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Classic shows

Classic shows Published: 23rd Apr 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Classic shows
Classic shows
Classic shows
Classic shows
Classic shows
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Ged Callaghan reveals how to enter your classic in a show to best effect

With Christmas all behind us (apart from the bills) it’s time to the think of the New Year ahead. Thoughts turn to summer and the pleasures of owning and driving a classic car. A great way to spend those long sunny days is by exhibiting your vehicle at a classic car show. If you’ve never done it before, this short guide will steer you through the hazards.

Getting started

The first thing to do is get online. There are lots of web sites that list classic car shows but the most comprehensive I’ve found is It gives month by month listings and allows you to search for shows specifi cally in your region. Of course, look out the extensive listing in Classic Motoring every month, too!

When you have found a show you’re interested in click on ‘more information’ as this will take you to new page which gives details of the show’s date, location and who is running the event. This page usually gives you a direct link to the event organizer’s website (View Website) where you can download and print off an entry form. Fill it all in and post it off to the organizer’s address. We asked a few show organizers to give us some top tips for the fi rst timer. You’ll not go far wrong if you follow Tim Williams’ advice to “Just enter your car, enjoy the day and learn as you go along”. Tim runs the Prestatyn Car Show in North Wales (2014 dates are 25th and 26th June). Mike Cowlam of The Bradford Classic told us: “The best advice is to turn up on time, go where you’re told and be friendly to the marshals they’re nearly all volunteers”. Andy Rouse of One Louder Events adds: “When you have a pass to get into a show, display it correctly as per instructions so your entry to the show is quick and smooth. Don’t be ‘that guy’ who has left it in a bag in the boot, rooting around frantically at the security with a big line of overheating classics waiting behind”.

When are they held?

Most shows are held on a Sunday during the season so plan ahead as you will need to book into the most popular shows months in advance. With lots of them coinciding on dates, it’s essential to keep a record of what you’ve signed up to. Or like me, you’ll double book yourself into two events on the same day…

How much to show off?

Now let’s deal with the thorny issue of cost, some organizers do charge for entries but the fees are negligible at around three pounds per entry. So, for the price of a doppio, double skinny macchiato, you can get a full day having your vehicle worshipped by visitors and fellow exhibitors alike maybe in stunning locations at the same time. The majority of the ones which I attend are on the front lawns of some of Cheshire’s most stately homes. However, an increasing number of events are charging owners to exhibit their cars – perhaps as much as £10, which when you also factor in fuel and subsistence can make for a pricey day out. Understandably, this factor alone is turning an increasing number of enthusiasts off the idea. And let’s face it, it’s not much of a car show without any classics to show off, is it? Some exhibitors, like Steven Smith of Greenwood Exhibitions, plays it fair and charges nominal costs to barely break even. Our advice is to contact the show organisers and get the prices before deciding on whether to attend.

Waiting game

Once you’ve signed up for your shows, paid the fees, now what? You wait because few organisers have the time or resources to acknowledge receipt of every single entry. So it’s a good idea to ring the organizers a few weeks after you send your entry applications to ask them if they’ve arrived. If they have been lost it’s easy at this point to reapply well before the closing date. So, spend that time putting those fi nishing touches to your classic, and don’t panic. If you’ve received nothing from the organizers two weeks before the show date then by all means you can panic! But if all’s well, two weeks before the show you should receive, the ominous sounding, final instructions, from the organizers. They will advise you on site safety, give you the post code and address of the show venue and the start/arrival time. If these fail to arrive at the two week cut off point, contact the show organizer. Now this may sound bleeding obvious but it’s essential that you read and take notice of the instructions – because failing to do so has caused numerous large headaches for all the show organizers we spoke to. Time and again they emphasised the importance of not just reading but following the instructions. It’s essential that you read these. Some of the organizers we spoke to agreed with this wholeheartedly. Andy Rouse of One Louder Events told us: “Just skim them even. Pick up all the basic info such as getting in/out days and times and so on. Most callers we get right in the run up to a show are asking basic questions that a quick look at the website or their paperwork would answer. Not that we mind answering them, that’s what we’re here for, but it just eats up a lot of the time we could be using to better the show”.


So at long last you got your fi nal instructions for the event and stopped pawing your first ever show passes. What now? The show season usually begins in April so there’s lots of time to get ready for the event such as fi nishing that longer-than-expected restoration.

Less obvious perhaps is to prepare your vehicle’s history. Dig out all the photos that you took of it when it was just a pile of rust in a barn. Pictures of you stripping off all the paint to discover it was the only thing holding the rust together along with some notes or captions attracts interest. You should be able to publish these pictures and produce them on a simple display board to place alongside your vehicle to show its transformation from rust to perfection – well, sort of. When including some text on the display board, add relevant dates, costs of parts added, etc, but keep it as simple as poss. Try to research the vehicle’s previous owners and, if you have them, some copies of documents relating to the vehicle, like the original purchase receipt. Mike Cowlam of The Bradford Classic show recommends that putting together an album of the restoration is always good. “People love to see the restoration process”.

