Car culture is dead, if you believe the doom-mongers out there. Driving’s now a chore rather than a pleasure, cars are too fast or too complicated or too boring for anyone to get excited about, and kids are too glued to their mobile phones to show a flicker of interest.
Evidently nobody told anyone in Hampton Village, a small suburb of south west London where I happen to live, and where the annual car show recently rolled out on our local green. It was packed - both with cars and people of all ages who flocked to see what was going on.
It’s a scene that will be out in force across the country for the so-called summer months, with cars of all shapes, sizes and ages being displayed, shown off by proud owners and ogled by eager car enthusiasts and passers-by alike. The passion and energy around every car show - big or small - that I go to is one of the many reasons that I believe the death of car culture has been very much exaggerated.
Some will say that classic cars are inherently more interesting than modern ones, and to a degree I understand that. I also believe, though, that today’s cars will become yesterday’s cars and be just as interesting to future generations as an old Alfa Romeo, Alvis or Citroën are today.
Given the Hampton show is precisely the width of a road from my front door, I try to find something interesting to display. Last year it was Autocar’s long-term test Ferrari FF, this year I went back to the 1960’s with a Citroën DS (strictly an ID19). Enthusiasm for both was pretty much equal, although the former won the wow factor and the latter the warm-feeling factor. Like many car shows, Hampton’s was divided into decades - and everything from the 1930s onwards was well represented.
Apologies for the selection of pictures above. I did my best, but I’m no snapper. Hopefully, they give a flavour of the event. As usual, I met people who had owned a car similar to the one I was displaying and/or knew more than me about said car. The depth and passion of car enthusiasts never ceases to amaze me. Likewise the hard work and enthusiasm of organisers of such events, whose passion spurs them on. Owning these cars is often a labour of love, but there wasn’t a person there who wasn’t proud of what they had and who wasn’t willing to share that with anybody and everybody.
All in, it was another terrific day, just as all the car shows up and down the country this summer will be. Car culture might be changing, but it’s not dying.