It’s a classic car show with a difference: pampered Italian supercars are out, old British Leyland relics are in. The 2016 Festival of the Unexceptional was held at Whittlebury Park near Silverstone this weekend, celebrating the best of beige.
How many left?
To display your car at the ‘Concours de l’Ordinaire’ it had to be produced between 1968 and 1986. The 75 cars on display were all everyday cars from yesteryear – all alarmingly close to extinction.
Sponsored by specialist insurers Hagerty, the Festival of the Unexceptional is in its third year. Where else would you get to see such delights as this Mk1 Vauxhall Astra?
This lovely, brown Talbot Avenger is one of just 260 left registered on UK roads. Manufactured by PSA Peugeot Citroen and registered in 1981, this Avenger would have been one of the last ever made.
Fans of performance cars weren’t entirely left out at the Festival of the Unexceptional. Arguably far from ‘unexceptional’, the Cavalier Calibre was based on the SRi 130 and featured a bodykit, sports suspension and exhaust designed by Irmscher. Limited to just 500 examples, it would have cost around £13,000 when new in 1988.
When did you last see a Fiat Uno looking as shiny as this? Registered in 1986, this first-generation Uno has covered an incredible 18,000 miles since new.
Also on display was the Uno’s predecessor, the 127. Launched in 1982, a year before the Uno, very few of the third-generation 127 are believed to have ever been sold in the UK. This one’s a Sport, too, for extra rarity.
With hydrolastic suspension and front-wheel drive, the Austin 1100 was far more advanced than its competitors, including the Vauxhall Viva HA and Ford Anglia (not to mention competition from within British Leyland, in the form of the Morris Minor).
Launched in 1983, this Y-reg Maestro will be one of the oldest examples left in existence. It looks to be in near-mint condition – but with just 40,000 miles on the clock, what would you expect?
We swear a field in Northamptonshire has never before been home to so many Talbots. This one’s a Solara, the saloon version of the Alpine. Although it outsold its hatchback brethren, the Solara wasn’t particularly successful in the UK – largely thanks to the success of the Vauxhall Cavalier and Ford Cortina.
While there’s no shortage of modified of hot Volkswagen Golfs around, this 1979 Mk1 is a relatively rare 50hp 1.1-litre. One of the first front-drive hatchbacks, the Golf was a huge success when it was first launched in 1974 – as it still is today. This car is owned by David Wilson and took second place overall.
There’s more than a hint of Mk1 Volkswagen Golf about the styling of the Talbot Horizon, although this 1970s French hatchback has never earned the same cult status. The Horizon was sold around the world with Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth badges.
Event sponsor Hagerty offered a prize for the best car in the car park – and this immaculate Renault 5 must have been a strong contender. We rather like the Clio Williams alongside it, too.
The Mk1 Fiesta was born in 1976, so Britain’s best-selling car ever celebrates its 40th birthday this year. This upmarket Ghia model has spotlamps, alloy wheels and plenty of chrome. Snazzy.
As its name suggests, the Austin/Morris Maxi was effectively a big brother for the Mini. Its design was innovative, with front-wheel drive, a hatchback tailgate and a folding rear seat, but – like many British cars of the era – it was hamstrung by poor build quality.
This Austin Paralanian has travelled just 50,000 miles in 52 years. It’s an interesting alternative to the default Volkswagen Camper – and cheaper and more spacious to boot.
Nothing says ‘unexceptional’ quite like an Austin Allegro. Especially in beige. Those original British Leyland mudflaps must be worth a fortune on eBay….
Mini Clubman Estate
The flat-fronted Mini Clubman has always lived in the shadow of the Issigonis original, but its kitsch styling gets more appealing with each passing year. This Estate model even has that most 1970s of accessories: fake wood trim.
The Hillman marque disappeared for good in 1976 – a pity as various iterations of the Minx had been sold since 1932. This is the estate version of the final Minx, built between 1967 and 1970. It won the People’s Choice award.
Renault 6 TL
The Renault 6 was an upmarket alternative to the iconic Renault 4. When launched in 1968, it boasted a whopping 34hp, although later versions had up to 50hp (steady now!). This post-1974 car is the facelifted model with square headlights.