What’ll she do, Mister? The St John’s Wood, Father’s Day,  Classic and Supercar Pageant

In May I completed my 5th Mille Miglia in my little Ferrari 166MM Barchetta. It’s a 1000 mile, 4 day rally around Italy with cars dating from 1927 – 1957. It’s pure unmitigated Italian joy…..wrapped up in all the classic Italian madness one would expect from such a venture. On day 2, we had a pit stop outside San Marino and whilst stretching my legs, a group of young Italian ‘Tifosi’, consisting of both, young men and women, started to circle the car, cooing about it, because of course, it was above all, ‘a classic Ferrari’. 

Then came the inevitable question from one ‘Jack, or should I say Giovanni, the lad’, (asked in fairness, in a manner that he knew full well was a cheeky one to ask): Quanta Costa?  My Italian is far from perfect, but with a smile on my face and gently slapping him around the face to the considerable mirth of his girlfriends, I gave my standard answer to such a question: La velocità massima è di 190 kms. (The top speed is 120mph).

Unfortunately, even back in the late Eighties when doing magazine articles about the cars, I distinctly remember a couple of young boys on bikes in the small seaside town of Borth in Wales, coming up to the photo shoot I was attending and then bold as brass, asking, ‘What’s that worth?’ to which I answered, ‘when Your Dad was a young lad, the only question he would ask would be ‘What’ll she do Mister’.

Such is the widely held and more recent view of the Classic Car Market. Only the value seems to be of primary interest to many, not the inherent attributes of the car in question, be it the marque, the beauty of the styling, the capability of the car, or indeed its rarity or provenance.

But our Classic and Supercar Pageant, held in the High Street on Sunday June 17th, Fathers’ Day, provided ample push back on that thought process. Yes, we had cars literally ranging from $75 million to 

£7,000 but the point is that the owners almost to a man, or woman, are pure enthusiasts who allowed the thousands of visitors to get really close to the cars on show and to truly appreciate them. Nick Mason’s Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the most important cars in this country, bar none, but he kindly allowed the car to not only be on display, but to have people sit in it and be photographed for charity. Classic car dealer Gregor Fisken bought the most exquisite 1913 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, a Pebble Beach Concours winner that is quite simply a work of art, and arrived top down, in the rain, the beautiful woodwork and inlaid marquetry getting gently sprayed during its drive over from Knightsbridge. Then there was the Pulse Motor Cycle, looking like an RAF Red Arrow for the road, that was driven over, driver and son, all the way from Loughton in Essex.

So for the 6th consecutive year, on Fathers’ Day Sunday June 17th, St John’s Wood High Street once again reverberated to the sounds of multi cylinder engines and the smell of Castrol R – and the locals turned out in their thousands despite a generally gloomy day. I would venture to say that the Car Pageant is THE community gathering for our locality and beyond. So many people simply wouldn’t miss it and use it as an opportunity to spend a day enjoying the company of old friends and the hospitality of our shops and restaurants. This year, the St John’s Hospice was the sole charitable beneficiary and once again, the bulk of the sponsorship came from the local Knight Frank branch, along with contributions from dealers such as Hexagon of Highgate and Hendon Way Motors, together with M&A Repairs of Kentish Town.  All in all, it was a day that once again allowed us to appreciate the beauty of design that the car industry has provided us all these past hundred years, a return to uninhibited individualistic styling derived from function in pursuit of speed and comfort. What’ll she do Mister? Indeed.