This year’s Beaulieu International Autojumble went ahead and those attending seemed very happy to be there.
Kim Henson reports…
(Words by, and copyright, Kim Henson; photographs by, and copyright, Kim Henson and Chris Adamson, as individually credited).
Many classic vehicle enthusiasts were looking forward to the 2022 International Autojumble at Beaulieu, the 55th event (sponsored again by ‘Practical Classics’ magazine).
It was very sad that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth passed away two days before the Autojumble opened (on Saturday 10th September), but of course many exhibitors were already on their way to Beaulieu as the news of her death was announced on the evening of Thursday 8th. I felt that great respect was shown in recognition of Her Majesty’s passing and her long life of service to our country, by Beaulieu staff, exhibitors and attendees, across the fields of stalls.
After much rain on Friday 9th September, Saturday 10th dawned bright and sunny, and as the aisles between the stalls filled with people, there was an air of optimism evident about the showground. Indeed sunshine predominated throughout the weekend – and all those I spoke too were very happy to be out and about in the fresh air at Beaulieu once again.
This year is an important celebratory one for Beaulieu, as it represents 70 years since the current Lord Montagu’s father opened up Palace House as a motor museum. By coincidence of course Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s reign also spanned the same seven decades that the Beaulieu Motor Museums have so far covered.
Importantly too, it is half a century since the then new National Motor Museum opened its doors, in the summer of 1972.
It was six years later, in September 1978, that I first attended a ‘Beaulieu International Autojumble’, and I have been pleased to visit the event every year since then (apart from the Covid-enforced closure year of 2020).
How was this year’s event?
While ultimately there were fewer stalls than in pre-Covid days, it was clear that once again some exhibitors and visitors had made the trip from overseas to be at this, the biggest such event this side of the Atlantic. In my tour of the stalls I identified talk in French, Dutch and German, as well as some American and Irish accents; all these were noticeably absent at last year’s event.
To me this year’s Autojumble felt far more ‘normal’ than the 2021 event, which had been the first to be held for two years and at a time when Covid worries and restrictions were still in evidence.
Sometimes when I attend the ‘Beaulieu’ I have a long list of spares to acquire for a specific project (and on such occasions I have often succeeded in finding rare items that are required). However this year I had no such list and was happy just to look at what was on offer. Would I actually buy anything this time?
My wife and I started our Autojumble meander by visiting ‘Yellow’ Field, which despite containing fewer stalls than hitherto, had some fascinating items on offer, for me at least. These included a pair of sill panels for my Austin A55 project car (admittedly these are not original BMC panels, but they are good reproduction items and will help my car get back on the road). I was delighted to find these within a few minutes of entering the show, and I brought them home (after paying for them!) to await installation.
We next ventured into ‘Red’ Field, where again within a few minutes I found myself making what I consider to be two very useful purchases. On the stall of Bob Glenister (who used to run ‘Available Austins’) there were many items for pre-war Austin models, and among them I spotted some used but good original bumper bolts of the type used on my 1938 Austin Big Seven. In addition, I espied a twin diameter stud extractor tool, unused and with its original label intact. This cheered me greatly and I bought the bumper bolts and the extractor tool, which I know will help me with my various projects.
Bob, who was helped during the weekend by his son Chris, told us that he had been running his stall for 45 years on the same site in Red Field, and without fail they always enjoyed Beaulieu Autojumble.
I should mention that at the eastern end of Red Field, I also noted a multitude of body panels – mainly originals plus some ‘aftermarket’ reproduction items – for Ford Escorts and early Cortinas, BL Ambassador and Princess models, Hillman Minx and Super Minx, plus classic Vauxhalls, among many others. Of particular note I espied a pristine bumper for a Mark II Escort, labelled as ‘new’ and offered for £45. Shame I haven’t got a Mark II Escort to which I could fit it…
We carried on our tour of Red Field, before taking a look at Green Field too, and before long I seem to have acquired a set of wheel trims for my 1959 A55 Cambridge, plus a set of anti-roll bar links with the requisite rubber bushes, for my 1964 A60. Significantly too, I acquired several rear hub gaskets for our family’s A30/A35 models.
