Buntingford Classic car show - a vintage day out
PUBLISHED: 16:45 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:45 01 September 2017
A happy band of vintage vehicle enthusiasts more than 200 strong will create a classic spectacle for thousands in Buntingford's winding high street this month. It's a riot of design and eccentricity, writes Keri Jordan. Images courtesy of Graham Bonner
It may be Hertfordshire’s smallest town but for automobile aficionados, all roads lead to Buntingford for a day of vintage fun and festivities this month. The historic high street is set to resonate with the sound of well-loved engines as more than 200 classic cars, motorbikes, trucks and tractors park up on the cobbles to take part in the 17th Buntingford Classic. And behind the wheels and handlebars – that happy oil-under-the-finger breed – the classic vehicle owner.
The brainchild of former town councillor, John Warren – who was keen to add a car show to the area’s annual calendar – the event continues to grow in popularity and now attracts more than 2,000 visitors to the East Herts town each year. Talking to former Mayor of Buntingford and Chamber of Commerce events co-ordinator, Graham Bonner, who has managed the organisation of the show for the past eight years, it’s clear you don’t have to be a petrol head to be able to appreciate the appeal of these vintage vehicles.
All classic cars have a character and often a fascinating tale to tell. From a bygone era when freehand design was unhindered by today’s stringent safety tests and efficiency targets, they were built by hand by skilled craftsmen, and their often outlandish swooping lines and polished chrome represents an intricate level of craftsmanship that sets them apart from today’s mass-produced models. The look, feel and even smell of these vehicles reflects the trends, aspirations and technical know-how of decades past.
When I look at a classic car, I often wonder about its story – where it’s been, who has travelled in it, and the eventful journey it’s been on in order for it to still be in service. The more you learn, the more a car begins to take on its own unique personality. Similarly, the choice of make, model and colour and the effort of maintaining a classic car (hello rust!) says a great deal about the personality of its owner. From undertaking painstaking restoration projects to balancing the delicate requirements of antique mechanical systems, vintage car enthusiasts need to become near-experts in engineering, history and project management, with proficient problem solving skills too! With all that love bestowed on a vehicle, it’s no wonder they want to show them off.
‘Classic car owners gain tremendous satisfaction from exhibiting their cars at the show,’ explains Graham. ‘There’s a camaraderie among enthusiasts in sharing stories of their vehicles and swapping tips on their upkeep. Plus the whole event takes place along the main high street so not having to park in muddy fields as with many other car shows is an added bonus.’
Just as well, because the show regularly attracts a range of rare and exclusive vehicles that would not take well to being stuck in the mud. Shows from previous years have featured a Green Goddess fire engine, a £3.5m Ferrari, a 1904 Humber Swing Seat Tonneau – the last surviving car of its kind, and even the 440 Dodge Monaco Bluesmobile from The Blues Brothers film.
The Nostalgic and Unusual Transport Society (NUTS) will once again be bringing a selection of their classic cars to the show, which date as far back as the earliest days of motoring. NUTS will be in their usual spot in the garden of the old Grammar School, which closed its doors in 1877. How extraordinary to think there may be vehicles at this year’s show that could have been driving the streets of Buntingford around that time, more than 100 years ago.
Other highlights this year include the food – a hog roast, several barbeques and a range of food stalls, as well as live music on the big stage from a range of local bands and musicians. Shops and local businesses will be running special offers throughout the day, and there will be the annual awards ceremony with prizes for best car, most interesting vehicle and other more out-there categories.
Admission to the event for spectators is free while exhibitors pay £5 to register a classic vehicle. The Royal British Legion will be collecting on the day for the Help For Heroes charity, and Herts and Essex Air Ambulance will be fundraising to support the life-saving service it provides.
‘The Buntingford Classic car show offers a rare opportunity to soak up real nostalgia in a historic picturesque setting,’ says Graham. ‘With all the vintage vehicles on display, live music all day, and plenty to eat and drink, it’s a great day out for classic car connoisseurs and the whole family.’
Buntingford Classic takes place from 11am-4pm on Saturday September 2. For more information and to register a vehicle to take part, visit the Buntingford Chamber of Commerce website: buntingfordchamberofcommerce.co.uk/buntingford-classic-car-show