BEHOLD THE BLAND – Festival of the Unexceptional is a go!

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By Chris Pollitt

The world is starting to open up again, slowly. And that means we can start tentatively putting things in our diary. This is of course, great news. Classic cars are very much a social thing, and it’s been an achingly long time since were were last able to get together and enjoy our automotive passions as a group. With that in mind, we’re utterly delighted to see that the Festival of the Unexceptional presented by Hagerty – an event celebrating the classics more often than not, forgotten – is back. So grab your pencil and your calendar and scribble a reminder on Saturday the 31st of July 2021.

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The press release makes for brilliantly self-aware reading: “Hagerty invites owners of deliciously dull vehicles to nominate them for a space on the concours lawn at the 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional. If you own an Opel, maintain a Morris, fettle a Fiat, cherish a Chevette or run a Reliant this is your chance to show the world your beloved vehicle.” This show is not for the multi-millionaires, it’s not for the 250GTOs or the Porsche 911 2.7. Instead, it’s for the 205 1.1 five-doors, and the Proton 1.5s. It’s a celebration of the cars that have survived against the odds. Cars that have been forgotten, that have been ignored and that consequently, have been preserved by only the most dedicated of petrolheads. And if you think that sounds dull, it is not. This show is an assault on the memory bank. You see more cars here that fall into the ‘I can’t remember when I last saw one of those’ than you will on the grass of Hampton Court Palace.

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This isn’t a show for old knackers. It’s a show for beautifully preserved examples of motoring mediocrity. And trust us, you will go a bit weak at the knees when you see that metallic gold Montego 1.6, or that Fiat Croma with original hubcaps. It is a brilliant, fun, interesting day in which the often overlooked can instead be celebrated, enjoyed and fondly remembered. It is, quite literally, a car show like no other.

For the best of the best, there is the annual Concours de l’Ordinaire, which is open to classic cars, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles built between 1966 and 1996, but spaces on the coveted concours lawn are limited, and owners of eligible vehicles are encouraged to nominate their entry at the earliest opportunity. If you own a classic that may well tickle the judge’s respective pickles, you can enter it by visiting the website.

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Showcasing much maligned and long forgotten ‘ordinary’ classic cars and commercial vehicles of the late 1960s through the 70s, 80s and into the mid-90s, Festival of the Unexceptional remains the only concours that prefers a Dolomite to a Diablo, a Tagora over a Testarossa and where a Victor is preferable to a Vantage.

The chosen location for 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional is Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, offering expansive grounds to enjoy with lakeside walks, formal gardens, and a children’s play area, ensuring the 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional will be a great day out for all the family.

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2021 will also welcome improved show facilities with a wide range of food and beverage outlets, more display cars, comfortable seating areas, increased interaction, and entertainment as well as entertaining judging and award ceremonies.

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We will of course be there too. Our Editor is even threatening to bring his Rover 800 along. And you should be there too. Car shows are important, they’re fun and they are much, much needed tonic after the year that we have all had to endure. We’ll see you there. If you want to see what it’s all about, have a look at our report from 2019. Yes, that is indeed half an Alfa Romeo.

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