Only Fools And Horses actor John 'Boycie' Challis was the special guest at this year's Great Western Classic Car Show on 10-11 February – but he was far from the only star at the event.
Challis was delighted, as he walked around the halls, to spot Norton Radstock Classic Vehicle Club's 'Boycy’s Car Sales' tableau (we'll forgive them the spelling mistake). The club's line-up included a mint Bluebird Blue Vauxhall FE VX4/90 and a Jag 420, all with comedy advertising banners – such as ‘One company owner (many dodgy drivers)’ on a superb Vauxhall FB Victor.
“The first car that I drove was a Standard Eight, and there’s one here,” said Challis. “My parents had a Popular, then an Anglia and a Cortina; my mother always bought Fords. I’m full of admiration for everyone who keeps these wonderful old motors alive.”
Aside from Challis' celebrity turn, though, the real stars were the many beautiful cars on show.
Chief among them was Trevor Fox’s superb 1959 Aston Martin DB MkIII. Presented with copies of period adverts plus Bond memorabilia, it was only finished on the Friday before the event but still managed to scoop Best Car in Show.
“We bought it 20 years ago,” he recalled, “and used it all the time, including for lots of family holidays. What began as a tidy-up turned into a full restoration, the way they all do.
"I’m delighted to have won the prize, but this is the best that it’s going to be, because we can’t wait to start using it again.”
Most Interesting Vehicle went to Roger Hampshire’s immaculate 1980 Ford Cortina MkV 2.0 Ghia. “I bought it in ’86,” he recalled. “It was our family car for about 15 years, and has been regularly used ever since. It’s done 141,000 miles, but has only needed a clutch and a radiator – the rest was just the usual servicing.
"The car was also used in the episode of Stars In Their Cars that featured Phil Tufnell; he had a Cortina as a company car when he started working as a salesman for the family firm.”
Boycie's friends on the Norton Radstock used-car lot took runner-up in the Best Stand content, with the rally-inspired display staged by the Somerset branch of the Ford Mark II Owners’ Club taking the top honours.
The Volvo Enthusiasts’ Club came third with Happy Mid-Summer in Volvo-by-the-Sea, featuring an ice-cream vendor and a Punch & Judy show. Pride of place went to club chairman Kevin Price’s exactingly restored Volvo P1800, which featured in The Saint and which was presented with a cardboard cutout of the late Sir Roger Moore.
An outstanding Gilbern Owners’ Club group included the 1972 Invader Mk2 that Gavin McArdle bought when it was about 18 months old and has kept ever since.
“I started the restoration in 2012,” he recalled, “and it was finished four years later. It’s now mainly used for showing off!”
Meanwhile, Simon Doe’s estate – one of only 10 known to survive – has been in his family for 42 years: “I remember being collected and transported in it as a kid, squeezing into the back seat with my brother. I took over ownership about 15 years ago and now take my children in the back.”
A fascinating display from the Ford Sidevalve Owners’ Club featured a bare chassis from a restoration project, plus a Prefect, an Anglia and a Popular – and even a Siva Edwardian Tourer, owned by John Porter.
The vintage-style kit, devised by Michael Saunders and Neville Trickett and launched in 1969, used a heavy-gauge glassfibre body and Ford Sidevalve running gear. Jon Pertwee drove a similar Edwardian, called Bessie, when he was Doctor Who in the early ’70s.
Blizzards and bitterly cold winds didn’t deter plenty of people from bringing their old cars to the event, with vehicles on show spanning everything from pre-war MGs to youngtimer Audis and Peugeots. There was even a mint – and now ultra-rare – Maestro van in British Telecom livery.
Other notable vehicles included an early Jaguar XJ-S, with signature GKN Kent alloys wheels, which drew lots of attention on the Yeovil Car Club stand. Classics looking for new homes included a rare 1965 BSA Beagle – a model only made for 18 months – at £1350ono. Charterhouse Auctions, meanwhile, had a successful day, with a sale total of £200,000.
Here are some of our other favourites from around the classic car park…
Mortons Media’s next fixture at the Royal Bath & West Showground is the Bristol Classic Car show on 16-17 June: see more info at www.bristolclassiccarshows.com
Both Best Stand winners’ photos courtesy of Mortons Media