Ten of the best classic car events to visit this summer: From hillclimbs, to concours and historic racing action
Seventy years’ worth of Ferraris raced up the Goodwood hillclimb to celebrate the Italian car marque’s birthday, but the recent Festival of Speed remained a quintessentially British event.
Blessed with a sunny English summer weekend, it featured everything from a huge sculpture dedicated to Bernie Ecclestone, to drift cars on the hillclimb, and the launch of a family saloon supercar in the form of the Jaguar XE SV Project 8.
That combination of eclecticism and classic cars on a country estate makes the Festival of Speed one of the highlights of the British motoring summer, but if you missed it don’t worry – there are still plenty more events to come and hopefully some more sunshine.
We round up some of the best classic car events to get along to this summer, if you have any to add, please tell us in reader comments below.
Crowds gathered at the side of the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb course to watch a celebration of 70 years of Ferrari – that’s a them that runs through a number of summer events Down in the paddocks at Goodwood, spectators can get up close to the cars that will race up the hill, such as this pair of sharp suited Italians, a 1993 Alfa Romeo 155 DTM, left, and a 1970 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTA
Shelsley Walsh – Classic Nostalgia
22 and 23 July
Shelsley Walsh hillclimb nestled in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside lays claim to being the oldest motorsport venue in the world.
This weekend, 22 and 23 July, it will once again play host to its Classic Nostalgia festival, with a variety of cars racing up the steep hillclimb course, with spectators able to watch from viewing areas on the sidelines.
This year it is the turn of Group A rally cars to take the limelight, following in the footsteps of the Group B cars last year.
Group A took over after the controversial Group B era of Peugeot 205 T16s, Ford RS200s and Metro 6R4s and delivered a run of star cars itself, including the Ford Sierra Cosworth and Lancia Delta Integrale.
The show will also pay tribute to the Campbells and their speed records, with a special Napier Bluebird replica unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of Donald Campbell’s death. The car with its W12 aero engine will do demonstration runs on the hill.
There will also be a concours competition, with the top 15 running up the hill, music, dancing and food. And guests are invited to come in nostalgic dress.
Tickets are £25 on the day, £20 in advance or £35 for the weekend, with under-16s free. Visit www.shelsleywalsh.com
28 to 30 July
Motor racing fans were deprived of a trip to the biennial Le Mans Classic this year but the Silverstone Classic is a great event on home shores.
The Northamptonshire home of the British Grand Prix is turned over to a huge celebration of classic motor racing over three days, with old Formula 1 cars, Masters Historics, GT cars, Touring Cars, the Jaguar Classic Challenge, and bikes among the plethora of races to watch.
A celebrity challenge will involve petrolhead stars taking each other on, with everyone from TV car builder Ant Anstead, to AC/DC singer Brian Johnson and Gold medal Winter Olympian Amy Williams MBE, joining the fray.
There will also be live music, car clubs, air shows and anniversary displays for the Jaguar XJ220, 70 years of Ferrari, Bruce McLaren, and Williams F1 and Nigel Mansell.
Tickets cost £43 for the Friday qualifying, £66 for Saturday, £55 for Sunday, £102 for the Saturday and Sunday, or £118 for the whole weekend. Kids tickets for the whole weekend are £12, or £6 per day, and ages five and under are free. Camping is also available. Visit www.silverstoneclassic.com
Group A rally cars will take the limelight at Shelsley Walsh’s Classic Nostalgia this year, following in the footsteps of the Group B cars last year.
North: 28 to 30 July
South: 25 to 27 August
CarFest is the brainchild of TV host and DJ Chris Evans and while he may not have been to everyone’s taste as a Top Gear host, the event has proved a hit and raises money for Children in Need.
Guests get an array of fantastic cars and racing action at two events, one held for the North, at Bolesworth Estate, in Cheshire, and one for the South at Laverstoke Park Far, Hampshire.
The theme this year is Car-nations and more than sixty stunning cars from the six biggest manufacturing nations, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the USA and Japan will take to the track, ranging from an Aston Martin Vulcan to a 1931 US stock car.
There will be a track sprint run twice a day and the chance to get close to the cars in the paddock.
Music comes from the Happy Mondays, Deacon Blue, Manic Street Preachers, Busted, Paul Heaton, Seasick Steve, Kaiser Chiefs and Texas, among many others, with some acts different at the two venues.
There will be lots of family friendly stuff going on and tickets come with and without camping. An adult weekend camping ticket is £163 or without camping it is £133, kids over six are £46 and £36, respectively, and family tickets are available. A day ticket is £67 on Friday and £72 on Saturday and Sunday, or £15 for kids over six. Under sixes are free. Visit www.carfest.org
Classic car events offer the chance to get close to the vehicles in the paddocks. This Alfa Tipo 33/3 Le Mans racer was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed And it’s not just the paddocks, if your car is special enough you can park inside the Festival of Speed in Performance Parking. This Porsche 911 R certainly counted. You can expect to see more exotic cars like this at CarFest, which takes place in both the North and South.
August 5 and 6
Classic car fans in the North seem to have less on offer from the summer’s run of big motoring events, but Croft Circuit, four miles from Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire, can offer an August weekend of motor sport.
Croft Circuit, Dalton-on-Tees, is a former WW2 RAF bomber airfield, which plays host to regular race meetings, including the British Touring Car Championship, rallycross and track days.
On Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 August it will hold a weekend of motoring and military nostalgia. Expect historic motorsport on track all weekend, cars, buses and bikes on display, and food, stalls and live music.
The weekend will feature flying displays from period aircraft. There will also be a big military display, with re-enactors and living history, plus classic car and trades stalls – and people are encouraged to dress up in vintage clothing.
