Eclectic New Year’s Honours and Smashed Records at January 1st Gathering

04 January 2016

The January Sales were practically non-existent for anyone within driving distance of the Museum on January 1st. Over 7,000 people visited during the day from as far and wide as Ormskirk in the North and Bournemouth in the South, with more than 1,500 classic vehicles making the annual pilgrimage.

The driving force of this unique event is inclusion: the beautiful, the ugly, the celebrated and the forgotten share equal billing at what is believed to be the UK’s largest January 1st classic gathering. And it isn’t hard to see why when you wander through row after row of family saloons, pre-War sports and touring cars, motorcycles, American hot rods and sixties icons all packed into the picturesque setting. Among the highlights were some heavy commercials like the ‘cabover’ Chevrolet truck in a striking art deco style, a 2.5ltr Riley drophead, and a very original Fiat 131 rally car recalling its heyday in the 1970s. Oddities ranged from a Citroen AMI6 with period Airstream-style caravan in tow, a pre-War Renault and an AEC WWI-era truck in combat finish. Fords were out in force with cherished examples of Cortinas, Capris, Anglias, Populars and Escorts. There was a flood of Porsche 928s and the Americana stretched from early pick-ups and Edwardians to Dodges and Buicks, a black and white Plymouth police car, Pontiac 500 and several Chevrolet trucks. Cars had to park ‘herringbone’ style three deep on the historic Banking to accommodate the flood of vehicles which also included a large contingent of motorcycles.

A Nash Metropolitan in two-tone raspberry and cream caused a stir as did a beautifully restored rare RHD Jaguar XK120 fixed head coupé in teal blue. Clubs represented included Rover P5 Owners, Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts, Porsche and Alvis Owners, and a gaggle of 1960s Minis from a number of clubs. Parked in front of the Avro Shed was a stunning Packard Eight in cream and brown that dwarfed the Sunbeam Alpine and Riley Elf either side of it. As part of the Alvis OC display on the Hangar apron one could see a 1927 1250 Alvista Saloon with a fabric body and a 12/60TK 2-seater sports Beetleback from 1931. On the Finishing Straight behind the Hangar, VW Camper Vans, a green Jensen Interceptor 3, Austin Healey 3000 MkIII from 1964 and a Rover 3500 happily shared the same concrete whilst the crowds peered inside, chatted and took pictures.

The swarms of eager visitors also filled all the exhibition areas to see the Museum’s own collections of classic racing cars, aircraft and motorcycles. The 4D Theatre and Concorde ran their respective virtual experiences and the café and barbeque outlets just about kept up with the demand for hot food and drinks. Blessed with a cold but dry and crisp climate, the day heralded a fantastic start to the Museum’s calendar of events that run throughout the year.

More photos of the New Year’s Day event can be found here

Andy Lambert’s footage of the event can be seen here