Scouting for Restoration Rick!
What cars are the nations enthusiasts really interested in?
Now it may come as a surprise to my fans - both of them, but I actually aren't the clever 'word wizard' I may come across as. I'll be honest, I have literally no clue what I'm doing and my few successes in life are generally down to blind luck or people cleverer than me 'helping me out'.
I'd like to say I've been commissioned by my good friend and colleague, the professional Clarkson baiter 'Richard Hammond' to do some investigative journalism and get my finger on the pulse of the nation's car enthusiast scene.
However, this would be as honest as claiming Chris Evans made the best Top Gear.
So where are you going with this?
Well, last night I accidentally went to a car meet.
Okay, I haven't seen my sister for a bit, so I offered to pop over for an hour. She said it was such a nice night why don't we meet at the Swettenham Arms instead, have a walk around the arboretum and sit out and have a pint? This seemed like a nice idea so I agreed. However, on turning up at the up I was presented with what appeared to be a small but fairly eclectic car show.
The Volvo was really generating a lot of interest! Well, erm, no... No it wasn't.
There were sportscars, modern cars, classic cars, luxury cars, American cars. There was some really interesting metal on display. I was REALLY glad I'd decided to come in the Porsche rather than the Toyota at this point!
I have no idea what this particular classic car was, but it was very, very cool. Is it a two seater? Is it a four seater? Well it's kind of both.
The boot seats.
Pop open the boot and two little jump seats slide out and part of the boot lid forms a nice little windscreen for your rear passengers! I have to say, this was a clever idea and well engineered - but by today's standards, it didn't look very safe. It must have been reasonably safe though as when the car left, four adults piled in for the drive and YES two of them were perched in the back there!
A Ferrari 488 Pista
Now the eagle-eyed among you might have already spotted something 'interesting' next to the classic. This was a very nicely presented Ferrari 488 Pista. The guy who eventually drove off in it was actually quite young. I can only assume he's a footballer or an investment banker, as when I checked the model out on Autotrader it transpired that there are 33 for sale in the UK at the moment. The cheapest: a steal at £290,000, the most expensive half a million. This one was a 70 plate so I suspect its worth is well into the 'absurdly expensive' category.
Ginetta and Speedster
Not that the Ferrari was the only car competing for the most expensive car at the show award. There was also THIS!
No! Not the little Ginetta! I'm talking about the Porsche 911 Speedster behind it. Really example, I've never seen one in the metal before.
There were some oddballs here too, like this Reliant Scimitar. Personally I always preferred the earlier shooting brake model.
There were also some nice TVRs, like the yellow Chimera or Griffith in the background and this more modern one which I have no idea what it's called. It's nice though.
British and Italian Sportscars
There were interesting cars for most budgets here too. Here we see a British Racing Green Triumph Spitfire alongside a pair of Ferrari 430s.
Speaking of Ferrari's, this pair of 430's were parked next to each other and were more or less identical. Personally I prefer the one with the beige interior than the black.
Alfa and Mini
There were one or two original Minis. This one was on an L registration so an early 90s car. It was in showroom condition. The Alfa was really nice too. I can't remember what this model is called off the top of my head but I think a friend of mine bought one? He cited it possibly one of the best driver's cars of all time? Can anyone help me out in the comments with what these obscure cars are?
Spot my Porsche!
I purposefully avoided photographing my own car at this event, though you might be able to spot it here if you look carefully. The yellow roadster is a Fiat and next to it is a Sunbeam, though you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a Hillman Imp. It was lucky that I came on this night and it was lucky I'd chosen to take the Porsche out for a run. It wasn't lucky that I hadn't washed it for ages so it looked like I'd been in the Lombard RAC and a homeless person had been living in it for a week. I did see a few people giving it a once over, but I suspect it would have had more admirers if it'd turned up in a better state!
A rare 4 seater Morgan
You may not know this but Morgan have done 4 seaters in the past. I've hardly ever seen any in the metal, but there was one here, next to this nice Midget. They're a bit of an odd looking car. There's something nautical and boat-like about the shape of the rear end? Still if you HAVE to have a Morgan and you DO have a family... Well, there's your answer!
More Morgans and Minis
There were quite a few Morgans dotted about. I was particularly impressed with this Mini van though. It's genuinely in far better condition than it would have left the factory in all those years ago!
I can't imagine how you keep an engine bay looking like this!
A modified BMW
There was also representation from the modified car scene. This BMW was sporting racing seats and a full roll cage along with what looked like some serious engine mods. This looks like a car somebody bought and modified to drive on track.
A time-warp 205 GTi
These were a hot hatch icon in the 90s. Arguably the best and most desirable of the era. They were quick and handled well. This particular example is a true time-warp car. It looks in a better state than a brand spanker at a Peugeot dealership when they were new. it even has the big slide-back glass sunroof! The interior looks untouched.
As well as being an immaculate example of automotive history this 205 GTi is also for sale. If you're interested drop Ashley a line. You could be adding this to your collection today!
As well as the Italian, British and German cars there was some Japanese and American cars. This Corvette looked great.
A cousin of my 997
My Porsche 911 wasn't short on company either. There was the 992 Speedster, a 996 Carrera 4 and this 997 which looks like a GTS or a Carrera with Aero kit.
So what is trending at the moment in the car enthusiast scene? What sort of cars should young Rick be lining up to restore on his show?
That's a really tough one to call. Having sat and paid attention to what cars were generating the most interest while I supped my pint, I'd say not much really stood out as getting much more attention. If anything the three things that probably did matter, were rarity, unusualness and how well polished and cleaned they were. I'm sure the guys in the workshop can handle the last one, but what Richard needs to look for to win over car enthusiast viewers has to be rare and unusual. I don't think country of origin necessarily matters that much, or even worth. There were often more people crowded around ancient, cheap British sportscars than the half-million-pounds 488 Pista.
If you'd like to see more cars like this, why not pay the Swettenham Arms at Somerford a visit one Tuesday evening? Apparently there's a free hotdog for every driver of a cherished vehicle and one passenger between 7pm and 7:30pm! [ I was too late so I missed mine! :( ]
With our huge car park and idyllic rural location, we're a popular venue for classic car enthusiasts. Not only do we hold our own events for owners of cherished
With the cars I've shown you in mind, what sort of things would you like to see restored on Richard Hammond's new car restoration show?
showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken serious
Stories and images of supercar crashes, in honour of veteran crasher Hammond
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