The picturesque, stately grandeur of Brownlow House provided an idyllic backdrop for the annual Castle Classic Club show. The sight of a series 1 E-Type grabbing some shade below a tree, as the lawns bathed in golden sunshine, looked suitably perfect. It harked back to a previous halcyon-era of carefree motoring, when British sports cars ruled the roost.
In fact, that could have been the unintentional theme of the show, as there were a fantastic array of MGs with an MGA MGB, Midgets and even a Magnette on show. This was complemented by a, glorious Triumph Spitfire, a little TR6 and the distinctive face of the Austin-Healy ‘Frogeye’ Sprite. This particular TR6 took a particularly circuitous route to Lurgan, starting off life in the USA as a left-hand-drive model. It eventually ended up in Northern Ireland, where the owner undertook a full nut and bolt restoration.
But the focus wasn’t solely on the classic coupes and drop tops. There is nothing more wonderful that seeing a former family saloon – perhaps something that was taken for granted – preserved in time-warp condition. Too often, the everyday cars of the past are forgotten about and it isn’t until they slip away to the scrapyard in the sky that we realise we’ve lost some important automotive heritage. Vauxhall Vivas sat alongside Hillman Avengers and the iconic coke-bottle shaped Ford Cortina.
The wedge-shaped Lotus Esprit has an instantaneously recognisable profile. Once upon a time, the Turbo version was the car of choice for James Bond, and let’s face it; he knew a thing or two about fast cars. Although, Bond did make a getaway in a Citroen 2CV once. Luckily, there was at least one, if not two on hand, just in case the need arose.
Displays were anything but conventional and all the better for it. German 80s icons like the Porsche 911 and Volkswagen Golf GTi parked up alongside Massey-Ferguson’s finest. Commercial vehicles parked beside superbikes; campers beside convertibles. The MX-5 might be a relatively modern design, but it owes all its styling cues to a previous age. In fact, the same could be said of Honda’s free revving S2000. However, another Japanese car really caught the eye. The Suzuki SC100 is an incredibly rare vehicle in standard form. So much so, that Suzuki UK maintains one as part of their heritage fleet. Therefore, the wide arch version below must be verging on the unique.
The ever-present and iconic Mini was exhibited in various guises, including a couple of immaculate Cooper S cars. Towards the end of the Mini’s life, special edition after special edition rolled off the production lines, including this rather bizarre golf tie in: the British Open Classic. The car celebrated the tournament of the same name and came with tweed upholstery, cream leather steering wheel and a full-length Webasto electric sunroof as well as the tell-tale decals.
Local legend has it that General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War, stayed at Brownlow House. Whilst there was no proper America muscle on display, there was a (rather tenuous) Amercian connection in the shape of a gaggle of Shelby Cobra replicas. Either way, these cars still have the timeless looks and trademark growl.
The setting, the beautiful weather and the variety of machinery on display culminated in a friendly and fascinating show, where every owner had a story to tell. Many thanks to Sonny Gorman for the fantastic photos; a complete gallery is available below.