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The Festival of the Unexceptional

By raccars Published

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The average classic car is celebrated for its style, performance, luxury and long term value to automotive history. Many have been kept in immaculate condition or lovingly restored, but what about the mass production cars that formed the main population of British roads? For every one classic there were thousands of Escorts, Golfs and Vivas doing the school run or the supermarket trip, particularly in the Seventies and Eighties.

A new festival this month plans to celebrate these ordinary but much loved cars. The 'Festival of the Unexceptional' has been organised by classic car insurance firm, Hagerty, and will be held at Towcester's Whittlebury Park Golf Club on 26th July. The Silverstone Classic historic race meet will be taking place on the same weekend just a few miles down the road, for the cars more usually appreciated as classics.

The event is unique, trumpeting the best examples of ordinary but much loved cars of a certain age. While they were mass produced at one time, few top condition models remain - in fact there are half as many Austin Allegros on UK roads now as there are Ferrari 308 GTBs. Fifty of the best examples of this style of car will be picked by a panel of judges. Most entries are taking part by invitation but the public response to the event has been extremely enthusiastic, with all places taken a month in advance.

These models may not display the elegance or excellence in engineering of those habitually classed as classics but they do form an important part of Britain's automotive heritage. The likes of the Hillman Avenger, Ford Granada and Austin Maestro have earned a soft spot in many British hearts, bringing back memories of a very different time. Some of these will be out in force on 26th July.

Austin Allegro 1973-1983

The much maligned Allegro has come to represent a nadir in British car production but with 640,000 units made, it must have got something right... maybe not - only 161 Allegros are licensed to drive on UK roads today.

Morris Marina 1971-1980

The picture is even worse for the Marina, derived from the better loved Minor. Only 22 models are still on the road out of 800,000 sold.

Triumph TR7

Less pedestrian than some other offerings, the TR7's worthy attempt at sporty and stylish could have been a winner but was partly a victim of the industrial dissatisfaction of the era, partly of its own drab colour options - brown or beige were the only choices.

Entrance to the public is free of charge, nylon flares and kipper tie optional...

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