In fact I found several stalls this year selling spares for Austin Cambridges (especially relevant to my cars), and spotted some rare new components, including unused brake backplates, front suspension components and panels including ‘new’ doors, plus a front panel for the pre-Farina models. I didn’t buy all of these…
I should mention that in addition to the specific marque-related components on offer, as always there were stalls selling upholstery materials, advertising signs, workshop manuals, vehicle brochures and photographs; you name it… Plus stands representing a wide variety of classic car clubs, among them the Morgan Sports Car Club, Austin Ten Drivers’ Club, Austin A30/A35 Owners’ Club and the Standard Motor Club.
Here are a few photographs of stalls which took the eye of my colleague Chris Adamson…
More than just spares…
It is always interesting to me to look at the complete vehicles on offer, including the ‘Motormart’ vehicles for sale, plus, this year, a wide selection of cars and commercials in a wide array of conditions, for sale in the ‘Bonhams’ auction. I always take a look too at the cars and parts listed for sale on the large noticeboard in Red Field…
My colleague Chris Adamson took a selection of photographs (please see below), covering examples of all sorts of vehicles on offer at Beaulieu, at a wide range of prices.
I’ll start his round-up with vehicles entered into the Bonhams auction…
Personally, among the Bonhams auction offerings, I would like to have come home with the ‘National Benzole’ Austin petrol tanker, and I was also very taken with the unrestored pre-War Rovers, also a Riley ‘woodie’ estate car.
The photographs below, also all by Chris Adamson, show some of the cars offered in the Automart…
In the Automart, favourites of mine included a very tidy looking four door Austin A30 (with an asking price of just under £5,000, which seemed very fair to me) and two Austin Seven saloons from the 1930s, including the 1934 Box Saloon photographed by Chris, and also ‘sensibly’ priced in my view.
‘Dealermart’ displays this year included those from several classic car dealers, and of particular interest to me were the ‘Classic Additions’ car covers stall, and the impressive show stand of Garners Wheelrights.
On the Sunday of the show, the popular ‘Trunk Traders’ was in operation, in which people were able to bring along and sell motoring-related items from their car boots.
It was good to see a wide variety of ‘everyday’ 1950s vehicles in the ‘Nifty Fifties’ section of the show (please see photograph below), for which owners of 1950s cars could bring them along to take part. Among these were a Morris Oxford MO that had been brought along from Belgium to attend, an Austin A40 Somerset, a Sunbeam Talbot, a Wolseley 1500 and several Morris Minors.
Winner of The Best Stand Award, presented to the stallholder whose pitch was thought to truly capture the spirit of the event, was chosen by ‘Practical Classics’ editor Danny Hopkins as Jon Rowsell.
The Award trophy was donated by Lolly Lee in memory of her late father, autojumbler Terry Lee.
This was only Jon Rowsell’s second Beaulieu; dressed in a vintage blazer he cheered showgoers with his amusing and honest sales patter, selling his variety of items which included an aeroplane propeller, toy cars and retro uniforms, among a multitude of other items.
Jon was presented with the award by Lord Montagu and Danny Hopkins.
It is taking time for things generally to settle in the ‘new world’ after Covid, and the autojumble scene is no exception. Some overseas visitors are still finding post-Brexit ‘red tape’ to be a challenge, and some people, at home and abroad, are still being very cautious about attending large events with many other people there.
From my perspective, I was pleased to be at Beaulieu once again, to tour the stalls, chat with friends and acquaintances and just soak up the atmosphere. Oh, and of course, to buy some parts for my various vehicles – I was pleased to acquire some components that I didn’t realise I needed, until I saw them!
Beaulieu tells us that more than 26,000 visitors attended the Autojumble this year.
To keep up to date with forthcoming events at Beaulieu, please check frequently at: https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/
Two early highlights will be Simply BMW this coming 18th September 2022, Simply British Classics, on 25th September, and Simply Smart, on 13th November.