Classic car enthusiasts threaten to boycott Brooklands events

Classic car enthusiasts threaten to boycott Brooklands events

Classic car enthusiasts threaten to boycott Brooklands events

Drivers of classic cars are threatening to boycott a popular show after the owner of a Leyland Princess was turned away, being told it was “not a classic.”

John Kingsford drove his 1978 Princess 70 miles to the Autumn Classic Breakfast meet at Brooklands on Sunday 26 October.

But, as the classic car enthusiast arrived in his 36-year-old car, a steward told him it wasn’t a classic, and he should park it in the visitors’ car park.

Kingsford told Motoring Research: “If I were organising a classic show, I’d be loathe to set particular guidelines as it’s impossible to define what is and what is not a classic. I occasionally attend MG shows in my 1998 MGF Abingdon and many people would argue that that is a modern-day classic. Interestingly there were several MGFs at Brooklands that day (having been told my car wasn’t old enough to get in!) and I was delighted to see them.

“Other modern cars that got in were my friends’ 996 Porsche 911 and 1999 Mercedes-Benz SL, and countless other post-1973 cars.”

A post on the Facebook page about the incident has attracted lots of attention, with people calling for a boycott on future Brooklands events.

Richard Hughes commented: “Disgraceful. Bet it was full of dull, common cars like Triumph TRs and MGBs as well. Us practical classic owners might have to start boycotting Brooklands if an apology is not forthcoming.”

Others questioned what makes a car a classic – whether it’s the age, its rarity, or how many are left on the roads.

The Princess was made by British Leyland from 1975 to 1981. Princess was a brand in its own right, although it was marketed as the Austin Princess in New Zealand, and succeeded by the Austin Ambassador.

Kingsford added, “I certainly won’t attend another Classic Breakfast at Brooklands. I do love the place and I go there a couple of times a year (normally for MG and Jaguar events), but I won’t risk being turned away again.”

Despite Princess production totalling nearly 225,000 cars, there are thought to be fewer than 500 left on our roads today.

Motoring Research has contacted Brooklands but the company is yet to comment.

9 replies
  1. Blair
    Blair says:

    It was only because it wasn’t something exotic or “cool” like a Minor. The Classic Car Show organisers should be encouraging those with the older “bread and butter” cars to attend so that the younger generation could see what their parents and grandparents drove back in the 70s and 80s. Brooklands should be ashamed of themselves. Any reply from them yet?!

  2. Craig Woolsey
    Craig Woolsey says:

    I was at the same event in a 1990 Range Rover Classic, some may argue at 24 yrs old whether my vehicle is a classic. (Something in the name) . They took my money at the gate (£12) followed in by two friends in newer cars a ’99 SL and 2004 911
    I was ushered round the back of a hanger up by the old racing bank in what looked like a general car park area judging the modern day cars that were there, whilst my friends were parked up with the rest of the classic vehicle on display that morning.
    No I won’t be attending another Brooklands event.

