This July sees the first car show of the year for me. And the first in quite a while. Having failed miserably to get to the same event in 2019 due to a wiring issue, I was optimistic this year. Although it’s the first time in the last covid 18 months that I’ve been anywhere, I have to admit to being overly excited. By the time I set off, I was somewhat unprepared in practically every way, but the trip was mostly a success.
Preparing for the car show
Given a week of over 30c ambient temperatures, it wasn’t really the weather for cleaning the car. But a break in the weather allowed me to give it a quick once over with a new cleaning system. The car is in desperate need of a polish, but the final result is not too bad at all.
Then the packing for the car show began, dragging the tent out of its very long term storage. Wrestling the air bed out of the bottom of a cupboard, the excitement was building. I knew I needed a run to the shops on the way, so packing food wasn’t a bit issue. I guess packing some cutlery to go with the plates and cups might have helped. And that was about it.
Of course, what I should have done is checked a few things. I’d have found the coolant level slightly low and maybe noticed the weep from the bleed nipple. Maybe noticed there was only a 1/4 tank of fuel and saved an eye-watering figure filling up on the motorway. But, nope, absolutely no essential checks were made. Partly because I’m out of practice, and partly because I’m using the car just about every day, what could go wrong?
The journey to the car show
The journey was going to be a long one. The round trip would be the longest I’ve taken in the BX for over a decade. At just over 150miles in each direction, I figured I would want to lie on the grass for a little while once I got to the show. At 3200rpm at motorway speeds, it’s a bit droney. Then as the BX has aged, it has become normal for people to race up next to the car to snap a picture or two. And with an ambient temperature still over 25c and no aircon, the journey would be a long hard drive.
Despite my worries, I really enjoyed the journey down to Cambridgeshire. The updated sound system took the edge off the droning. Utilising the standard 80s’ ‘windows open and drive faster’ method of maintaining cabin temperature was just fine. The temperature gauge was a little unnerving from time to time, but the high coolant temperatures were easily managed.
And of course, once we arrived, we were in some great company. The Citroen Car Club in the UK do a good job of holding a car show, a little quieter than I might like, but easy to find and well organised. And of course, it’s nice to be out chatting with some very old and less seen friends.
Camping for the first time in a long while
I have to admit, I felt like quite the amateur when the evening came, and the camping started. I’d remember the whole tent, which is fortunate as I didn’t have a lot of anything else complete. I had the airbed but no plugs. The duvet was packed, but no pillows. And we’d stopped off for groceries which seemed that all of them involved a spoon I didn’t have!
Despite all these things I’d forgotten to take to the car show, it was a great evening. Screwdrivers doubling as plugs for the air bed and the handle of a fork doubling as a spoon. It all came together. A brace of ‘fake’ beers and many hours of nattering later, and it was great to catch up with friends originally met at another car show.
Waking up at a car show
The weather forecast was for something biblical, but the precipitation stayed away despite a little rain overnight and some drizzle in the morning. And the cool morning was a relief from the previous week of very high temperatures. So a brief wander up to the site kitchen for a very well priced full breakfast was a great start to the day.
Within a few hours, cars were floating in at quite a rate. It always entertains me watching cars arrive at a show. Something akin to an ant nest that’s just been rained on. An awful lot of moving without anything much changing. The organisers did a good job of getting similar eras of cars together, though it looked a bit liked herding cats.
I can’t say I counted how many cars turned up, nor how many of any particular model might have been there. That’s just not my thing. I also much prefer a multi-brand show. I probably spent more time looking over a convertible Vauxhaul thing than any of the Citroens.
Car Show Celebrity
One of the show’s highlights was to catch up with the star of Up and Down videos on that YouTube. Okay, I’ve known the presenter for a very long time, so maybe overselling the celebrity status. But it was nice to finally see the BX back on the road (or field). This is the same chap that sold me XPO, not sure if he’s a sinner or a saint!
Of course, there were a few less well-known celebrities from the Citroen BX world, and it was great to catch up with the few I managed to find. In addition, I managed to pick up a few spare parts for XPO. I would have liked a few more sellers to find that elusive part, but the parts I have picked up will help the rebuild. Unfortunately, due to a terrible mistake some years earlier, we had to leave the show a little earlier than I might have liked to recover the children.
Returning home from the car show
With fewer stops and a generally open road, the return journey was a little quicker. And cooler. It’s the first time I’ve gone so far south, so it was nice to see signs for the North. Of course, it will be even nicer if they ever finish the road works on the M6, but that might be asking a lot!
And of course, by the time I get home, there’s another Up N Down video to watch!
The future of car shows?
Some writer over on Auto Car Online suggested this morning that classic car shows will die off. A list of possible death knells includes overpriced fuel and the general drive away from combustion engines. Also, the suggestion that burning fuel will have the negative connotations that smoking now does. Well, I can probably afford the fuel to run the car once a year. Steam engines still roll around. And people still smoke. But the short, number packed article seems to miss one thing.
For me, car shows are not even a little bit about cars. Please don’t tell too many people, but I don’t even like most Citroens! I like cars from the era I grew up, all kinds of crappy hatchbacks and rotten estates. The reason I keep going back to the single-car marque shows it to the people. The characters that make the car shows what they are. Be they fellow BX owners or wild-haired over-enthusiastic organisers. Catching up and talking, probably not about cars, with people you haven’t seen for years is priceless. Oh, and some of the camping antics are hilarious!
Talking about crappy 90’s cars at a show, I’ll be at Festival of the Unexceptional next weekend.