Wind, rain and cool temperatures are unwelcome visitors for the organisers of, and attendees at, any outdoor motoring-related show.
Yet as people arrived in droves on the morning of Saturday 13th May for this year’s Spring Autojumble at Beaulieu, initially the sky darkened, there was a cool breeze and nature liberally sprinkled heavy raindrops over the motoring-stall-covered turf where thousands of classic car enthusiasts assemble each year. They come to seek out components for restoration projects, and/or to keep their classics on the road, and/or in many cases to acquire a ‘new’ old vehicle, to help satisfy their automotive interests.
For this event there were 1,200 stands, attracting a total of over 16,390 visitors over the weekend (1,655 up on the 2016 figure of 14,735).
Of course they come in even greater numbers in September for the ‘Main Event’ of the iconic, historic and simply huge ‘Beaulieu Autojumble’ (‘The original and still the best’), but many – like me – find the smaller Spring event, held in May, more manageable to see in depth (especially if they only have one day available to attend), and equally enjoyable.
Anyway, weather-wise, after the initial ‘tantrums’ mentioned above, the clouds scuttled off to cause havoc elsewhere, while at Beaulieu the sun came out and temperatures lifted through the morning, along with the spirits of all those in attendance. Indeed, together with many others I spoke too, I was aware of a very pleasant, happy atmosphere at this event, with stand-holders and attendees alike enjoying their time there.
As always at Beaulieu the stalls (over 1,000 in total) contained a wide variety of vehicle parts for sale at a wide variety of prices. This year, I was looking for some specific panels (a right-hand rear wing and rear ‘deck’ panel for my 1959 Austin A55 Cambridge Mark II, which in fact I didn’t find although I did come across a stallholder who had quite recently sold an example of the requisite wing…). However, although this time I came home empty-handed in this respect, I enjoyed the ‘chase’ through the stands in search of these panels.
I had more luck in seeking out some specific components for a 1959 Rootes Group car owned by a friend in France, and in the process made the acquaintance of several enthusiasts who told me that they may be able to help further. This was all very pleasant, and underlines the social nature of the Beaulieu events, which always represent opportunities for like-minded enthusiasts to meet up and talk ‘old cars’, often helping each other in the process!
There were some rare and reasonably-priced parts for sale, including a number of chromed bumpers for various models, from about £10 upwards for good examples. I also espied a Singer Vogue rear wing, on offer for £135 (and which sold), plus many unused wings, doors, sills and other body panels – both ‘original equipment’ and ‘reproduction’ types.
I spotted several front and rear wings (‘mudguards’) on sale for a number of different pre-War models (ideal if you need one for a specific model, and especially great if you find it – in my experience Beaulieu is a good place to start looking!).
I also noted the presence of many more engines and gearboxes than usual, for all sorts of vehicles from pre-War models to cars of the 1990s.
Cars for Sale
Among those catching my attention were a smart-looking and now rare 1964 Austin Gipsy offered at £6,950, a tidy-in-appearance 1965 Hillman Husky three door estate car (£3,850), a pristine, 70,000 mile Peugeot 205 five door (£1,850), and a very tidy Ford Escort Mark I 1300E (with a price tag reading £16,800!!).
However, for me one of the most enticing vehicles available there was a 1965 Humber Sceptre, looking very attractive in metallic blue and with just 63,700 miles behind it.
On each of several recent years the enthusiastic and highly active Dorset Group of the Morris Minor Owners’ Club has put on an excellent display at Beaulieu’s Spring Autojumble event, and this year proved to be no exception.
‘Moggyfest’ brought together a huge number of Morris Minors/1000s, but also attracted a number of other makes and models too, adding up to a wonderful line-up of practical classic machinery of all types.
In total there were 165 vehicles on display, including 45 under the ‘Pride of Ownership’ heading, 11 in the ‘Concours’ section and one ‘Grand Masters’ car, which was a truly beautiful example of a Morris Minor ‘Million’.
It is difficult to choose ‘favourites’ from such a splendid collection, but many of the Minors were in impeccable condition, and of the ‘non-Minors’, I was especially attracted to a very original and tidy Morris Eight two door saloon (in fact this was for sale at £8,995), and the Ford Zephyr Mark II that has been owned by John Shearing for 53 years! This car was bought by John as ‘the’ family car in the early 1960s, and its wonderful condition is testament to his dedicated maintenance of the vehicle ever since. It is still very much ‘used and enjoyed’ today.
A number of clubs and societies with historic automotive connections are in attendance each year at the Spring Autojumble. Among others, this year I had a chat with representatives from the Association of Singer Car Owners, the Austin A30/A35 Owners’ Club, and the Retro Caravan Club, with their fascinating display showing “Caravanning Through Time”.
I also spent some time at the stand of the Battery Vehicle Society. This has been in existence for many years, catering for battery-powered electric vehicles, and when the organisation was formed, many of its members built their own electrically-operated vehicles.
Other clubs in attendance included the Classic Hearse Register and the Wessex Vehicle Preservation Club.
Trunk Traders, Land Rover Rummage and Walkabout Auction
On the Sunday of the event, two additional aspects were the ‘Trunk Traders’ section (with individuals bringing along car boots full of goodies for sale) and ‘Land Rover Rummage’ (it does what it says on the tin!).
Towards the end of the show, the ‘Walkabout Auction’ helped to sell many more items.
Best Stand Trophy
…and the winner was… Andy Jennings of MG Spares. The tropy was donated by Lolly Lee in memory of her father, autojumbler Terry Lee, and was presented to Andy by Lord Montagu. Andy’s stand was judged to represent the epitome of the Spring Autojumble.
He was also presented with a gift hamper from Ringwood Brewery (show sponsor – they also brought along their superb 1950s Bedford lorry) by Danny Hopkins, Editor of ‘Practical Classics’ magazine (media sponsors of the event).
At the end of my day at Beaulieu I went home happy, having acquired a few spares and having enjoyed many conversations with like-minded fellow enthusiasts; I find that this is always inspiring and encouraging, for me to get on with various project vehicles!
This year’s (2017) Beaulieu Autojumble, with over 2,000 stalls and 200 cars for sale expected, will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 2nd and 3rd September.
At the time of writing (mid-May 2017), the scheduled dates for next year’s (2018) Spring Autojumble have yet to be announced.