Insurance – and are you covered?

Vehicles do occasionally suffer damage at shows. Some are even stolen straight from the fi elds. So it’s a good idea to ask your insurer if the special circumstances of a classic car show affect your cover in any way. Many organisers clearly state they are not responsible for anything untoward happening. Indeed, Andrew Greenwood’s Classic shows’ fi nal instructions always state that: “All vehicles must have valid insurance covering them for theft or damage. The organiser cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage to any vehicle however caused”.

That’s pretty unambiguous in any language. Additionally, Mike Cowlam of The Bradford Classic says at his event “Exhibitors show at their own risk. The organisers don’t pay for any damage and are not insured for it”.

Open or shut case?

You will have to think seriously about whether you feel comfortable letting the public close to your vehicle in a show situation. Some exhibitors are happy to have an ‘open door’ policy, letting visitors closely examine their car and even sitting in it. If this approach suits you then make sure you closely supervise people around your vehicle. Unfortunately, their dangling keys can scratch your paintwork and those rivets on jeans shred leather seats. Remember also to stow valuables out of sight. Thieves have targeted shows across the country including the recent Goodwood Revival meeting which, sadly, was blighted by professional pickpockets

Talking to the public

Now your display board is ready comes a major dilemma – will it give all your car’s information to the show’s visitors or will you? It differs among folk but I personally love talking to them; they’re invariably enthusiastic and knowledgeable and want to chat.

Over time, I’ve developed a sort of set speech to deliver, which highlights the features and idiosyncrasies of my car. But other people reserve the right to remain silent before the British public. It’s So don’t let your guard down when surrounded by enthusiastic admirers (of your car).You can feel a little overwhelmed by the public attention at some shows and it’s then that unfortunate things can happen. Be watchful if you let people sit in the car. It’s okay to ask them not to touch anything. Maybe make a little joke about it if it’s appropriate, something like, “The wife would kill me if it got damaged, thinks more of the car than she does me”. It can be very rewarding though when people really interact with your vehicle. But it is also quite acceptable to impose a ‘hands off’ approach if you feel that visitors may damage your car. You could put up a light hearted notice saying, “Look but please don’t touch” close to your exhibit and remind people through the day that it’s not just a car it’s your pride and joy. Most visitors will respect your choice. Don’t on the other hand get too shirty or heavy-handed. It was your choice to show off your classic and you can’t blame folks for wanting to have a close look, can you?

Selling stuff at shows

Most organisers are wary of allowing you to sell a few spares or garage clearings at classic car shows, as your little stall could be seen to be taking business away from on-site traders who have paid for their pitch. So check your entry terms and conditions on your fi nal instruction as some strictly forbid it while others regard it as okay as long as its within reason. Andy Rouse says his company who organise many indoor shows, “have to draw the line somewhere, as traders who have paid for space understandably get annoyed if people who haven’t physically paid for space compete with them. It just becomes a problem when clubs or individuals confl ict with the traders.
“Though, 99 per cent of the time this is understood and we don’t have any issues”, stresses Rouse.

On site catering

Thankfully, there is now much more choice at most events than a simple packed lunch or the burger and hog roast van. Indeed. many shows are held at stately homes and have really splendid dining facilities, often at fabulous prices, too so watch your budget. So for your fi rst show, scout out what’s available. I’ve enjoyed hog roasts, simple chippy vans while one National Trust place boasted a restaurant in a 15th century barn, so there’s real contrast. But sometimes it’s great just to chow down at the big burger van, heavy on the fries and with lashings of red sauce.

What to bring with you at a classic show

As most shows are held in fields, waterproof footwear is essential. A raincoat and a fl eece also take up little space and may be needed. Aim to bring a few layers as the British weather is always changeable – and has been lately. You’ll be sat in the outdoors most of the day so a windbreak can be useful. Some people go the extra mile and have awnings, huge umbrellas and even marquees. But unless you have a transit van to carry it all in, stick to the essentials like a folding chair. Mine has armrests and a cup holder. But there’s no need for such fl agrant ostentation.

Car show widows

If your wife or partner wants to spend the day with you at the car show then make sure they’re aware that the entire day will probably be spent in an open fi eld at the mercy of the elements where toilets are inevitably ‘thunder box’ type portaloos of varying standards.

Most car talk will be of the petrol head, gasket case type. BPH, MPH MPG, MGB, and so on…

Andy Rouse has organised lots of events and is in a position to advise. “If you have a partner, who isn’t interested, just don’t bring them”. Cowlam of The Bradford Classic says “Pick a show where there’s something else to see. For example, in the grounds of a country house , and then meet up for a long lunch”. Sounds ideal to us!

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