Thousands of once-ordinary, uninspiring and somewhat boring cars from yesteryear descended on the Lincolnshire landscape at the weekend for the annual Festival of the Unexceptional show.
The unique event, hosted by Hagerty, is a celebration of all motors that you’d consider as far from desirable as you can get but for one reason or another have been cherished by their enthusiast owners who have restored or maintained them in stunning condition.
The event, which was a complete sell-out, saw a 1989 Proton 1.5 GL Black Knight – the lone surviving example of 201 sold in Britain – crowned the best in show.
Cast your eyes over these other monotonous motors that were exhibited at the event…
Best in show: This 1989 Proton 1.5 GL Black Knight was awarded Best in Show among 50 mundane motors taking part in the Concours de l’Ordinaire at the 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional car show
The 2021 show was hosted at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire on Saturday and is described as the ‘car concours unlike any other’.
Droves of dull vehicles were in attendance with pride by a record number of car enthusiasts who were thrilled to showcase their forgettable four-wheelers with 50 unexceptional – but wonderfully kept – motors competing for the top award of best in show.
Hagerty’s panel of esteemed judges took their Thermos flasks to a tartan rug and debated the winners over countless cups of tea and many custard creams. Eventually an agreement was reached, and the 2021 winners were announced.
Best in show went to Jon Coupland, 30, from Boston, Lincolnshire, for his 1989 Proton 1.5 GL Black Knight – for which he also has a matching watch.
It is one of just 201 examples sold in the UK but is the only one to survive today.
Some 201 of these Protons were registered in the UK, but only this one remains in existence with the rest going to the scrapheap in the sky
The Proton that won the Best in Show belongs to 30-year-old Jon Coupland from Boston, Lincolnshire (middle), who owns three Proton cars in total
Coupland also has a matching black and gold Proton watch to match his eighties saloon car
The car had been kept in a garage for almost a quarter of a century and even total has a little over 13,000 miles on the clock
The previous owner put the Black Knight into a garage in 1993, with just 3,600 miles recorded, and it didn’t surface again for 24 years.
Since coming out of a motoring hibernation in 2017, Coupland has put almost 10,000 additional miles on the clock and he says it’s the star of his three-Proton collection – an accolade we doubt can be given to any other vehicle collector on the planet.
The runner-up will be a fond favourite for those who passed their driving test in the 1990s and early 2000s – a Peugeot 106.
Incredibly, it had been bought recently for just £500 via Facebook Marketplace.
Owner Danny Wilson (27) from Driffield in East Yorkshire, brought the peppermint-coloured 1991 Peugeot 106 XN back to life himself, and the judges noted that it was fitted with a carburetter and choke found only on the very earliest examples, marking it out as a true survivor of the scrap heap.
Runner-up in the 2021 Concours de l’Ordinaire was Danny Wilson, 27, from Driffield in East Yorkshire. He is pictured left with his 1991 Peugeot 106 that he had bought for £500 from Facebook Marketplace and restored
Cars like this G-reg Nissan Bluebird made up the thousand-strong lawn of once-mainstream and utterly boring vehicles on display
This year’s show was a sell-out affair, with the event cancelled last year due to restrictions enforced during the pandemic
Organisers said one of the biggest surprises was the increase in younger owners who have bought, restored and maintained older, relatively dull, cars
Hagerty created the first Festival of the Unexceptional in 2014 as a celebration of long-forgotten everyday family cars from 1968-1989, now fondly known as the ‘unexceptional era’.
The 2021 selection offered one of the best concours lawns in seven years of the festival, with cars arriving from across the nation to be judged as one of the best of the best.
‘When did you last see an Audi 100E Avant, or a Fiat Strada? A Mazda 929 Estate drew the crowds as a genuine forgotten hero, and the same was true of an ultra-rare Lancia Trevi. An Escort Popular proved the brilliance of a base model and a Daewoo Espero offered a perfect blend of an unexceptional car with an exceptional ownership story,’ Hagerty says.
The event was held by Hagerty at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire and has drawn plenty of coverage given its unique appeal
Thousands of cars flocked to the event this year, with the castle grounds lined with motors from the ‘Unexceptional Era’
The show is designed for those who own vehicles from 1968 to 1989 to celebrate their cars and meet others who collect motors from the same generation
Not only does the event mark the cars of a forgettable era for motoring but also the style and fashion from 1969 to 1989
Paul Cowland, television presenter, Hagerty columnist and judge of the Concours de l’Ordinaire, said it was great to see younger drivers embracing and saving old, everyday cars. ‘
‘For me, it is the diversity of the scene and the affordability and accessibility that makes events like the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional so appealing.
‘The fact that the second-placed car cost just £500 car shows how inclusive this scene is – everyone is welcome and there are no egos.’
Tickets for the event sold out weeks ahead of the show taking place and is yet another sign of how well the classic car industry has coped during the pandemic
Despite some of the cars at the show being far older than many of the attendees, there was a rise in interest in younger motoring fans
From ageing Ford Escorts to uninspiring Rover 820s, the Festival of the Unexceptional is the car show for underappreciated classics
This is the only car show you’re likely to visit where three Volvo 480s are parked between a Fiat 127 and Toyota Celica
Speaking at the event James Mills, Hagerty’s UK Editor, added: ‘What stood out for me this year was the number of fantastic cars fielded by younger entrants.
‘It’s great to see the next generation of enthusiasts showing a real passion for everyday, ordinary, and unexceptional classics and demonstrates the growing love for this accessible scene.
‘Our Festival started out as a small, cult event but today we saw thousands of visitors make the trip to admire the unsung heroes of the classic car world.’
While the 50 concours cars were the focal attraction, the festival car park created an additional show within the main event, with hundreds of unexceptional cars parked on the heritage grass of Grimsthorpe.
While almost all of the cars on display are models most of us would never consider cherishing, they – for one reason or another – hold a special place in some motorists’ hearts
The 2021 selection offered one of the best concours lawns in seven years of the festival, with cars arriving from across the nation to be judged as one of the best of the best
The annual event takes place at different locations each year giving owners of undesirable classics the chance to showcase their vehicles
One onlooker takes a closer look at an original Fiat Panda that was among the 50 models to feature in the concours event
Highlights included a brace of Bond Bugs, a fantastically preserved Mk1 Ford Granada Coupe, countless Skoda Estelles and Favorits from the pre-VW era, a brilliantly basic Land Rover Discovery 3-door and Sri Lankan Toyota Terecel 4WD to name but a few.
The Covid-19 outbreak last year saw the annual event cancelled, with Lee Mathewson, managing director of Hagerty UK, saying it was ‘a delight to see so many people enjoying a welcome return to car shows, sharing stories with like-minded enthusiasts and enjoying celebrating car culture once again’.
He added: ‘Hagerty is proud to be at the forefront of the unexceptional movement and looks forward to hosting the Festival of the Unexceptional once again in 2022.’
A Fiat Strada enters the castle grounds. Once a fairly common sight, it is a rarity to see one of these on the road today
While the 50 concours cars were the focal attraction, the festival car park created an additional show within the main event, with hundreds of unexceptional cars parked on the heritage grass of Grimsthorpe
The Covid-19 outbreak last year saw the annual event cancelled, with Lee Mathewson, managing director of Hagerty UK, saying it was ‘a delight to see so many people enjoying a welcome return to car shows, sharing stories with like-minded enthusiasts and enjoying celebrating car culture once again’
Hagerty created the first Festival of the Unexceptional in 2014 as a celebration of long-forgotten everyday family cars from 1968-1989, though it does allow for newer examples to be showcased at the event
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