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BXProject@ Rustival 2024

9 min read

The annual ‘kick-off’ for car show season seems to be between the Practical Classics show at the NEC in late March and ‘Drive it Day’ in late April. This year, however, things have been a little different, and by the first week of March, I was already off out. This year’s first show of the year for me was Rustival 2024!

March 9th 2024, saw the inaugural Rustival gathering hosted at the British Motor Museum. The show was organised and hosted by several British YouTube classic car celebrities. With tickets released in mid-January, I expected a reasonably quiet turnout, especially so early in the year. Fortunately, I don’t take the BX ‘off the road’ during the winter, so there wasn’t too much prep required.

Getting to Rustival

A chance conversation with a fellow long-suffering Citroen collector, and I had a couple of D’s to escort me down to Gaydon for the show. While the 6 a.m. service station meet-up felt rather painful for a weekend, what a fantastic way to travel. Although the BX looks rather clean, don’t be misled. Only the front bumper and one corner have actually been washed, and that was for the article on bumper trim!

The start of an early morning Citroen convoy to Rustival 2024
The start of an early morning Citroen convoy to Rustival 2024

Travelling in convoy did mean that the older Citroens gently paced my journey, but what a view I had from the rear of the pack. While I was aware the track on the D is narrower at the rear than the front, I had no idea what that might look like from behind. For the most part, it seems like the car is crabbing, with the rear wheels always trying to go sideways. I’m reassured this is a normal reaction for one not in the know!

Arriving in convoy at Rustival

Arriving at Rustival

The show’s tagline is ‘Clapped out to Concours, every vehicle is welcome’, which sums up the attendance. Everything imaginable, from a C25-derived amphibious house car-boat to a V8-powered Hyundai Stellar. The range of cars was fantastic, and I think the mix of vehicles my own Citroen BX 16Valve was parked with says a lot about the show. You’ll not often find a BX parked next to an immaculate Fiesta or a 90’s Volvo estate sandwiched between a couple of D’s.

Plenty of these juxtapositions could be found throughout the jam-packed lower showground. A 2CV6 in white with a green stripe roof soaking up the sun next to a Ford Puma Millennium edition—certainly not something you would see down at Aldi. A Volvo 340 in the standard baby blue next to a very pretty-looking Alfa Romeo Brera. These contrasts ran throughout the upper and lower show areas, an aspect of rustival I really enjoyed.

A plentiful supply of Citroens

Citroen was well represented at the Rustival gathering as a brand. Offerings of GS, Dyane, Visa, AX, Xantia, and 2CV were all in attendance. I must remind myself that Xsara Picasso, C5s and C6s are no longer ‘modern’ in most people’s eyes, and these, too, had joined the gathering.

I lost count of all the BXs I missed in the 1000 or so cars. Unfortunately, I didn’t see one late BX arrival, but I did see the owner. I think there were ten BXs present, but here is a selection of those I did snap.

Peugeots

It will come as no surprise that having grown up with a Citroen BX, I’ve always had a liking for Peugeots of a similar era. I’ve long thought that the 80s Peugeots were just about the peak of the Pug brand. They are a bit ‘safer’ in terms of design and mechanics than the Citroen counterparts, but they are solid, dependable cars. I’ve done a fair few passenger miles in several diesel estates. And a good number of head gaskets and timing belts!

With this Pug appreciation in mind, I’ve noticed a complete lack of 405s at car shows over the last few years. Despite searching high and low, I couldn’t find a single one at FotU’22. So imagine my delight when I found not one but two 405s at Rustival! Better still, a matching grandad (504) and daughter (406).

Rustival, about people, not cars!

I’ve jumped back and forth between describing Rustival as a show and a gathering, and for good reason! Aside from the 80’s and 90’s cars that had been brought along for me to remember the ‘good old days’, the event was less about vehicles and far more about the people. As my first show out for the year, catching up with many people from different car groups was fantastic. And I think that was the highlight of the gathering, the people rather than the cars. Enthusiasts that have a bond that extends way beyond a vehicle or a brand.

YouTube Live at Rustival
YouTube Live at Rustival

This joy of the car people was also seen on the event stage, where talks/interviews/discussions were held throughout the day. It’s almost like YouTube Live! And, of course, this meant we got to watch the country’s Aussie Ford expert on stage talking about the trials of running a small car business. Listening to a very open and honest discussion between Whiteland Restoration and our columnist, Richard, was fascinating.

Social Media Star Cars

Sticking with the ‘YouTube Live’ theme, seeing some of the Social Media star cars was great! I’m probably stretching the description. I follow a relatively small number of YouTubers and classic car social media personalities, so missed more than I recognised. I’d been so busy I hadn’t even realised there was a ‘WeirdCarTwitter‘ area until long after I’d arrived!

Other names (and faces I recognised) included AutoShinanigans from Secrets of the Motorway fame. That Richard bloke from UpNDown videos, UK’s Aussie Ford specialist. I also spotted the recently purchased VEP, which now lives with IndecisiveAuto. It’s a pretty easy spot, being in his own carpark. And a couple of cars belonging to Wrenching Wench. I really like this Scirocco. There were many more, including Whiteland Restorations unique Volvo, but I failed to snap all the cars. Many other people did though, check out YouTube for more!

Inside the Heritage Centre Collection

Entry to Rustival also gave access to the British Motor Museum. I won’t apologise for calling it the ‘Heritage’ despite not having been the centre’s name for over eight years. Having previously worked nearby, I’ve been visiting for a few decades but have yet to make it inside the ‘new’ collection centre.

A mix of Jaguar and Land Rover heritage vehicles, some of which I hadn’t seen for more than a decade. It was nice to see they were still accessible. I remember seeing a few of the Royal Fleet vehicles on my first visit to Solihull works. The L320 was still in use back then. The ‘Icon’ defender, in its plastic exterior, used to sit in the main museum. The ‘first’ L405 Range Rover, which I haven’t seen in the flesh since its launch in 2012. I last saw the ‘Bond’ Jag, which used to live at Hale Wood, in 2004. And the Silk Cut XJR used to sit at Coventry Transport Museum.

Is Rustival just a parts meet?

I usually identify an enthusiast’s gathering not by the cars in attendance but by the car part swapping that goes on! And Rustival was no different. From a set of metric BX alloy wheels appearing from the back seat of a BX 16 Valve to a peculiar chap walking around with a BX front-to-rear fuel line.

Yes, a BX rear quarter section will fit in a C6, but only just!
Yes, a BX rear quarter section will fit in a C6, but only just!

Nothing was more strange than walking through the entire showground with a BX rear quarter panel. We played a disappointingly short game of Tetris to get the panel into the boot of a waiting Citroen C6. My assumption that it would never fit in such a small boot was utterly wrong.

Summing Up Rustival 2024

What an absolutely fantastic event. The best corporate answer is low cost entry, with plenty to do and some brilliant guest speakers. But for me, it was the most relaxed car show I’ve been to in years. I must have caught up with more than thirty car friends, many of whom I’ve not seen for an embarrassingly long time.

Rustival is what so many shows have tried to be. Simple, relaxed, about the people as much as the cars. A vast and varied attendance with a venue offered more than cars on tarmac or in a field.

I which all shows where a bit more Rustival!

M


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2 Comments

  1. Yes a brilliant show in a perfect setting and nice to, briefly, say hello. I hope it continues in the same vein next year.

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