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Letter From The UK: The Wilton Show

Letter from the UK

Such stuff as dreams are made on . . . 

Not my words alas, but rather those of a popular writer called William Shakespeare. To be honest, I am not sure he was actually talking about cars as his prime peaked before the automobile, but I like to think he was.

Here in Great Britain, we look to America for all that is good in the world of automobiles and this is especially true with car shows. I don’t mean the new car motor shows that every country has where manufacturers show us their increasingly mundane offerings in the hope that we might buy them.


I mean the enthusiast events where the love of cars transcends money and commerce. We gaze across the pond at your automotive lifestyle and your cheap fuel and wish those freedoms could be ours. We can but dream.

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Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.

The Problem

Not content with major events like the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, it seems to us that every town in the USA has regular “Cars & Coffee” meets on a vacant lot. Show and shine and meet your friends and neighbors. What could be better?

It’s just not the same here in the UK.

For a start, if you want to hold absolutely any event, the organizers must first approach local authorities for permission. They then have to jump through a series of hoops to meet all manner of invented standards and pay large assorted cash sums to achieve an outcome.

We are very hot on health and safety here. A policeman cannot jump into a swollen river to save a drowning child unless he has first completed a “risk assessment.” That’s the official line. Event organizers have to cover every possible eventuality; including, but not exclusively, medical emergencies, “personal” facilities, attacks by killer bees, low-level strafing by martian warships, and possible surprise visits by politicians. The latter being the most worrisome, obviously.

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Photo: Wilton Classic and Supercar.

The Hope

Fortunately, we have people who can rise above such adversity, and in the manner of every backyard musical ever produced, can “put the show on right here!”

This was the view taken a few years ago by the generous and enlightened Earl of Pembroke whose fascination with speed, power, and all things automotive gave birth to an event. He decided to stage the Wilton Classic & Supercar show at his own pad, the iconic Wilton House, which has been home to the Earls of Pembroke since Tudor times.

I mention this particularly because it is not far from where I live in Wiltshire, and it is always a great car show.

Wilton Classic & Supercar is the perfect place for guests to not only see and hear some of the greatest high-performance cars of all time, but also to learn about the people that made and are still making automotive history. After a year off to regroup, the organizers are in 2017 bringing together the latest and greatest supercars from around the world, and their equally iconic and classic predecessors.

I’m confident the show will stand apart in the packed international calendar of car events, celebrating the stories behind the cars we love.

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Photo: Wilton Classic and Supercar.

The Promise

This Wiltshire extravaganza takes place on the 3rd and 4th of June and will comprise over ten sub-events, each one very different, providing entertainment and fascination throughout the weekend. Details are yet to be revealed but are shaped around three core events: the Wilton Wow!, the Wilton 6 Nations, and the Wilton 100 – The Concours d’Histoire – which will bring together a diverse variety of models from around the world with rich and interesting stories to tell.

Maybe things aren’t so bad after all?

Momentary Reflection

While writing this, I did a quick internet search for car shows. It revealed a website that listed no less than sixteen pages of major car events around the United States, and I would guess that did not include a lot of local functions. Car fans here can’t possibly hope to compete with that, but when we do put on a show, we always do it well. We celebrate the mundane, mainstream cars of yesterday, the classics of yesteryear; American metal that has made it over here, and of course, the supercars we all love from every era.

Perhaps our dreams can come true after all?

Geoff Maxted is a motoring writer, photographer, and author of our Letter From The UK series. Follow his work on Twitter: @DriveWrite

Wilton Classic & Supercar official site.

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Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.