If you like taking a tyre-kicking walk through rows of old cars, it’s hard to beat some of the classics-on-the-common style events that take place through Britain’s summer.
Last week I went to an event in Harpenden, whose sunny town lawns hosted no less than 1200 classics beneath a sun that bordered on the sweltering.
There were two Iso Grifos, for instance, these Giugiaro-designed, Corvette-engined 1960s coupés among the most handsome of the decade, more handsome than the competing Lamborghini 400 GT that was also present.
There was a Vauxhall Monaro that had been rebodied as a two-door, befinned 1950s Vauxhall Cresta - an amazing piece of home-engineering - and a beautifully restored Vauxhall Chevanne. If you’re wondering what that is, it was a commercial version of the Griffin’s 1970s Chevette, and the cost of reconditioning it must massively outweigh its value.
And if you like Ferraris, there was a whole red cluster of them in one corner, including a concours F50, the prancing horse seemingly good enough to gain admission from moderns like the 599 GTB, which seems a bit partisan of the organisers.
But far rarer than your F50 was a car of which only one example remains, and I was lucky enough to see it looking resplendent in white on the day.
True, not everyone would count this sighting as lucky – "It’s sh*te, really," opined one (misguided) visitor – but I’ll admit at being delighted to see a 1980 Talbot Tagora gleaming on the grass.
This (very) short-lived Talbot was an executive car intended to take on the Ford Granada and Rover SD1 in the early 1980s. Development started before Talbot was bought by Peugeot, the subsequent takeover resulting in a large number of Peugeot mechanicals being incorporated, including a 505 back axle that was a bit too narrow for the Tagora’s rear end.
The Talbot’s odd, knife-sharp lines, a brand image ranging from unknown to undesired and its lack of advantage over the competition saw less than 20,000 built when Talbot’s forecasts had recklessly reckoned on annual sales of 60,000. After just two years, it was deleted.
Virtually all have been deleted from Britain’s roads too, there being none licensed on How Many Left? and a handful on SORN. The car you see in the picture above must have recently been relicensed for the summer.
What’s great about this unloved oddball is that it survives, and in terrific condition too. There’s little financial reward in preserving a car like this, unlike many Ferraris, but for me, classic car events are often made by the emergence of the offbeat, the rare and the unloved.