The secret is out. The Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional is, well, exceptional. At last night’s prestigious Royal Automobile Club Historic Awards, held at the club’s home on Pall Mall, London, the event was crowned Motoring Spectacle of 2021.
The Royal Automobile Club, Britain’s oldest motoring organisation, declared the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional ‘a wonderful spectacle,’ saying that it ‘captured the zeitgeist of the classic [car] world.’
Its win was hard-fought, given the calibre of the competition. Finalist events for Motoring Spectacle included the popular E-type 60 at Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb, which marked 60 years of one of the world’s most popular cars, and the inaugural Historic Rally Festival, which celebrated rallying from the 1960s through to the early 2000s.
Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, said, “The standard and diversity of entries was remarkable once again. It was encouraging to see live events coming back into the nominations, particularly given the challenges organisers have faced to stage them.”
The praise reflects the passion that was so evident at the 2021 Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional. Held in the stately grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle, in Lincolnshire, more than 3000 people joined in the event that celebrates the survival and preservation of ‘ordinary’, everyday classic cars from between and 1966 and 1996.
This year’s winning car was a 1989 Proton 1.5 GL Black Knight Edition, the only remaining example in the UK from the original allocation of 201 cars. It was saved from the scrap heap by 30-year old Jon Coupland, a police officer from Boston in Lincolnshire.
Commenting on the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional, which was founded in 2014, the judges for the RAC Historic Awards 2021 said: ‘Defying its name, this brilliant event was truly exceptional in 2021.
‘Not only does such a gathering of the mundane create a wonderful spectacle, but we also felt that Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional is capturing the zeitgeist of the classic world, and introducing legions of new fans into the joys of owning old cars. Affordable, accessible and inclusive, this event turns the everyday into the extraordinary.’
Mark Roper, Managing Director of Hagerty, said that the award was a recognition of the support of thousands of car enthusiasts, without whom the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional wouldn’t be possible.
“The Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional was created to recognise that car enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes, and no matter what they drive, the passion for driving and our hobby is the same. The car community is a special one, and this award goes out to all those that take part and strive to preserve driving for future generations. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.”
The event was created to celebrate some of the rarest cars remaining on UK roads. In addition to a dazzling display of several thousand vehicles that are regarded as cars of the people, a competitive element sees a concours for 50 cars judged by a panel that must nominate an overall champion, and the vetting process is every bit as rigorous as the world’s most exclusive concours.
According to the Royal Automobile Club, which was formed in 1897, the criteria for Motoring Spectacle was to ‘recognise the stunning range of classic and historic car events that take place around the UK throughout the year. Potential nominees must have no element of timed competition. Eligible events include concours d’elegance, tours, classic vehicle shows and club gatherings. Judges will be looking for events – big or small – that have displayed a true sense of spectacle.’
The Historic Awards feature eight categories: Collection; Competitive Event; Personality; Young Achiever; Restoration; Outstanding Journalism; and Lifetime Achievement. Hagerty was also a finalist in the Outstanding Journalism category, with Giles Chapman’s story about classic milkfloats and the demise of the local dairy industry. It was pipped to the post by David Tremayne’s profile of Donald Campbell, which was published in Magneto.
A popular winner, the news prompted guests still to attend the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional to ask when the 2022 event will be staged. As soon as we have the date and venue confirmed, we’ll share it here and across our social channels. Give us a follow and stay tuned…