  3. Allan Winn
    Allan Winn says:

    We hold our hands up and apologise to Mr Kingsford and anybody else who feels their Classic was unfairly treated at our Breakfast on Sunday. It was not our intention to discriminate against anybody, far less the driver of a Classic, and we will make sure that our Gate staff are very clear on our policy at all future events.
    EVERYBODY, no matter what they are driving, is welcome at our Classic Breakfasts, and all cars, no matter of what age, are admitted through the Campbell Gate for the breakfast period, which runs from 8am to 9:30am – though, of course, they are welcome to stay all day and enjoy the Museum. As it is a Classic Breakfast, first priority for parking in the Paddock and other areas close to the Clubhouse is given to the older classics (ie the pre-1974 tax-exempt ones) with others, including interesting younger cars, parked in the areas slightly further away, including on the Finishing Straight behind the Hangar. Tickets to our Classic Breakfasts sold before normal opening time include the cost of a full breakfast as well as admission to the site. Our policy is not to ask people to pre-book space in the Paddock, although we do set aside other areas for clubs wishing to make a block booking.
    After 9:30 on a Classic Breakfast day, and from the normal 10am opening on other weekend days, when we are just selling regular tickets to the site, our usual policy for admissions at the Campbell Gate is Classics and our own Club Level Members only, with all others using our signposted Public Car Park. That obviously varies for special event days when we often have specific restrictions depending on the event (eg Italian, pre-war, buses etc only).
    The confusion last Sunday arose over the grey area of what is a “Classic” – a question to which there is, of course, no cut-and-dried answer. Unfortunately, definitions like “A Classic is whatever its owner considers it to be” are not at all helpful to gate staff who are trying to manage admissions to suit the particular event and the space available on the day. Given the limited amount of space we have on the Museum site – especially if we have any form of activity going on, such as Test Hill, which was in action for the Breakfast cars on Sunday– we sometimes have to restrict the definition to the strict pre-1974 tax-exempt vehicles. At other events with no organised activity – especially for New Year’s Day, for instance – we can be a bit more flexible in our interpretation of what is a Classic, but our over-riding rule will always be that we try to accommodate as many people (and their cars) as possible.
    Two things come out of Sunday’s unfortunate confusion. Firstly, we would like to offer Mr Kingsford and anybody else who was inconvenienced by our mistake complimentary tickets to our New Year’s Day event (please contact me via email Secondly, we will make sure that the full details of gate policy are posted on our website well before each event in the future. Again, we must emphasise that Brooklands Museum is run by enthusiasts who want other enthusiasts – and the general public – to enjoy driving and seeing Classic vehicles, and we are horrified that our mistakes on Sunday have damaged our standing in the Classic community. Sorry.

    Allan Winn
    Brooklands Museum

  4. Jai
    Jai says:

    Whilst I was not involved in the events described by those in the article and Allan, I will say that what happened created a very un-welcomed atmosphere that I have never experienced at classic car event before. This ruined the spirit of the day and those in my party and we have agreed amongst the group that Brooklands is not necessarily the first choice for future days out, if at all.

  5. PeterB
    PeterB says:

    The argument that everyone seems to be making, apart from the guy at the Brooklands’ gate, is that “old” equates to “classic”.

    Personally I am far from sure about all this. I think there is a difference.

  6. Blair
    Blair says:

    Interesting point, Peter. A Morris Minor is regarded as a classic even though all it was was a bread and butter car in it’s day with very little different to other cars built at the same time. The Princess on the other hand, though also a bread and butter car had many features unique to it and was a “classic” version of the ’70s wedge shape… So as the Moggie is now regarded as a classic, so should the Wedge… Just because it isn’t fancy or expensive doesn’t mean it’s not a classic…

  7. ksrl
    ksrl says:

    Get some perspective guys ! One volunteer at Brooklands made a bad call so a campaign follows to trash the reputation and hard work of the entire Brooklands complex and all their hard working staff. Really ? What will placate these people , the closure of one of the finest museums of its kind ?
    Allan has offered his apologies and complimentary tickets to those affected . Allan is a top bloke and will no doubt continue making efforts to put this right so why not take him at his word , draw a line under this and move on .

  8. Blair
    Blair says:

    Hardly trashing them, ksrl. Just pointing out what happened so it doesn’t happen again. If John hadn’t highlighted the issue then the “damage” to Brooklands in reduced attendance at future events would have been far worse, probably with them wondering why it was happening. As it is they’ve had the issue brought to their attention and, in my view, sorted it, a positive result. The rest of the discussion came form a question about what actually constitutes a “classic”, something which it is doubtful anyone will agree on! 😉

  9. hitch436
    hitch436 says:

    i find this laughable that people blame brooklands museum for the actions of a trumped up car owner who likes to bend the truth just to get free tickets. the owner was told that test hill was currently running and that he could either park in the heights car park or on the slope of the hill as no cars were allowed down so that no confusion would occur with cars coming in and going up test hill. this however wasnt acceptable for him and decided to storm off and tell everyone a bunch of lies. if this shameful display of unfounded nonsense did put you off going to brooklands then it was for the best as obviously you are inclined to believe anything


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