The 2019 Festival of the Unexceptional is the ultimate stage for unremarkable rides
Later this summer, on the grounds of the Stowe School at the Claydon Estate in Buckinghamshire, UK, Hagerty will be staging an “exceptionally ordinary” event. It’s our annual Festival of the Unexceptional Concours d’Ordinaire, an event for vintage vehicles that were once commonplace and mundane, but are now quite rare. Think Escorts and Horizons, not Esprits and Huracáns.
Organizers have selected 53 exceptionally fine examples out of the 125 unexceptional, “nerve-wrackingly normal” entrants. In addition to those run-of-the-mill machines, the show has invited owners of other unremarkable vehicles to display them at the festival, including garden-variety commercial vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, a special class for cars celebrating some kind of anniversary this year, and heritage vehicles from manufacturers’ collections.
Visitors will also be able to check out as many as 500 unexceptional, but still interesting, cars that are expected to be driven to the event by attendees.
Entrants in the festival are also invited to participate in the Hagerty Feast of the Unexceptional, encouraged to pack a picnic lunch, with period-correct (but hopefully not actual vintage) food and beverages, to go with their cars. An award is given for the best, presumably most period-correct picnic.
The judges had an extraordinarily difficult job winnowing down the entrants, hence the slightly larger field than normal. One judge was overheard muttering, “Some of these cars are as exciting as your fridge at home.”
First staged by Hagerty back in 2014, the Festival of the Unexceptional has achieved cult status and draws visitors from around the globe. The idea is to remind people of the cars that once filled the roads that are now mostly memories, iron oxide alloy, and Chinese-made washing machines. Unlike exotic supercars and big-engined muscle cars, the mundane machines at the festival evoke genuine personal memories because people have connections with those cars as family vehicles.
Hagerty applauds the passion shown in keeping the lesser-loved rarities alive and created the Festival to show the world that classic car enthusiasts covet all types of vehicles, and to reward those who keep these examples of UK motoring heritage alive.
Some of the notable nobodies at the show will include a Yugo 45 Convertible, which was already rare when Malcolm Bricklin was hawking the Eastern Bloc Fiats and is now virtually extinct. A Morris Marina Coupe, now restored to concours standard, was found being used as a dog kennel on the Isle of Wight.
The full list of competitors will not be revealed before the event, to maintain some suspense, but we do know that in addition to the Yugo and Marina, other cars at the concours will include a 1984 Austin Ambassador, 1978 Chrysler-Simca Horizon, 1989 Citroen BX, 1979 Colt Sigma, and 1978 Renault 6.
The event is slated for Saturday, July 20. All entrants must be registered for road use in the UK and driven to the event, as befits a show about daily drivers.
If someone genuinely loves cars, we can’t see how they wouldn’t enjoy this show, which is a genuine bargain. Tickets are just £5 ($6.31), which you can book here. If you’d like a chuckle or two, check out our—if we do say so ourselves—rather clever press release. It’s probably more exceptional than any of the cars you’ll see at the Festival.