For starters, there was not a single people carrier, cross-over vehicle or SUV 4x4 to be seen on the Stowe House lawn at this light-hearted Concours event for the truly Unexceptional cars that many of us grew up with. Instead, this Concours d’Ordinaire was a sea of beige and brown 1970s and 80s family saloons, estates and hatchbacks; the type of car body styles that are now increasingly rare to see dropping the kids off at the school gates.
Not only have the body configurations of the type of family cars we chose today changed considerably over the past few decades, but the minimum standard of the equipment we now demand has increased substantially too, with ABS, airbags, electric windows, a decent audio system, and so on the norm in even the most basic of entry-level cars.
Conversely, one of the Festival of the Unexceptional participants, a pale beige 1983 entry-level Austin Metro City, had such a sparse level of standard equipment that it even lacked the basics; a passenger sun visor, opening rear windows, grab handles, a heated rear window and no rear wash-wipe, never mind the basic specification we all expect today, such as an audio system, head restraints, climate control and airbags.
Some of the other Unexceptional cars in the Concours even lacked basic creature comforts such as floor carpets (roll forward the DAF 55 and Fiat 128), 12-volt outlet/cigarette lighters (Vauxhall Victor FE and Renault 12) and central locking (roll forward 90 per cent+ of the remaining Unexceptional cars). Conversely, though, fake wood Formica inserts were commonplace (Simca 1100 GLS, Hillman Avenger GLS, Princess HL, etc.), whereas these would be unacceptable to new car buyers today, who demand real wood.