I’m not imagining this, am I? There actually are way more classic and enthusiast car meet-ups than there used to be, right?
The other weekend, I was at one of the excellent Sunday Scrambles at Bicester Heritage, where there’ll have been another big meet by the time you read this, at least one other new midweek classic meeting locally and a huge Japanese car show at Silverstone, while places like Caffeine & Machine are open all the time.
The south midlands is pretty motor and motorsport central, it’s true, but still, I hear about classic shows and meetings everywhere. There are more, I’m sure of it. What used to be the odd Wednesday bike night at an A-road layby café is a burgeoning cottage industry throughout the country. I’m amazed there are enough surviving Citroën H vans from which to serve coffee at all of them.
I’m curious as to why there are so many, though. It’s said that people like buying experiences more than they like buying ‘things’, so there’s an element of that. Perhaps social media is making it easier for us to find each other, and across brands rather than, as used to be the norm, through single-marque car clubs – and somebody with a slammed Triumph Acclaim with a limited-slip differential might have more to talk about with a Nissan 200SX owner than a TR2 owner, after all. Or is it harder to just find space and time to have an enjoyable drive, so we might as well arrange an event at the end of it, to make it worthwhile?
Whatever, I’m pleased. Pleased there are places to be, cars to pore over, owners to talk to, and cars that get driven.
And I’m pleased there’s evidence that loads of people, regardless of what cars and driving become, see the car as far more than a way of getting from one place to another. Like horses, baking, or myriad other things, they’re something we don’t need to spend time with, but want to.
That said, I met a new bloke the other day when he made what’ll become a semi-regular visit to my house for the glamorous task of emptying the septic tank.
It’s an unusual procedure over which to make small talk, between bouts of peering into a 20ft hole in the ground. I’ve seen more attractive holes in the ground, I can tell you. But there we were, when I noticed a car company logo on his hi-viz jacket. Car fan, I asked? Kind of, he said.
While his truck’s vacuum busily whirred in the background, he explained he used to work for said car company’s Formula 1 team, and before and after that other F1 and sports car teams, travelling the world, flying away for all the races, to all the cities, gathering stamps in his passport.