The yellow car convoy says a lot about our motoring freedom


FIRST they came – to badly misquote Martin Niemöller – for the owners of yellow Vauxhall Corsas.

But car lovers across the country did speak out, by effectively telling aggrieved residents of the Cotswold village of Bilbury to get stuffed. You might have read about Peter Maddox, the 84-year-old man whose brightly hued supermini was vandalised by people who objected to it being parked in the picturesque village.

So owners of yellow cars from across the UK are responding by organising an entire convoy to pay the villagers a visit later this spring. As long as it’s all above board – and the organisers are in talks with the local council to make sure it is – I completely support it.

This from someone who hates the Vauxhall Corsa. But I hate curtain-twitching, NIMBY-ist busybodies who resent car enthusiasts lawfully enjoying their hobby even more.

If someone doesn’t like a yellow Corsa I respect their right to poke fun at it, but to scratch someone’s pride and joy, smash its windows in and scrawl the word ‘MOVE’ on it is completely beyond the pale. It’s as though someone watched the hit film Hot Fuzz, where resentful locals forcefully kill or remove anything or anyone that ruins their chances of winning the Best Village award, and thought it was a documentary.

It’s the same with people who write to the council because they object to their neighbour having a partially restored Triumph Spitfire on their driveway or those who take racetracks to court for being a bit noisy, even when the circuit was there long before their house was. Objecting so strongly to someone’s choice of car – and what they do with it, as long as it’s legal – is absurd.

I’d hate to think people who read about Peter’s car and thought ‘Oh, good’ aren’t emboldened by it, because they’ll move on to green Chrysler PT Cruisers and lowered Audi A3s next. Then it’ll be those Toyota MR2s that have been body-kitted to look like Ferrari F355s, followed by people who drive Range Rover Sports and BMW X5s with oversized alloys. Owners of Nissan Jukes, even in completely standard form, should be looking worried by this point.

Then they’ll come for the owners of MGB GTs with slightly flaky paintwork. Only they won’t, because car fans are letting them know now that it’s a ridiculous idea. I may not agree with your yellow Vauxhall Corsa, but I’ll defend to the death your right to drive it.

Originally published in The Champion newspaper on 15 February, 2017

Why the Goodwood Revival needs to heard north


DEAR Lord March,

I very much enjoyed your nostalgia-tinged car show on the outskirts of Chichester last weekend. I suspect just about every other petrolhead from across Europe did too, given the size of the traffic jams on the way in and the fact the 3,500 classic cars eventgoers brought along made what’s effectively a visitor car park bigger than most classic car shows in its own right.

The Goodwood Revival is a motoring event quite unlike any other. Nowhere else has the same near-obsessive attention to detail – everything from the cars and bikes to the shops and costumes has to fit in with the idea you’ve somewhere stepped back in time to 1966. Nothing else has quite the same scale of ambition too. You might think squeezing the cream of the world’s touring car talent, Le Mans winners and David Coulthard into identical Austin A35s for a race sounds a bit far-fetched. But it isn’t. Last weekend the sort of race you’d dream up six pints into a night out actually happened.

But there is one real problem with the Goodwood Revival. It’s miles away, and nothing in the North even comes close.

The Cholmondeley Pageant of Power – sorry, Cholmondeley Power and Speed – is a noisy step in the right direction but it doesn’t have quite the same atmosphere or scale as the Revival. An event I went to over in Scarborough last year, the East Coast Classic, nailed the motorsport pedigree bit by bringing classic cars to an old street racing circuit but lacked the sort of ruthlessly efficient timetable that makes the Revival’s every-other-minute thrills so beautifully coordinated. The closest thing I can think of is the Oulton Park Gold Cup, which is brilliant and very well attended but lacks Goodwood’s sense of theatre.

What you need to do, M’Lord, is venture up here and bring a little Revival sparkle to the North West.

Happily we’ve just the venue too; Aintree. We already hold a small race meet there called the Grand National but it’s also the place where Sir Stirling Moss won his first British Grand Prix. It’s steeped in motor racing history, and thanks to all the horse racing fans it has proper grandstands and facilities too. I think you can see where I’m going with this one.

Just imagine how brilliant it would be if you could have some Team Lotus F1 cars or Jaguar C-types belting around the circuit in its full, three-mile glory. You could insist everyone dressed up in 1960s costume too, and have vintage aircraft circling overhead. There’s so much potential for a Goodwood of the North – and we have the perfect place for it, right here.

You know you want to – and if it all goes wrong, just say that bloke from The Champion put you up to it.



Classic cars pack into Southport pub for new meet


ADMITTEDLY the car park behind The Arion pub in Ainsdale isn’t massive, but filling it with classics on a quiet weekday night at a new event is still quite an achievement.

