Thursday 27 September 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – Hinckley Classic Show

If you have been following our blog recently, you will be aware that Oliver Winterbottom has been gearing-up to make an appearance at this year's Hinckley Classic Show. To say the event was a roaring success would be an understatement, and Oliver documented his time there, which we now share with you. 

Hinkley, Leicestershire, is a town dating from the earliest times and which was the centre of hosiery manufacturing until recently. As that industry shrank, Hinckley started to decline, but thanks to the efforts of the Business Improvement Development and a team of local volunteers, much is being done to reinvigorate the town. I am sure many would not expect it to have the remains of a medieval castle, a fine parish church standing in parkland, and a traditional Market Square (traditional, as all the Market Squares that I know, are triangular).

Thus it was that I arrived at Hinckley Market Square on the morning of 16 September. There were 800 plus vehicles also filling the town centre, all interesting. Two Lotus Elites graced the middle of the area, with the organisers' gazebo alongside. It was here I set-up to supply and sign my book, A Life in Car Design, to those that requested it. The Steward, Stuart Elliott had cleverly arranged them as the Elites were a past design of mine. It was Stuart who got me into this in the first place!

As my sister lives near Hinckley, I visit her and her local pub, The Heathcote Arms, Croft. Stuart and Sue Elliott also visit occasionally and earlier this year we discussed my presence at the Classic Motorshow. I agreed to bring some of my books, a pen and a cheery smile – not sure about that – and support this massive event. It is possibly the largest town Classic show in the country. In advance, I had contacted various clubs, and Stuart had landlady Hannah's permission to post a poster in the back bar. To the left, myself and poster in The Heathcote Arms.

Many folk assisted me being able to be ready. These included Emma and Kevin Atkins at my publishers Veloce, who not only supplied some books but also a large poster. 

Stuart organised my transport via an original Mini 1000, driven with enthusiasm by Rob Milne, an enthusiastic member of the Leicester Sturgess motor business. 

I had huge moral support from the members of the club, with Richard Wollaston bringing his Lotus Elite, resplendent with an emblem incorporating my signature. Embarrassed to proud – well a bit of both!

Another vehicle that was part of my past was the "wedge" TVR and I was happy that Andy Hutcheson ("andytank") had passed on details at the annual meeting, so we had one of those cars present. Unfortunately it was not possible to completely take over Hinckley, so they were parked down streets nearby.

The other members of my book title trio, Jaguar, were surprisingly short in supply. A red E-Type convertible was a couple of car spaces beyond the Lotuses. 

For me, what made the event so interesting was the diversity of the exhibits. They were not parked as a group but scattered around, so one went from say, a Ferrari, to a Triumph TR7 to an Austin 7 to a DeLorean. There were many forms of transport, the steam roller winning Special Vehicle of the show! Prizes were awarded for scooters, motorcycles, classic cars and commercial vehicles. There were pre-war and post-war machines, stock cars, modified saloons, American cars – you name it, it was probably there. As were an awful lot of people!

All the pubs and cafes were open and doing a roaring trade all day as literally thousands of people strolled the streets – all free of charge – enjoying the day. 

My pitch on Hinckley Market Square, alongside a lovely Lotus Elite

The two Lotuses, with the gazebo behind

A TVR 350i enjoying the double yellow lines in Regent Street

This beautiful Rover 3.5 litre Coupé was brought by Coventry Transport Museum

Not only did we have a DeLorean, but also an ex-senior executive of the marque present. The bar across the door opening was to prevent unwanted passengers entering!
This Ford Mustang dated from 1971 – they still look the same!

The two Lotus Elites had an Excel for company. There was also an Eclat elsewhere

Here I am being interviewed live on local radio

Sue and Stuart Elliott on the left, receiving a much deserved award in recognition of their efforts organising this wonderful event

We all retired to the Heathcote for a well deserved pint after a wonderful day. Hinckley hopefully will continue to thrive – it deserves to!

You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure to keep checking the Veloce blog for the next instalment of Winterbottom's diary!

Thursday 20 September 2018

Bye Bye Beetle!

Another iconic car is set to become a thing of the past, as it was announced last Thursday that Volkswagen are to stop producing the Beetle in 2019.

The move comes as Volkswagen plans to focus more on what consumers are looking for in a new car, such as electric cars and larger family-orientated vehicles. Although there are no plans to replace it, there is a 'Never Say Never' attitude towards it, just like when the company decided to unveil a revamped Volkswagen Bus last year. 

"The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle's many devoted fans." – Heinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group America.

Volkswagen will finish the run by adding a pair of Final Edition models – the Final Edition SE and the Final Edition SEL – to the line up, available in both coupé and convertible body styles. Along with colours such as Pure White, Deep Black Pearl and Platinum Grey, these models will feature two unique colours: Safari Uni, a reinvention of Harvest Moon Beige, a colour from the New Beetle, and Stonewashed Blue, which pays homage to the 1970 Jeans Bug, as well as being more recently seen on the 2016 Beetle Denim. Convertible Final Edition SEL models will be available in all colours (expect Safari Uni) with a unique Brown soft top.

A timely publication, Richard Copping's Volkswagen Beetle – A Celebration of the World's Most Popular Car charts every aspect of the original Beetle's lengthy history – from Porsche's design for Hitler to it's successful move to South America. Written by an enthusiast, this tome contains a wealth of archive imagery, including some rarely seen photographs of the Beetle across the decades. What better way to help commemorate the end of an era than with this excellent book.

The third generation Beetle is set to become a collector's item with this latest announcement. It really is a shame to be saying goodbye to such an iconic model.