Rustival: A Bright and Friendly Start to 2024’s Car Show Season

by Antony Ingram
14 March 2024 3 min read
Rustival: A Bright and Friendly Start to 2024’s Car Show Season

There aren’t many car shows that could carry off a lineup as diverse as a Ferrari F12, a trio of cop-spec Ford Crown Victorias, and a not insignificant proportion of the UK’s remaining Perodua Nippas, but one show that can – and did – is Rustival.

Set up by Ian and Carly from the HubNut YouTube channel, Steph from idriveaclassic, and Matt from Furious Driving, and hosted at the British Motor Museum near Gaydon, Rustival has that feeling of rightness that you get from only a handful of car events, such as the Scrambles at Bicester or the Festival of the Unexceptional.

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As hinted at above, though, the collection of cars that turned up was perhaps even more diverse than FOTU’s charming misfits or the more traditional classics and supercars you’ll find at a Scramble. While the show certainly attracted a few common themes (old French cars were notably numerous, as was British Leyland metal), you were just as likely to see Japanese kei cars, American land yachts, and old Eastern Bloc survivors, their beaming owners only too happy to give you the low-down on their quirky rides.

Rustival Ford Escort ZX2

Parking was divided into Mayfair and Vanden Plas, the former taking residence at the museum’s upper car parks and the latter curving around the museum itself. To overlook Mayfair was to miss out; highlights included almost certainly the UK’s only Ford Escort ZX2, a late-’90s American import that apparently came over when it was new, possibly saving it from a life of being driven into the ground by college students in its home country. According to its owner, mechanical parts are relatively easy to come by, a mix of Ford and Mazda (it shared its platform with the contemporary 323), but trim and body elements are much trickier.

Nearby was another 1990s coupe, a sharp-looking fifth-generation Honda Prelude, this one in imported Type-S specification and owned by a serial Prelude enthusiast. Subtle modifications including wheels from an Accord and a Mugen exhaust gave it a further visual lift. The Vauxhall Astra ‘F’ GSi nearby must be among the best in the country, and the same can be said for the Citroën Visa GTi a few rows away in the Mayfair car park – though amazingly given the model’s rarity, it wasn’t the only Visa at the show.

One of three of those Perodua Nippas was also hanging out in Mayfair, a car notable for its rarity – the howmanyleft website reckons 34 of Malaysia’s rebadged Daihatsu Mira are still registered in the UK, so Rustival’s turnout was nearly a tenth of that. The late Marcello Gandini apparently had a hand in the Nippa’s design, but the three pre-Supercinq Renault 5s at Rustival (one Gordini, and two in more charmingly basic spec) reinforce interest in the all-new Renault 5 that is launching soon.

Kei car favourites included a Honda S660 wearing a few aftermarket aerodynamic elements, a freshly-revived Daihatsu Mira Avanzato, and possibly the angriest-looking generation of Daihatsu Hijet, among several others. There were many Renault Twingos, of which our favourite was a car sitting low over a set of three-spoke wheels, while a few minutes’ walk away was another yellow car wearing three-spokes, a Fiat Seicento Sporting on a set of oh-so-’90s Benetton wheels. The trailer-towing Renault 4L and modified first-generation Honda Civic next to it looked great, too.

If bright colours are your thing, then one car had most of them all to itself – a SEAT Arosa decked out in Volkswagen ‘Harlequin’ style, inside and out (another Benetton recipient, this time the steering wheel), and rolling on a set of Ferrari wheels. Other eye-catching colour combinations included what is surely the UK’s only 1980s Renault Rodeo – this one in French Blue, with yellow-painted Gordini wheels – a metallic green Morris Marina, an apple green Alfasud, and, parked alongside each other, a teal Porsche 944 and purple TVR Chimaera.

We could go on, but instead you’re probably better off checking out the photos above and the other ones we’ve included in our gallery. And while it hasn’t been announced just yet, be prepared to pencil next year’s Rustival into your diary, too, as it’s looking like one of the year’s must-attend shows.

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