Aintree Circuit Club – which is also behind the Ormskirk MotorFest – says the first of its monthly meets on Wednesday (7 September) was a big success, with 50 petrolheads from across Southport bringing their cars along. The turnout included three Jaguar E-types, six Minis, a Jensen Healey, an MG RV8 and two Austin-Healeys.


The next weekday meet takes place on 5 October from 6.30pm, and the first of the club’s Sunday morning meets – which also take place at The Arion – starts at 9am on 3 October.

Love classic cars? Then don’t miss this brilliant new event

Whatever your taste in classics it will be welcomed at The Arion.jpg

IF YOU love classic or performance cars you won’t want to miss a new car meet being launched in Southport next week.

The first of the Aintree At The Arion meets – following a successful trial last month – takes place at the Arion pub on Kenilworth Road in Ainsdale from 7pm on Wednesday, 7 September.

Organiser Aintree Circuit Club is also planning a weekend meet, starting in October.

The MotorFest is Ormskirk’s slice of petrolhead heaven


ROUGHLY 15,000 of you had to put up with my waffling over the weekend. This year’s Ormskirk MotorFest was a hit – but someone thought it was a good idea to let me into the commentary box!

That someone is Steve Berry, who still holds the record for the most northern person ever to present Top Gear. So for the bits of this year’s parades when you weren’t being deafened by BRISCA’s stock cars or applauding the bubble cars you were treated to me rambling on about classic cars while Steve flicked through the event notes, trying to work out who the Jensen Interceptors belonged to.

One thing we agreed on was how much West Lancashire’s day of petrolhead heaven has evolved since I first got the phone call from an Ormskirk councillor six long years ago, letting me know the powers-that-be were thinking of putting on a car show. 

What’s resulted since is one of the busiest days on Ormskirk’s calendar – and persuading all those people and their cash into West Lancashire has got to be a good thing. Folk who aren’t necessarily car geeks like you and me. The free-for-all format and the town centre location meant a lot of the showgoers I saw were young families learning about the joys of cars.

Take the Jaguar Mk2 that won the car category of the MotorFest’s concours last weekend – it might not be a Ferrari or an F1 racing car, but the fact the owner’s transformed it in the eight year’s he’s owned it from a box of bits and a rolling shell into a shimmering slice of Sixties nostalgia is genuinely inspiring stuff. Same goes for the 1906 Franklin Model E Runabout – at 110 years old it’s easily the oldest car that’s ever taken part in the MotorFest, but it still did the same parade laps as all the Subaru Imprezas and the Ferrari 458 Italia.

There are things that would make the MotorFest even better still – there are still too many long pauses between the parades, and I’d love to see the organisers take advantage of scheduled changes to the law to allow the event to have a more competitive element – but having an event that puts F1 cars, Aston Martins and race bikes onto Ormskirk’s one-way system is a real achievement.

Even if it involves having to listen to that chap from Classic Car Weekly who does The Champion’s motoring column rambling on over the loudspeakers. Sorry about that.

Ormskirk MotorFest 2016 – in pictures

IMG_2494MASSIVELY enjoyed this weekend’s Ormskirk MotorFest – and so did you, if the number of petrolheads lining the Lancashire market town’s streets was anything to go by.

There’ll be more on this year’s event in this Wednesday’s edition of The Champion and in Classic Car Weekly, but for now here are few snaps from the classic car parades around the one-way system:







Keep an eye on Life On Cars later this week for a full report on the 2016 Ormskirk MotorFest.


Forget Pokemon Go – why can’t we collect supercars instead?

The technology behind Pokemon Go could be used to encourage a new generation of supercar spotters

THERE are – I’m reliably informed – six Pokéstops within easy reach of Southport’s seafront.

Apparently Pikachus and Jigglypuffs are everywhere and more popular than a video of Taylor Swift counting down the internet’s top ten amusing cat videos. You thought the motoring column in The Champion would be a good place to get away from Pokémon Go, didn’t you? Sadly not, because it has not one but two motoring-related applications.

The first is that the police in Sefton and West Lancashire really ought to be strongly encouraging more people to go out and play Pokémon Go, because it’s more effective at curbing your speed than any yellow flashing box of misery ever will be. My other half is obsessed with the app and uses every outing to up her Pokémon stash, but in order to fool the game into thinking you’re merely Usain Bolt on an evening jog rather than a pair of cheats in a car you realistically can’t do any more than 35mph. All of which means everyone else is either stuck behind at 30-ish or too busy playing the game themselves (from the passenger seat, obviously) to care.

Really all of the region’s three million 20mph zones ought to be festooned with Pokéstops and the dual carriageways stripped of them altogether, in some brilliant bid to control everyone’s speed without them noticing. 

But the even better news – and I hope there are some budding game developers reading this week – is that the thinking behind Pokémon Go clearly has a petrolhead application. Stick with me on this one, because it could make an entire generation interested in cars again.

