The 2020 Festival of the Unexceptional is canceled, but “normal” classics are still worth celebrating

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The 2020 Festival of the Unexceptional, which hosts the forgotten heroes of mundane motoring, has been canceled due to COVID-19, so we’re celebrating online instead.

If this were any other year, Hagerty U.K.’s Festival of the Unexceptional might need a bit of justification. How many car shows celebrate … the normal? In 2020, however, we all have a little more appreciation for normality—and its rarity.

Eddie Rattley Nissan Cherry Europe GTi Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional
Hagerty UK

The cars that (in any other year) would flock to the fields of Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, England, seem underwhelming. However, while “unexceptional” may appear in the event’s title, these particular cars are often rarer than the latest Italian supercar. These rarities just happen to wear less exotic sheetmetal.

Take, for instance, the winner of the very first Concours de l’Ordinaire: a Nissan Cherry Europe, owned by Eddie Rattley. What’s a Cherry Europe, you ask? Essentially, the Nissan-branded version of the Alfa Romeo Arna. Rattley’s example is a particularly rare GTi model, which ensured this car’s deserving status in 2014.

Jonathan Papworth’s Morris “Marina” 575 pickup also proves the valiancy of workhorse vehicles. Papworth, a potato farmer, bought his truck new and has never restored it; however, it’s incredibly tidy. You’d never guess its everyday job description, resting on the castle lawn, where it won the overall prize in 2016.

Two years ago witnessed the unexceptional triumph of a Doom Blue MK2 Vauxhall Astra estate, a ’90s throwback that shows that even the younger enthusiasts among us are prey to nostalgia. We love it.

Does the Festival of the Unexceptional sound like a sweet gig to you? Put it down on your bucket list for July 2021.

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