A sparkling summer afternoon and the Graphite Grease team are heading out to Classics at the Castle, a classic and vintage car show hosted at Sherborne castle in Dorset.
Surprise after surprise at this show, for a starters its stunningly sunny (not something all show organisers manage for some reason). A real English summer, where even the odd drop of rain is warm and only makes everything sparkle more brightly.
The second surprise is the sheer size of the show. After grabbing a hog roast bun and the obligatory cider we toddle off through three very large fields full of British classics, American muscle, unique vintage vehicles and some F1 cars of yesteryear, all set against the back drop of the imposing 16th century manor that is Sherborne castle. The sheer number and range of car clubs that are represented is a delight to see, everyone from the Healey owners club to the (slightly) more modern MX-5 owners club.
Pride of place in front of the house stand a handful of veteran giants including ‘Big Maude’ (with the first engine ever to have an overhead camshaft) and an array of classic sports and F1 cars.
Up the steps and along the terrace is the avenue of American cars, chrome glints from every angle and miles of bodywork sparkle in the sun. Mustangs and Chevy pick ups, Trans Ams and hot rods all brilliantly presented. I’ve realised that owning an American classic is quite a big commitment considering how long it must take to polish 5.2 meters of Pontiac GTO! I only wish they could have started them all up at once!
A brief but welcome rain shower serves to cool us as we meander through the stalls and craft tents, managing to resist the Fudges and cakes. I even restrain myself from buying anything at the autojumble. Doesn’t stop me looking though!
Laughter and chatter draws us on and into the middle of the various owners clubs where polite admiration for the neighbours car quickly turns into a good poke around as bonnets are raised and modifications are compared. A fleet of ‘shammy leathers’ are being wielded as proud owners remove the effects of the previous shower from their cars.
The Rolls Royce tent houses a magnificent Silver Ghost on wooden wheels with huge studded leather seats. Small mats are strapped to the running boards below each door so that the occupants can wipe their feet before getting in. All that was missing was the Sheik in the back seat!
We’re about to leave when I spot the rear end of a Lancia Stratos hiding in amongst a Metro 6R4 and Mini to name a few. On closer inspection it looks very well presented in the red white and green of the Lancia rally team. But it’s a rally car, surely it shouldn’t look this good, unless it’s a copy. After talking to the chap displaying the car, who opens the clam shell to reveal a V6 Dino engine, I stand corrected. He isn’t the owner, but the man behind the rebuild. The car was found in an Italian barn and it was shipped back to the UK to be restored. As the restoration began, all the original Lancia rally team stamps and numbers were revealed, so it really is a genuine piece of rally history. A top notch restoration and full marks go to Rob Johnston at RMS classics who is entitled to look as chuffed as he did. I’m also pleased that feats like this are tackled and conquered just up the road in Somerset. Men in sheds achieving things…. Albeit sophisticated sheds.
We’re looking forward to a cup of tea and a snoop around Rob’s ‘shed’ soon!