mk1 in that same yellow – great car. I also had a Mk2 Cavalier SRi but not in that green, mine was red. Also had a Firenza, mine was white but this red one looks better. And a Mk1 Astra, but mine was badged an Opel Kadett – at the time when they were trading as Vauxhall-Opel.

  4. Craig must have agonised over which car to take, as his entire fleet is a “festival of the unexceptional”!
    The beige Rover 800, the doom blue Rover 200, or the gold Maestro – choices, choices…

    • You haven’t seen the non-BLARG crud yet. Ever since I bought my first car (an Allegro) I’ve had an incurable love of the underdog (with the exception of my Vitesse; not sure what came over me there). Anyway, you forgot to mention the Metro Rio…

    • Yeah, one year warranties, six month service intervals, dumb-ass punters coming back for a new car every three years because their car was falling apart by that stage, no internet to allow people to compare prices or reliability data… a good time to be in the motor trade!

  5. Blimey that Fiesta is so familiar to my first car, except i didn’t have the front fogs. My family called it dissentry beige, and I followed it up with a mk2 in the same colour.

  6. A great show of cars that re-kindles memories. My brother owned a burnt orange Morris 1300GT. I also remember well, the light Green metallic MKII Cavalier SRi, Signal Yellow Cavalier GL MKI, Firenza’s, Daytona Yellow Capri’s and the Bronze & gold Astra MK1 etc.

    No matter how good or bad these cars were in their day, they seemed to have more character than today’s models… or is that just me getting older?

  7. A very odd feeling for me . I have owned 75 cars in all, and not a single one appears in this collection of pics . Some lovely examples of 70s/80s kit though

  8. A bit off-topic but anyone feeling nostalgic about the more mundane aspects of British motoring since the 1950’s might care to splash out £3 on Mark Wallington’s humorous “The Auto Biography”, down from £14.99 in branches of The Works

  9. How I’d love to have been there!!

    I looked at the photos first and I thought “That’s Craig’s 820e!”

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