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New classic car festival to celebrate the... unexceptional

Published 24 April 2014

Hagerty, the classic car insurers, will host the inaugural Festival of the Unexceptional, a tribute to cars from 'an utterly undistinguished era' – the 1970s to mid-1980s - on 26 July at Whittlebury Park Golf Club in Towcester. The aim is to create a true festival vibe for the less-celebrated, but equally well-loved, classics that your parents used to drive...

It will be the country’s first ever 'Concours de l’Ordináire', a unique car show concept in the UK that showcases the best examples of some of the most mundane cars ever built. The Festival of the Unexceptional will be will run concurrently to an altogether more conventional car festival, the Silverstone Classic.

The organisers aim to attract a gathering of family cars, and are actively encouraging owners of classics such as the Austin Allegro, Alfa Romeo Alfasud and Morris Marina, to make the trek to Towcester, and show the classic car world that there's as much love for the average cars of yesterday, as there is for the more conventional exotica that usually gravitates towards such motoring festivals.

Angus Forsyth, Managing Director Hagerty International, said: 'There are no shortage of car shows and concours d’elégance that showcase the glorious examples of some of the best cars ever made. We love the traditional concours as much as the next classic car enthusiast, but we wanted to put a twist on the quintessential car show and celebrate the cars that are rarely celebrated.

'The Festival of the Unexceptional is meant to humorously highlight the serious attrition rate of cars produced in the 1970s-1980s. The paltry number of these cars either licensed or on Statutory Off-Road Notice is truly frightening. Remarkably, there are more Porsche 911s in daily use in the UK than there are Ford Sierras. The Unexceptional Era of roughly 1973-85 when you could have your car in any colour as long as it was beige, mustard or brown, when plaid seats, vinyl tops and bogus Rostyle wheels ruled.'

Hagerty is keen to see a wide variety of cars, and has compiled a top five 'built to last a lunchtime' motors from The Unexceptional Era:

1975-1984 Renault 30TS
Think of the Renault 30TS as the Austin Ambassador with a case of unmitigated Gaul. It was the first Renault to sport the soon-to-be ubiquitous Renault-Peugeot-Volvo Douvrain V6. Strangely, there doesn’t seem to be a single 30TS remaining on UK roads and while a small population of the 145,000 built remain in its native France, northwest of the Pas-de- Calais, the 30TS appears extinct.

1973-1982 Austin Allegro
Ah the poor Austin Allegro, it was seemingly the face of everything that was wrong with 1970s Britain. Just looking at an Allegro may inspire one’s retinas to go on. Time has been unusually cruel to the Allegro in terms of survivorship a tiny fraction of a total production of over 640,000 remained licensed.

1971-1980 Morris Marina
The Marina was a classic parts bin special and thousands have been broken for said bits. It soon mattered little with better quality Japanese cars and modern front-drive designs like the Fiat 128 and VW Golf coming to market, the Marina had no hope of competing. It stuck around amazingly until 1980. The Marina represents perhaps the greatest automotive disappearing act ever. A true testament to it unexceptionalism, of the 800,000+ sold in the UK, only 272 remain taxed.

1972-1989 Alfa Romeo Alfasud
The infamous Alfasud was the result of the Italian government’s desire to bring employment to chronically underemployed Southern Italy. Looking like an almost pretty Allegro, the Sud was a much more modern design. It mattered little as the car turned out to be as robust as a cannoli shell and it was said that one could stand next to one in a car park and listen to it rot in real time. The Alfasud is critically endangered in Britain.

1975-82 Triumph TR7
Along with the TVR Tasmin and Lotus Esprit, The TR7 formed the essential triumvirate of wedge-themed sports cars of the Unexceptional Era. The TR7 was arguably the least exceptional of them. To make matters worse, the combative workforce hated the TR7 and it showed in their output. Adding to the unexceptional nature of the car, it was available in no less than six different shades of beige or brown during its run.


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