It’s a little known fact that the Automatic Numberplate Recognition system beloved of the police and paranoid petrol station operators can be harnessed as a mobile phone app. As a result it’s entirely plausible could make a game where kids collect fast cars rather than weirdly shaped Nineties dinosaurs – and then race ‘em against their mates later on.

It’d encourage kids to get into great cars early – use the game to go hunting at your nearest supermarket and might end up with nothing more than a 12-reg Focus, but make the effort of going to a car show and your phone might zap a Jaguar XJ220 and a Ferrari F40 in the same day. Think of it as Gran Turismo Go and you’ve got the idea; only with Porsches rather than Pikachus as the prize catches.

Obviously, I’ll expect millions of pounds in royalties when the game’s inevitably launched later this year. Just remember, you read it here first…

Take your pride and joy to the Mawdeseley Classic Car Show

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CLASSIC CAR owners are across Sefton and West Lancashire are being encouraged to enter their vehicles into a show in the Lancashire village Mawdesley on May 30.

So far more than 50 cars have been entered into the event at the cricket club, which takes place between 1pm and 4pm, and there’s also a road run in the morning.

The Car Show is free to enter but space is limited and places will be allocated to the first 90 cars that register. There will be a £10 charge to those entering the morning run to cover the costs of providing prizes and the rally plaques. Visitors to the event will be charged £2 each, or 50p for those under 16s, on entry. All those arriving in a classic car, including passengers, will be given free entry.


For more information go to Mawdesley Cricket Club’s website.

This is every other classic car show you’ve ever been to

07082011734HUNDREDS of cars from yesteryear will be gathering in the grounds of a stately home this weekend for a two-day show.

The event will feature roughly the same cars as it’s done for the last four years, with highlights once again including displays from the Whimsley Boxed Ferret Owners’ Club, the Morris Dancers’ Register and the Lumley District Classic Vehicle Club. The Raspberry Hornet Owners’ Club and the Raspberry Hornet Driver’s Club will also be taking part, albeit at opposite ends of the show venue due to the animosity between the two clubs since their respective founders’ divorce was settled in court.

There’s plenty for human beings to enjoy too, with live falconry displays, a tombola, a competition to correctly guess the number of marbles in a jar and a stall selling cheeses at this year’s event. Don’t forget there’ll also be a catering van cooking burgers for £5.50 each and a hog roast, both of which will have fairly sizeable queues and 30 circling wasps to keep you entertained.

It’s one of the highlights of the year for the stately home in question, which you can also tour for another £18 on top of the show’s entry price.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our website too, where you’ll be able to learn when the show’s been cancelled due to the ground being a bit too soggy.

Why grass and classic cars don’t mix

grassy eventFACEBOOK is a wonderful thing sometimes. Everyone had asked me whether I’d be taking my MGB over to the Leisure Lakes this weekend – but if I hadn’t checked the other night I’d have taken it to a postponed show in a waterlogged field.

No harm done; I stuck the show’s new dates in my diary and pointed the MGB’s nose up the M6 instead, and had a top day out at the Lakeland Motor Museum’s classic car gathering. Spare a thought though for the poor souls – and I know some of them came from right here in the North West – who headed off to Birmingham for an event called Pride of Longbridge.

It’s a brilliant event where you can see Austins, Rovers and so on in their thousands, but a combination of torrential weather the night before and a local authority rightly worried about ‘elf ‘n’ safety meant the park was out of the question. All this about three hours before the show was due to open. Months of hard work quite literally got washed away overnight.

The last thing I want to do is turn Life On Cars into a forum about global warming, but it’s the third time in the last 12 months I’ve encountered a car show that’s been canned due to the rain wreaking havoc the night before. In one instance the event was pulled just an hour before it was due to start – by which point I was already halfway down the M6. Nobody likes a show being shelved by the weather, but it does seem to be happening more often.

Blaming the show organisers clearly isn’t the answer – if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have all these brilliant events to take our cars to in the first place. Nope, I reckon the problem is right beneath us, it’s green and about three inches long.

Apologies if you’re a green-fingered type, but I’ll just come out with it. Grass is a rubbish material to hold events on.

For starters it makes every car show look the same. Whether you’re in Ormskirk or Inverness a field full of old cars is just that; a field full of old cars, with nothing to distinguish what part of the world you’re in. It’s also difficult to divvy up between all the various Triumph clubs taking part in an event without either spraying lines all over it or whacking wooden posts into it, and when you do it inevitably rains and then all your hard work is ruined.

Why aren’t we using town centres more? Ormskirk does a cracking job at drawing in shoppers with its MotorFest and I know Burscough Wharf’s hosted car displays to great effect – and if it rains on either, the show goes on. Why aren’t more empty car parks being freed up for car events? The costs and the public liability are the roughly the same – but you don’t get your shoes muddy.

It’s Britain, for goodness’ sake. We know it rains here every other day. Freddie Mercury was right when he said the show must go on – would he have cancelled because the grass was a bit soggy?