For the past few year, our club has joined forces with the Wolseley Owners Club and the Landcrab Owners Club International under the banner “BMC Friends Together”
We have a regular stand at the Tatton Park Classic Car Spectacular, the biggest show in the North West, with 90 stands and over a 1,000 cars
Having three clubs pooling resources means that we can compete against the big clubs, with a large stand and substantial marquee. In fact we’ve won a 1st and 2nd best club stand in the last few years.
2021 was challenging, as instead of the usual 35m x 30m plot, we were reduced to 25m x 30m without notice. To make matters worse the marquee was erected in the wrong spot. As I surveyed all the cars crammed into a smaller space I declared “It looks like a 1960’s used car lot” and that was the genesis of my idea - the recreation of a period car dealership! The other clubs were keen to get involved and nobody could recall seeing the idea being used before
The Tatton show was to be held over the 2022 Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend - this gave us the name of our dealership “Jubilee Motors”.
I studied old photos of petrol stations, car showrooms and dealerships and came up with a list of “must have” features.
Firstly, the marquee was to be our Sales Office. This was easy to achieve with period signage from petrol and oil companies which we reproduced on laminated paper and stuck to the marquee with strong fixing tape. We also included a few “MoT Testing Station” signs for good measure. (Thanks to our Treasurer John Dickson for the printing, laminating and backing of all the signs used on the stand.) Fence posts and Union Jack bunting were strung around the perimeter by Mark Chivers (Landcrab Club). Most of this was done on the Friday before the show. Our Lancashire Area Secretary, Ian Lee, brought his large petrol mower and cut the grass and the Landcrab team followed behind raking up the cuttings so that we had a nice surface to work on.
Next were the petrol pumps. I have a friend, Andy Shaw, who reproduces classic Wayne pumps in fibreglass. He agreed to bring a couple along to put outside the marquee, with a Landcrab parked alongside ready to re-fuel. Most period photos showed uniformed pump attendants ready to “pump-gas” for their customers. They wore basic white jackets, with the oil company logo on the breast pocket and coloured flashes on the collar. I realised these were similar to modern laboratory coats, which can be bought inexpensively. Our friends in the Wolseley club had a member with a computerised embroidery machine who could add the badge and collars. We brought three jackets in various sizes (including child's) to use as props for members of the public to take a “selfie” photo with the pumps. It proved to be very popular, especially with the children who were amazed that there was such a job as Petrol Pump Attendant!
As a bonus, Andy also makes full-sized replica robots from 1960’s sci-fi dramas, such as Robbie the Robot from “Lost in Space”. He kindly brought two of these to display inside the marquee as an additional attraction.
Now to the cars. We decided to use all the old stereotypes and cliches of car sales. The prices in the window were to be as per late 1960’s - so no car over £600 and a few for £80! (small disclaimers were added in case any wise-guys thought they could actually buy them!)
These signs were complemented by additional ones proclaiming “One Lady Driver”, “Free Jump Leads”, “3 Good Tyres” etc
I’d seen pictures of cars for sale with banners secured to the roof gutters but it was impossible to find anything like that. Our Wolseley friend could print the basic banner on vinyl, but the issue was how to mount it? Then I got inspiration from the magnetic mounts used to fix TAXI signs to roofs. These come with a bolt thread to secure the sign. Using a 3D-Printer I designed an adapter to accept a 12” x 9mm dowel rod. In effect it looked like a stubby car aerial. A pair of these on the roof supported the banner, which had a sleeve sewn at either end to slide over the rod. A couple of red, white and blue balloons attached to the wing mirrors completed the effect.
One special car displayed at the stand entrance was John Dicksons’s recreation of the Corgi A60 Driving School Car - winner of our Virtual Rally competition earlier in the year .It certainly earned some double-takes by the passing public!
No dealership would be complete without a Service Bay. Steve Turner volunteered to be our Chief Mechanic and COOC Secretary, Steve McGonigle’s Riley 4/68 was securely placed on ramps outside of the marquee. The diorama was completed by having “Arthur” the mechanic under the car with his legs sticking out. Arthur was actually the bottom half of a shop mannequin that I’d bought on Facebook for £5 (don’t ask) He was dressed in overalls and work boots and was another attraction that generated a few double-takes. Steve McGonigle was canny in volunteering his car to be used as he had Mr Turner doing some actual jobs on it for him!
No dealership would be complete without salesmen. Steve McGonigle, Andrew Martindale and myself played the parts of roving salesmen - engaging the public in banter about the cars whilst dressed in the styles of the day and carrying clipboards with sales information and a 1969 Glass’s Guide for used car prices.
The weather was glorious on Saturday and we had a lot of visitors to the stand.
Period “Heartbeat” music was playing inside the marquee with free tea and coffee on offer. Unfortunately, Sunday was a bit of a wash-out but we still enjoyed ourselves immensely and raised a smile with the public.
The preparation for our stand was coordinated over a few weeks with a couple of conference calls and individuals were given responsibility for each area. The whole thing came together like a military operation and went very smoothly.
It goes to prove that car shows don’t just have to be neat lines of cars parked in a field.
They can be dynamic and engaging events!