Celebrate British Car Week!

OK, so I am a day or two late, but … let’s get on with it.  This is British Car Week!! Get out there and drive those cars and let the world know we are still on the road.

British Car Week

I will just quote from Scott Helms here to tell you about British Car Week. Scott has the “official” British Car Week site, and is the keeper of this flame, so here goes …

The idea came about during the early spring of 1997 after reading an article written by Road & Track columnist, Peter Egan (Side Glances), in the March, 1997 issue of Road & Track Magazine, titled “Seldom seen cars.”

Peter writes in his article about his trip to the Dentist’s office, which spawned a conversation about cars. While sitting in the Dentist chair with his mouth full of gauze, the doctor commented that he hadn’t seen a Porsche 356 on the road in years.

During the remainder of his time in the dentist’s chair Peter couldn’t speak, so he had plenty of time to sit with his eyes closed and ponder about that comment. So he asked himself the same question…. “When was the last time I saw a Porsche 356 on the road?”

He recalled quite a few at organized car events, vintage races at Elkhart Lake, Mid Ohio, and Monterey, but noted that once he got more than 25 miles away from those landmark events, most of the old cars seemed to evaporate into thin air.

The exception was Southern California, where he used to live, where on any Saturday or Sunday, he could hang around by the Pacific Coast Highway or Mulholland Drive and watch the traffic go by. He would see one of almost everything in a given hour’s time, from Cobras, Speedsters, ’32 high-boy roadsters, to MGA’s, TC’s, E-Types, and Woodie wagons. Porsche 356 coupes? They were everywhere! Peter continues to tell us in his story that the last time he spotted a 356 Porsche on the road was in 1976.

As a response to Mr. Peter Egan’s story, birth came to British Car Week during that very same spring of 1997. This very first successful British Car Week began as an earnest attempt to help create interest among enthusiastic British car owners, who would pull together to help generate awareness of older model British cars in their home town environment. Car owners and entire clubs came together to make it a success.

Since then, British Car Week has been an ongoing, annual opportunity for all classic car owners to get together with other classic car owners in their own communities, regardless of geographical origins, and share stories, answer questions, and display their cars among those who rarely get a chance to learn about and appreciate them. Whether it’s a church parking lot, town square, local restaurant, pub, park, shopping mall, car rally, or daily drive around town, the intent is to get these cars out of their hiding places and into public view.

There’s no mistaking, historic British cars are a special breed of automobiles that have played an important role of shaping automobile design as we know it today. Even though they have characteristics that are not easily replicated, car manufacturers of today are constantly struggling to create the same kind of excitement that British car designers of the past were able to accomplish so naturally without the use of modern technologies. With each passing year, their history, design features, racing pedigree, and even their idiosyncrasies become increasingly appreciated.

This appreciation is especially true for those who experience these cars for the very first time. Once bitten by the British car hobby bug, these newly born enthusiasts begin buying books, magazines, regalia, cars and parts, and anything else they can get their hands on to fulfill their yearning for British car fun. They soon become an integral support that helps keep the hobby thriving for many enjoyable years to come. If these cars are tucked away in a dark corner of a garage, this scenario will never happen.

So if you’re the owner of a British car, grab your goggles and driving gloves, and be sure to top off your dashpots! It’s time to have some fun! If you’re not the owner of a British car…maybe it’s time you join us!

See you on the road….

Scott Helms

By the way, if you are a Peter Egan fan like I am, his column “On the Eternal Quest to Save Classic Cars From Road-Salt Rust” from 1997 is of a similar vein and well worth the read.

Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car enthusiast, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a 1977 MGB. But there is always room for more - no matter what his wife says.