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.’
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.’