The Classic Motor Show is the last big event of the UK motoring calendar, and is officially the world’s largest gathering of classic car clubs, covering everything from ACs to Zastavas.
The show features over 3,000 cars, the majority of which are immaculate original or meticulously restored examples of their marque. But dotted around here and there are the oddities, the freaks, and the curveballs.
Here are a few of my favourites.
The Spoxster (or is that Beedster?)
Let’s start with this very Marmite Porsche ‘386’ from Iconic Auto Body, a modern interpretation of the 356 Speedster, using a first- or second-generation Porsche Boxster as a donor. Personally, I think it’s pretty cool – because let’s be honest, even though it’s got a face like a manatee, it’s still a damn sight better looking than a standard Boxster – but there were plenty of Porsche aficionados turning their noses up at it.
I was going to save this next car till the end, but as it’s lurking ominously in the background of the Porsche photo, let’s take a look at it now.
Calling International Rescue
Before you read another word, just feast your eyes on this.
Yep, it’s an all-metal, fully road legal homage to Thunderbird 2, based on a 1994 Toyota Previa – which means that, as with the previous car, its looks have been considerably improved. It comes fully loaded with a DVD player and a bed, and apparently ‘drives really well’. Man, what I wouldn’t give to see this thing going sideways ’round the Nurburgring.
Like it? It’s yours for the bargain price of just £43,210 (see what they did there?)
A crazy Stag ’do
Another one that’s perhaps not for the purists, is The Wild Stag. Like a Stars In Your Eyes version of Eleanor, this 1972 Triumph Stag acquired its chiseled new jawline partly from a desire by builders Low Gear to do something other than a standard restoration, and partly because – in typical British Leyland fashion – most of the old metal had rotted away.
I think it’s actually quite a handsome little fella which obviously has the requisite V8 rumble, although to my eyes it would probably benefit from being hit with the lowering stick and getting a decent pair of shoes.
Meet the boss
Taking pride of place at the entrance to Hall 5, was what at first glance may look like a Mk2 Ford Capri with a glam rock paint job. But look a little closer and you’ll spot the Boss 302 insignia.
This particular Capri is one of only eight known Jeff Uren ‘Stampede’ conversions, boasting a 5-litre V8 from a Mustang along with a bunch of other go-faster goodies that would catapult it from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds – on par with a Ferrari Daytona.
The humble Morris Marina. A thing of ridicule these days, thanks to Clarkson and his piano-wielding mob of cronies. But I think there’s something quite comforting about the unassuming blandness of it. It takes me back to more innocent times when, despite its numerous and well-documented flaws, a Buy British mantra ensured that at least one of your mates’ dads had one.
And if the idea of owning a Marina does float your boat, why not spice things up with a jam sandwich makeover and a big blue light, as with this lovely ex-Lincolnshire Constabulary patrol car.
Tell the truth: in your head, you’re making the nee-naw-nee-naw noise, aren’t you?
The ‘shorty’ craze – chop the midsection out of a car and stick the two halves back together to create a strange stumpy microcar – seems to be confined to a few select marques and models. I’ve seen Volkswagens and Minis of all ages get the treatment, but I’ve yet to see a shorty Dolomite Sprint.
Even if the very idea of a DIY short wheelbase car screams cut-and-shut, you can’t fail to be impressed by this remarkably accomplished 2008 Volkswagen Beetle from shorty specialists Odd Autos.
Despite having a whopping 26 inches of metal removed from its middle, the doors and electric hood still function exactly as they did when the car left the factory. And the addition of air ride and Rotiform wheels give it a great stance.
Clever use of the cropped decals too.
Although it looks unashamedly cartoonish, the proportions actually look pretty good in a cutesy kinda way. Maybe VW should consider something similar as a run-out model before the end of Beetle production next year.
A new Horizon
I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the Horizon (badged as either a Chrysler, Talbot, Simca, Plymouth or Dodge Omni depending on your location). My brother had a brand new one as a company car, and I used to sit on his lap and steer it up and down my parents’ cul-de-sac. Technically, it’s probably the first car I ever drove. Aged eight-and-a-half.
This particular one is reputedly the lowest mileage Horizon in existence, with just over 300 miles on the clock. This is down to having never been registered for the road, after being won as a presumably unwanted prize in an airline’s employee lottery.
When was the last time you saw one of these? In fact, if you’re under 30 and/or live outside the UK, you’ve probably never seen one. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the result of a drunken one-night stand between a Reliant Robin and a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.
And yet the Invacar was a pretty common sight until 2003, when a safety-conscious Government cull decimated the numbers, from 203 registered examples to just 13. Hundreds of stockpiled Invacars and spare parts were also destroyed. Basically, this poor little thing was almost wiped off the face of the planet.
Happily, the picture is a little rosier today, with 47 road legal cars, presumably in the hands of museums and eccentric collectors.
And finally, my Car Of The Show. In fact, if you’ll excuse the hyperbole, I’d call it an automotive work of art. Somewhere in there, underneath all that ingenuity and vision, is a 1937 Wolseley 12/48 which, in standard guise, is a fairly innocuous looking pre-war family saloon. Not any more.
Whether you’re into rat rods or not, you can’t fail to be impressed by the level of craft and detail that has gone into this build. I spent a good half an hour with the car and its owner, going through the car and taking it all in.
The Wolseley Owners Club welcomed the car with open arms – probably wise to the attraction of having such an outrageous eyeball magnet gracing their stand at the Classic Motor Show.
You see that number plate light? That’s a 50-calibre bullet casing, a memento from the owner’s time spent in the forces during the Gulf War. Personal touches like this are all over the car.
And that box on the back? That’s where the shopping goes.
Because this is a daily driver. It has four seats, does the school run and the trips to Aldi. This is the antithesis of your typical show car trailer queen.
As you can probably tell, I properly fell in love with this car. It’s my highlight of the show and the one car – out of the thousands on show – that I’d like in my garage.
If you want to see more of my photos from the 2018 Classic Motor Show click here.