Car Show Photo Report – FBHVC Drive It Day 2024

Does this denote the start of the season, as they used to say in London? The FBHVC (the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, the club of historic and classic vehicle clubs that aggregates their voice to relevant parties) promotes an annual event known as Drive It Day, to bring classics out of winter hibernation and onto the road and to support a deserving charity. It is held on a Sunday in April, to celebrate the ‘One Thousand Mile Trial, an 11-day round-Britain public test, that started on 23 April 1900 to “prove the viability” of the motorcar, and times with many owners getting on the road for spring and summer as well.  Many marque and area clubs will organise something, and this is a summary of one such event, where four clubs gathered at the Shuttleworth Collection, an active museum dedicated to motoring and aviation history with a focus on Britain and pre-1939 flying. Here’s a mostly visual walk around of the informal display.

A line of Triumph, or Triumphs – TR3, TR6, TR7, Stag, Vitesse and another TR6.

This was my car of the show, based on the criterion of “which one would I like to drive home?”

A 1978 Daimler Sovereign Coupe, aka a Jaguar XJ-C 4.2 litre, perhaps my favourite Jaguar. This is a three owner car with an interesting life story, with registration in France and re-importation, and perhaps most important, a personable and engaging owner who clearly enjoyed his car and wanted others to as well.

Alongside is a 1962 Jaguar 3.8, as the Mk2 saloon was formally named.

The unusual vinyl roof was first to catch my eye – a 1971 Austin 1300 Mk 3 saloon. Under represented in the classic car world – this was perhaps the most significant and influential European car of the 1960s.

A 1954 Bentley R Type, wearing Hooper Empress bodywork. The R Type may have been a Bentley, and therefore an entry level offering from Rolls-Royce, but it was always a clear statement about the owner.

This example is currently for sale – if you have to ask the price, etc

One of the attending clubs was the local Vauxhall Owners’ Club – let’s celebrate some of Luton’s finest

A 1957 Vauxhall Velox E series – if you recall my piece about a recent trip to New Zealand there was one of these featured there, that does not yet quite match this standard.

2.2 litres, six cylinders and all set to give the Ford Zodiac, rather than Rover 90 or Humber Hawk, a run for its money. But you can imagine how glitzy the upmarket Cresta was….

This is a 1954 Velox, with calmer chrome work.

The E series was superseded by the PA series Cresta in 1957. This is a 1959 car, part of the first generation. Same engine as the E series, but bigger all round and even clearer North American styling cues.

From late 1959, that awkward rear window became one piece and later still the rear fins were toned down, a bit.

Calmer but still North American influenced styling came with the PB series in 1962. This is a 1964 car in fact one of the few (maybe the only) remaining example that were modified with a luxury leather and wood interior by the Harold Radford company. Twin headlights and Jaguar seats were part of the package, as well as the picnic tables, additional instrumentation, electric windows and aerial.

In 19+65 came the Cresta PC, an attempt to take the name a little upmarket with a less austere and deliberately calmer but contemporary appearance. Maybe that succeeded, but the wheels have always looked lost to me. The engine range, in the UK, was now just a 3.3 litre straight six whereas Ford were offering a multitude of options on the Zephyr and Zodiac.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this was the last Cresta and the last big Vauxhall. The name died in 1972.

The 1972 Vauxhall Victor FE series was partly Opel based, sharing key elements with the Opel Rekord D, and stepped up half a step in size from the Ford Cortina challenging FD series. This is the sports saloon version, known as the Vauxhall Vx4/90 – 4 cylinders (in this case the 2300cc slant engine) and 90 mph,  a designation used for the sports Victor since the early 1960s.

By 1975, Vauxhall was much further into the process of becoming a direct offshoot of Opel. The first Cavalier, a version of the GM U car, from 1975 was the first of the barely disguised Opel models in the middle market, aimed fair and square at the dominant Ford Cortina.

This is a 1978 2000GL; the only parts an Opel driver would not recognise were the big headlights and grille-less front clip. But it had Ford’s attention you can be sure. Later Cavaliers were British best sellers in the 1980s.

The VW Polo, of any generation, is a rare sighting at a classic car event. This is a 1988 1.3 litre second generation, larger than the Audi 50 derived first generation.

Many know these as “bread van Polos” – for obvious reasons.

Four headlights and flush wheel trims denote one of the posher trim levels and the rear spoiler framing the window denotes it is likely the Formel E version for economy, with a higher fifth gear.

Another car not regularly seen as a classic, or even as a curbside classic – the Ford Mondeo. In 1993, with this car Ford staked a very strong claim to class leadership in Europe in the mid-market. The Mk2 Vauxhall Cavalier/Mk1 Opel Vectra was fading, as were the Peugeot 405 and the VW Passat B3, and the Renault 21 had not really caught on outside France.  Toyota and Nissan had capable offerings, but not to the width and depth of ability of the Mondeo.

This is a 2000 Ghia, so top trim level, in the less popular saloon format. The mid-market Ford had come a long way in just 12 years from the last Cortina 2000 Ghia. Arguably, one of the unsung milestones in the improving standards of mid market cars over the last 30-40 years.

Talking of Cortinas, how about a 1965 Lotus Cortina Mk1, in the iconic white and green livery?

This was the first fast UK Ford, a concept that it is still around (the Puma ST is the latest) and which have entertained generations of British enthusiasts.

A car we can all agree should be in the classic car park –  a 1984 Audi quattro, the ur-quattro. The recipe sound simple –  a coupe version of the Audi 80 with the largest 2.1 litre five cylinder turbo charged engine with a four wheel drive system derived for a VW Iltis all terrain army vehicle.

Do you know how many were built in 11 years – just 11,452. Surprised? I was.

The VW Karmann Ghia gets a lot of love round here – this is a 1973 model which was imported to the UK in 2003.

I’m not clear where it was imported from, as it doesn’t appear to have US specification bumpers, but please correct me – I’m not CC’s leading Karmann Ghia expert or advocate by any means.

Still, you don’t need to be a marque fan to recognise a well cared for and presented car when you see one.

Being a 1973 car, from the Karmann Ghia’s year, it is a 1600cc.

And just one Alfa Romeo, but at least it was Rosso Alfa!

Here’s to the rest of the season!