Contrast that with the calm and happy scene at the village green nearest my house just five days before. Ashley Green, between Berkhamsted, Herts and Chesham, Bucks, has an annual fête with an excellent classic car show attached. There are no one-make clubs staking out a tribal territory, no cordons, no 'Please Do Not Touch' or worse. It's inclusive, it's free, and this year a good 60 cars turned up. The wedding party at the adjacent village church were delighted at this unexpected extra entertainment; seldom are car-show visitors as well-dressed as these were, Cartier Style et Luxe excepted of course.
There is no better way to get the public engaged with the classic car hobby than by showing off the cars in a free event on their doorstep. That's how those who might never have thought of owning a classic get hooked. It's also amazing what treasures have been lurking locally behind closed garage doors, suddenly to emerge. Another recent local show was joined by a Chrysler-engined Ghia L6.4, a rare and extraordinary piece of coachbuilt extravagance made famous by the mid-1960s Corgi model that was the first to feature opening everything. And here was the real thing, utterly immaculate, and it lived near me. Who knew?
Diversity is a modern buzz-word, but there was plenty of it here. At one extreme was a Mini Scamp kit car, out of whose load bay emerged a miniature replica of a Willys Jeep built on a quad-bike base. At the other were vintage and post-vintage Rolls-Royces and Lagondas. I arrived in my trusty Stiletto (again) followed immediately and coincidentally by friend Bryan in his 1961 E-type roadster. Another friend, Jonathan, celebrated the sunshine by bringing his Triumph Herald convertible, joining two similar Triumphs.
There were Morris Minors, MGs of all ages including a lovely mint-green ZA Magnette, a fine Jensen C-V8 showing that even in 1966 glassfibre could be made as smooth and precisely-fitting as steel, a deliciously correct MkII Mini-Cooper, a beautifully-restored 1969 MG Midget which I coveted quite a lot. And there was Americana.