Sunday, October 27, 2013

British Car Festival 2013: One for the History Books

The twenty-third edition of the South Alabama British Car Club's British Car Festival was the most successful show in the history of the event. One hundred nineteen British cars, motorcycles and commercial conveyances hit the show field under skies that chambers of commerce the world over would almost kill for. Coming from as far away as Arlington, Texas, the participants brought an unequaled variety of classic and modern British-built vehicles. 
Triumph TRs

Kicking off the event, the traditional Friday evening welcome party brought both local and out of town participants together for a delicious barbeque meal with door prizes, announcements and a running slide show of past Festivals on the big screen.

Last year, the Friday welcome party officially outgrew its traditional venue of an old one-room schoolhouse that sits on the Faulkner State Community College campus in downtown Fairhope, Alabama - the site of the show field. This year the welcome party was moved to an adjacent building on the nearby Fairhope United Methodist Church campus. The spacious Christian Life Center gave us plenty of room to spread out and converse with our guests.

A Portion of the Field
The Friday Welcome committee volunteers went above and beyond the call with a beautifully decorated room and drop dead delicious food. Plates of smoked Boston butt along with traditional side dishes were served to the hungry crowd. And to top it off, the club's signature homemade desserts covered a table of their own. 

An Armstrong-Siddlely Star Sapphire
It was only reluctantly that the gathered British car enthusiasts dispersed to get a restful night's sleep (or continue the party) before the show the next day.

Your humble blogger left his faithful Mini in the Fairhope Municipal Parking Garage after the welcome party so a Saturday morning multi-car shuffle was unneeded. Arriving in downtown Fairhope Saturday morning in my trusty MGB along with my brother Alan in his MGB, we were greeted with an astounding array of British cars parked all over the small town. Some were checking out of hotels while others found convenient parking for a Southern breakfast at one of the restaurants in town. We were thrilled to see a light blue MGA roadster parked next to a papaya Mclaren MC4-12C next to a Damask red MGB on the village streets. We knew that the day was going to be special, indeed.
A Few of the Many TRs Present

Arriving at the South Lawn of the Faulkner State campus, we saw the SABCC parking committee decked out in high visibility vests with the club's logo stenciled on them. The registration committee thought well ahead and had two lines for the entrants- one for preregistered cars and one for those who wished to register that morning. We were issued with hospitality bags that contained an assortment of sponsor-related goodies such as pens, fliers, keychains and a package of peanut butter crackers to stave off hunger until the day's grilled lunch was ready for purchase.

The entrants were directed to a spot where a souvenir photo was made with several young ladies decked out in antebellum costumes as a background. The photos made would later serve as the basis of the personalized trophy provided to class winners. The entrants were then directed to their assigned row on the show field and parked in precisely the spot laid out by the parking committee.
A Triumph Roadster

The number of cars on the field continued to grow until the noon cutoff time was reached. A total of 119 cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles dotted the South Lawn site.

Fairhope merchants designated the day "Trick or Treat in Downtown Fairhope" so a large number of youngsters in Halloween costumes were seen roaming the site with parents in tow. It was a pleasure to chat with more than a few teenagers who asked questions  about the cars on the field. Some were surprisingly knowledgeable while others may have seen a Triumph for the first time.

Three of the Six Tigers Present
Mclaren MP4-12C
Speaking of Triumph, the show's theme was "Celebrating 60 Years of Triumph TR". The day was meant to showcase all things TR and the TRs came out in force. While there were no TR2s on the field, the event welcomed no fewer than three Triumph TR 250s - the rare, North America only model that was sold in the rest of the world as the TR 5. The TRs were rounded out by TR3s, TR4s, a bevy of TR6s and a TR7 and TR8. Triumph owners were provided with a special discount coupon that they could use to purchase a grilled dinner from the barbeque set up on the field. 

The food committee volunteers took care of everything from obtaining the trailer mounted grill to selling the meals and drinks to go with them. The tables set up for lunch were in use almost constantly. Announcements of the available lunch were unneeded as the aroma of the grill wafted over the area making mouths water. 

One of the many artists that call Fairhope home is Ron Thomson. Ron is a respected artist and art teacher and his work can be found in several galleries in the area. Ron set up his easel on the show field and completed a study of a TR3 during the day. Several show participants discussed commissions with Ron.  
MG Midget 1500

Shortly after 12 noon, the popular choice ballots were distributed and the voting began. Show entrants could be seen walking the lines of cars, ballot books in hand, voting for their favorites. 

A Few of the MGBs Registered
Once the balloting portion was closed, the ballots were counted while the show entrants moved their lawn chairs close to the headquarters tent for the best spot to view the awards ceremony. Announcements regarding future Gulf Coast British car shows were made prior to the awards presentation. 

The class winners were presented with a photo frame that will receive a placard with the winner's details and photo of the winning car by mail. Special awards such as the Chancellor's Choice, People's Choice and Ladies Choice were engraved plaques with the club's logo and award title. Special awards like Hard Luck and Long Distance were created in whimsical 3D trophies for the day.

As the sun began its descent in the western sky, the field began to clear with participants going home or spending another night in the arts village on Mobile Bay.

Events like this do not happen without much planning and hard work by many people. The South Alabama British Car Club is indeed fortunate to have so many enthusiastic volunteers that work so hard to bring an event like this into being. Nothing, absolutely nothing, came about without the efforts of those who unselfishly stepped forward and raised their hands. On behalf of those of us who enjoyed the day so very much - thank you for such a fine event. 

And to those who entered their fabulous British vehicles- thank you for participating. SABCC hopes to see you again soon.

All photos by Mason Blosser. More photos by Mason can be seen here.  Photos of the day by Robb Ogletree can be seen here. A complete list of class winners can be found here.


  1. Excellent article, thanks Rodney.

  2. Great was a great day and a great show! Thanks to everyone for participating and for the hard work in putting the show on.


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