28 08 2018

Judgement Time: The Fifth Unexceptional

Hagerty’s Festival of the Unexceptional judges give their view of the 2018 event.

The fifth Festival of the Unexceptional was the best yet – with excellent weather, a top array of cars in the concours and in the car park, and some excellent stories to be told. The concours was won by Guy Maylam’s Chrysler Alpine, with Kevin Curtis’s Nissan Bluebird (by Datsun) in second place. The People’s Choice award was won by Gavin Bushby’s Fiat Strada.

The judges felt that the event had surpassed itself for yet another year. Gadget Show host Jon Bentley said: “As ever the Festival bristled with stories of dedication to cars that would otherwise be in danger of extinction; irreplaceable examples of automotive heritage saved from scrap by sheer dedication and ingenuity. Though all the cars and owners were fascinating, a few stood out, and judging was a cordial and smooth process. The winning Chrysler Alpine was particularly inspirational. Once popular these neatly styled Anglo-French cars suffered badly from rust and disintegrating trim when nearly new. The task of restoring a 41 year-old example to showroom condition was mammoth but impeccably accomplished by Guy Maylam and his friends who even sourced rare upholstery material in France. A spectacular achievement. The Festival is my favourite car show. Every year I wish it would last longer so I could talk to more people about their cars.”

Practical Classics editor Danny Hopkins said: “Another great year for the Festival, it just gets better and better and better. There is no finer gathering of automotive magnificence and no more dedicated bunch of classic car addicts. A perfect day to celebrate the cars we remember on our driveways, not our walls... well done all... and thank you Hagerty.”

Tanya Field, British Leyland enthusiast and expert, added: “While the quality and diversity of the unexceptional cars we were judging was fantastic, as a group of judges the we were quite quickly able to agree a short list and after some deliberation, we came up with the various winners, and also just as importantly for us, the honourable mentions.  This event continues to grow while keeping these unexceptional cars, and just as importantly their owners who are so passionate about them at its heart and that makes the Festival of the Unexceptional a joy to be part of.”

Personally, I felt that the diversity of the event this year was brilliant. The fact that we had MK2 Vauxhall Astras and Lancia Trevis on the same field was astounding – both unexceptional in very different ways and equally worthy of celebration. The fact that the event was won by such a core Unexceptional car as the Chrysler Alpine was the icing on the cake, of what has become the best classic car event of the year.

My best story from the day has to be that of Mercedes-Benz 200T owner Julie Gandolfi. Her parents’ family car when she was growing up, there was only one car they would let their little girl drive when she reached 17 and passed her test. The vast Mercedes would keep her safe. Several years later, not only does she still own it but she’s had it restored to boot.

The Festival is a unique event – not only do you see people taking pride in cars that most would walk past, but it’s about more than that. Stick your head into a 1980s Ford, Vauxhall or Rover and it smells like childhood – though maybe less smokey than the real thing was. The dashboard of a MK2 Astra can be more evocative to more people than the steering wheel of a Ferrari or the seats of a Rolls-Royce; while more mundane it holds a greater meaning for more people. And that’s what the Festival is ultimately about – people, and how we react to those items which tie us to our past. Long may it continue.

The Festival of the Unexceptional will return for 2019 – visit www.unexceptionalcars.co.uk for more information.

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1 reader comments

  • 1
    Julian Goettingen, lower saxony September 05, 2018 at 5:09am
    Hey, thats a good idea - a meeting of the "workhoses" und base cars of the years between 1968 to 1989 - the "forgotten everyda<-heroes". I myself drive a sierra estate "CL" with 1,6 OHC carburettor engine with 4 speed box - an i like it! Because i´m not so interested at some GTIs, potent Audi, BMWs and Benz - i like more the citroen 2CV Delivery van and cars in this kind... With best regrads from goettingen! Julian