We should be celebrating another successful Festival of the Unexceptional. Chatting about a Cavalier. Conversing about a Cortina. Babbling about a Bluebird.
Instead, we’re reflecting on another motoring event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic. But fear not, because the Festival of the Unexceptional will be back in July 2021. Which means you’ve got time to prepare an unexceptional car of your own.
While preparation for the world’s premier Concours d’Elegance could require a rather uncomfortable conversation with your bank manager, entry to the Concours de l’Ordinaire is a little more attainable. Not that finding the right car for you will be a straightforward task.
Some of the previous winners are almost extinct. Nissan Cherry Europe, Morris Marina pick-up and Chrysler Alpine are just some of the rare, if not exotic, overall winners of the event.
So, if you fancy finding an unexceptional motor of your own, how do you prepare for the unexceptional motoring event of the year? Some advice from one of the judges would be a start. Here, we’ve summarised the top tips from Sam Skelton, who has been a Festival of the Unexceptional judge since its inception.
- The judges love a good story
- A heart-warming tale behind the car will always score well with the judges. Did it come into your possession in an unusual manner? Does it hold a special personal meaning?
- Shop locally
- Buying a car from a shop window, the small ads in your local paper or a post-it note on the back window is preferable to turning up at a classic car dealer armed with a huge stash of cash.
- Work your connection to the car
- Buying and preparing a mint condition car isn’t enough. That’s too easy. Buying a car with deep personal significance – that’s the key. Were you driven home from hospital in the car as a baby? Did it belong to your grandmother. That kind of thing.
- ‘Boggo’ spec is better
- Forget Ghia, Diplomat and Baccara – the Festival of the Unexceptional is where base-spec reigns supreme. The judges love the cars the sales people didn’t want you to buy.
- Avoid modifications
- Standard is best. Alternatively, period accessories are fair game, but don’t overdo it.
- What to wear?
- On the subject of accessories, you should consider turning up wearing the fashion of the day. Avoid the barbecue if you’re donning a ‘fantastic’ shell suit. Maybe you could arrive with a period picnic hamper, complete with food that was best before a date in 1988.
- It’s concours with a difference
- Wash, polish and wax your car, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Sam says rarity and the story behind the car are more important than shiny exhaust pips, clean tyre treads or perfect engine bays.
- The judges can be bribed
- As Sam explains here, it is possible to bribe the judges…
All being well, next year will be filled with motoring events of all shapes and sizes. The 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional has been written on Retro Motor’s calendar using a pink highlighter pen from the 1980s. We can’t wait.