This fabulous event was held in lovely summer weather on 17th July, which really must have helped to bring the crowds out with what looked to be a record breaking attendance this year. The show was started a dozen or so years ago by a classic car enthusiast and it has gone from strength to strength each year. The beautiful setting for the show, in the grounds of Sherborne Castle, must be a major contributing factor to the success of the event. Over the last couple of years the organisation of the whole thing has been handed over from the original instigator to the Rotary Clubs of Yeo Vale and Sherborne Castles who have formed a not-for-profit company to co-ordinate the event. Working with the staff at Sherborne Castle the clubs organise everything so well and so smoothly that a good day out is guaranteed for all with, of course, all profits going to charity and a massive £20,000 was raised last year for Cancer Research UK and local charities.
One visitor left Norfolk early in the morning to drive over to Sherborne and another drove across from Brighton but these were but two amongst the many who had travelled long distances to enjoy this event. There were many visiting car clubs who had driven here for the day to meet up and exhibit their cars. It was also a great day out for local families with children under 16 entering free when accompanied by a paying adult.
And then there were the cars, which after all is what everyone has come to see. Now I am no petrol-head but I enjoyed it enormously just wandering about looking at this and that. But then there was the announcement that there was to be the arrival of the McLaren convoy from a specialist car group in Bristol and with some mighty roars from various engines that reverberated around the old building they proceeded down the road in front of the Castle and parked up in formation. This was a fine example of the ‘Supercar’ element of the show. I could not believe how exciting and exhilarating this is and I do so like to see people who are passionate about what they enjoy and this feeling was palpable all over the show grounds. Some would convene for a convivial picnic in the sunshine sitting at the back of their ‘pride and joy’ in all its glory but others would sit down to a silver service lunch in a marquee and there were refreshments of all kinds to be had. We enjoyed a glass of Prosecco and a locally produced sausage roll while listening to the foot-tapping sounds of the jazz band.
There were many great vehicles both new and old to see
One of the cars on display, a Lotus Europa JPS Special, really took me back as I remember that this car once epitomised all that was desirable, but totally unobtainable, for my younger brother who attended the London Motor Show each year from a very young age and assiduously collected leaflets and copies of Autocar. Surprisingly, up in my loft, I have a box containing some of his remaining memorabilia and from amongst it I found a contemporary leaflet from 1973 for the Lotus complete with decorative ‘dolly-bird’. I also found an advertisement for John Player Specials on the back of a copy of Autocar, luckily containing a rather modest government health warning, as just look what a glamorous lifestyle you could be part of for such a modest outlay – 30p for 20!
I came across a Sprite Caravan from the 1960s and it has to be said this was my very favourite item in the whole show. Stepping inside it was like going back in time to when a holiday in our family meant renting a caravan somewhere on the coast and spending a week or even two living in this congenial, small but well designed space. The little Sprite had its original footpump to pump the water up into the sink. And when I asked where the fourth bed would be, apparently a sling bed, a bit like a stretcher, could be produced with two poles and some rubber feet which meant it could be slung over the top of the other single bed to make bunk beds – how very ingenious caravan designers have to be.
The photos above show a happily remembered caravan holiday (Bowleaze Cove in 1951) with its own garden to picnic in!
The show will be on again next year and for the first time it will be spread over two days so make a note in your diaries for 15th and 16th July 2017.