Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Classic cars at the racecourse

Every year, the “West Berks Classic Vehicle Club” organise a classic vehicle show at Newbury Racecourse (that’s horse racing) to raise funds for Leukaemia Research. This year was the 17th show and the best yet.

As the racecourse is so close to the Sterling Automotive workshops (you could throw an apple across the gap) we decided that we would use the show to announce our arrival back into the classic car scene.

Everything was set for a great day out and to make it perfect, we finally saw the first properly sunny day for a month. Hundreds of classic cars, motorbikes, trucks and military vehicles arrived for the 10.00am start and the visitors turned up in droves.

Having set everything up the day before, I just had the simple task of bringing the cars accross from the workshop one at a time and putting out a couple of leaflet stands. From then on, it was a case of just relaxing and being available to chat to anybody that had questions. I’d already decided that future name recognition was all we should be looking to achieve from the day and frankly, we already had so many signs, flags and banners out, that we weren’t going to benefit from selling ourselves any more than that anyway.

We had a great pitch, right in the entrance and the stunning cars that we lined up to impress the crowds were:

Aston Martin DB4

Porsche 356C

Jaguar C Type recreation

Lotus Elan

Triumph Mayflower

Mercedes 450SL

Mercedes 250S

VW Bay window camper

I wanted to ensure that we had something for everybody on the stand, from the exotic DB4 through to the two ‘work in progress’ vehicles.

The 250S Merc was there to demonstrate how we use soda blasting to remove paint from the cars that we restore. The process gently removes the paint without friction (or heat) to reveal any defects underneath. We showed it at the stage where we had removed the paint from waistline down to assess the remedial processes necessary and had started cutting out some of the sections of rot. Many visitors to the stand found it most fascinating to see a car that was in bare metal in parts but with old fibreglass, filler and previous repairs still showing and ready to be removed.

The camper van which was near completion for our works, was parked in the marquee with photo’s taped to the body showing what each panel looked like when it arrived with us. One of the many complimentary comments overheard was “I can’t believe that something so rotten can be made to look so pretty”. If we had achieved nothing else from the show, that would have been enough to send me home a very happy restorer.

With such a wide mix of cars on display, it’s hard to say what was most popular car but undoubtedly the star of the stand was the fully aluminium bodied C Type. Lot’s of people wanted photo’s of that one!

The chill out zone that we created at the back of our display area proved to be popular and the tea, coffee, biscuits, fruit and beer stocks declined nicely as the day went on. When family and friends arrived later in the afternoon, I knew I had found paradise on earth.

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