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Festival of the Unexceptional featuring Princess Diana's Metro

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700

Truly unexceptional - the Morris 1100

By Adam Binnie

Motor Shows

11 July 2014 14:07

Do you prefer the Midlands to Maranello? Would you rather have a tattered mauve interior to a hand-stitched leather one? If so, the Festival of the Unexceptional is the place for you.

The ‘Concours de l’Ordináire’ – a car show featuring a laundry-list of rattletraps from the 1960s to the 1980s, will take place in Towcester on 26 July 2014.

Hagerty Insurance, festival organiser, said the aim was to recognise the lasting impact that cars like the Morris Marina, Austin 1100 and Triumph TR-7 have had.

But there’s another reason to trade in your Italian exotic for a beige classic – exclusivity. Cars that were once sold in abundance, such as the Hillman Avenger, have long since succumbed to rust and left only a few cared-for examples behind.

According to We Love Any Car’s online counter, there are nearly four times as many Rolls-Royce Phantoms, supposedly the final word in refinement, registered in the UK as there are Austin Allegros.

Even rarer is a certain red Austin Mini-Metro (below), which will make its first public appearance for 20 years at the festival. Known as the ‘Courting Car’, legend has it that Prince Charles bought the 1980 Metro as a gift to Princess Diana.

It is the headliner in a list of 50 mundane motors from all over the country, including a Peel P50 from Beaulieu National Motor Museum. Husband and wife team Tanya and Jason Field will also show off their Austin Maestro and russet brown 1979 Mini Clubman Estate.

Angus Forsyth, Hagerty International’s managing director, said: ‘The cars on display at the event represent the engine room of British automotive design and manufacturing.

‘Along with other similar, non-British vehicles from the era, they are the much-loved trinkets that have brought more joy to their owners than could possibly have been predicted.

‘Our aim is to recognise the lasting impact that these cars have had and celebrate the contribution to the industry of the dedicated owners who have preserved them.’

Below is a list of cars due to appear at the show, and the number of models registered in the UK according to We Love Any Car's online counter, which uses data from the DVLA.

1. Ford Granada (1972-85) 1746 left – reasonably abundant.

2. Austin Allegro (1973-83) 161 left - rarer than a Rolls.

3. Morris Marina (1971-80) 251 left - driving this close to salt-water is wreckless.

4. Triumph TR-7 (1975-82) 642 left - unlikely that all of them are running...

5. Austin 1100 (1962-73) 359 left - including the one beaten up by John Cleese in Fawlty Towers.

6. Hillman Avenger and Hunter (1970-76)  290 left - the hunter becomes the hunted (by rust).

7. Vauxhall Viva (1963-79) 682 left - long live the Viva.

8. Austin Metro (1980-90) 604 left - including Princess Diana's.

9. Opel Manta (1970-88) 257 left - almost as rare as its aquatic namesake.

10. Alfa Romeo Alfasud (1972-89) 68 left - most of the originals have gone south.

Pictures supplied by Hagerty Insurance. The Festival of the Unexceptional is being held in Towcester on 26 July 2014. More information at the festival website.


By Adam Binnie