Advance tickets are currently £11 for Saturday and £16 for Sunday, or £24 for the weekend. Children aged 15 and under are free, with a paying adult. Visit www.croftcircuit.co.uk
The Salon Privé Concours Masters will include the 1949 Ferrari Tipo 166 Inter Coupe Touring, which has competed and finished no less than four Mille Miglias in its lifetime. This example is only the eighth road car ever made by the marque
31 August to 2 September
If you like your classic car shows to be high-end, then Salon Privé is the British summer event for you. This prestigious event will have not one but two completely separate concours events.
Set against the fittingly elegant backdrop of Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, Salon Privé hosts the renowned Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elegance on Thursday 31 August, with a selection of fine rare cars and motorbikes on the lawns.
Organisers say this event now ranks alongside the top international concours events, such as Amelia Island, Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este. Expect some keen scrutiny of some very good cars and bikes, across ten classes, by a judging committee led by racing driver Derek Bell MBE.
Friday is Boodles Ladies’ Day, with a fine-dining lobster lunch, luxury brands, afternoon teas and champagne, all surrounded by classics, supercars and rare hypercars.
Then on Saturday, the new addition of the Concours Masters takes place, celebrating 70 years of Ferrari, with a timeline of 70 of the most iconic cars ever made by the Italian legend. Here the event promises a ‘more relaxed and subjective approach to judging than the traditional close scrutiny of usual concours events’.
As you might expect, a day at Salon Privé doesn’t come cheap. Tickets for Thursday and Friday are £295 and Saturday is £150. Visit www.salonpriveconcours.com
A highlight of the Concours of Elegance, at Hampton Court, will be the UK debut of the Maserati A6G Gran Sport ‘Baillon Barn Find’. Since being found in 2015 under a pile of books in a barn, the Maserati has been recommissioned but remains unrestored.
1 September to 3 September
A more accessible way to see concours quality cars arrives at the Concours of Elegance, at Hampton Court Palace on the same weekend as Salon Prive.
It takes place from Friday 1 September, which is owners’ day, to Sunday 3 September.
In a twist on the usual awards, the Concours of Elegance winner isn’t selected by a panel of judges but by the cars’ owners themselves. Each one is asked to vote on the other models on display to decide on the ‘Best of Show’.
Owners’ day sees 60 cars spanning more than 100 years drive in procession to take their places in the Fountain Gardens for the weekend. This year it is open to non-owners for the first time, with VIP preview day tickets on sale for £50.
Saturday and Sunday are open to the public, with the Jaguar Trophy awarded on the first day, and the Bentley Trophy awarded on the Sunday, both days also feature car club displays.
The Sunday features the Octane Tour, run by Octane magazine, when owners of classics can join a tour through the countryside before arriving at the event to park up and form a special feature. The final day also plays host to the Grand Depart, when spectators can wave off the concours cars.
Tickets for Saturday and Sunday are £40 all-day and £25 after 1pm for adults, £25 for over-60s and £17.50 for children and students. Visit concoursofelegance.co.uk
Rally car legends were also on display at Goodwood at the Feestival of Speed, with this pair of Fords, an Escort Cosworth, left, and an RS200, drawing plenty of onlookers. The Goodwood Revival in September celebrates an older generation of cars from 1948 to 1966
8 to 10 September
The Goodwood Revival is a world famous weekend when the Earl Of March’s West Sussex estate plays host to the romance and glamour of motor racing during the track’s golden era from 1948 to 1966.
Spectators come in period dress to the historic race meeting over three days when good old-fashioned wheel-to-wheel racing, music, dancing, food and drink reign supreme.
The dressing up might be an eye-catching part of the spectacle but the racing is a highlight too. The track plays host to some of the finest racing cars, often raced by some of the biggest driving names.
You can expect former F1, Le Mans and Touring Car drivers to take to the track in everything from early single-seaters, to Ford GT40-era racers, the identical Austin A35 grid, and the GT car category, where E-Types, AC Cobras and Ferrari 250 LMs will be raced.
Some tickets are still available for the Goodwood Revival. Weekend tickets are sold out, but Friday (practice day) admission tickets cost £53, or £102 for roving grandstand tickets. Saturday tickets are sold out, but Sunday tickets for admission are £76 or £150 for admission and roving grandstand.
Children under 12 are free on Sunday, or young person’s tickets are £38 for up to 21-year-olds. If you have entry tickets you can buy grandstand tickets separately. Visit www.goodwood.com
An eclectic mix of cars will be on display and in action at the Kop Hill Climb, last year’s entries included this stunning and rare Triumph Italia
16 and 17 September
Once upon a time Kop Hill, just outside Princes Risborough, played host to hillclimb racing, with the narrow road between fields and trees rising 304 feet in 3,848 feet, with a gradient of 1 in 4 at its steepest.
The road near the Buckinghamshire town is one of the oldest hillclimb venues in England, established in 1910, but it is also especially significant in being the site of the last competitive hillclimb on the public highway.
Between 1910 and 1925, Kop Hill was a major event on the motor sports car and motorcycle calendar, with famous drivers and riders running up the hill, such as Malcolm Campbell in his 12hp Talbot Blue Bird and Count Zborowski in the 8 cylinder Ballot, who recorded the fastest time in his huge-engine car.
By 1925 – a year when an inexperienced driver at Kop Hill came off the course and hit a spectator who had refused to move back – concerns were growing over accidents at public road race events and speed events were closed down.
The Kop Hill Climb was revived as a demonstration event in 2009 to raise money for charity and has become a two-day celebration of an diverse mix of cars and motorbikes, which spectators can watch (safely) roar up the hill.
Cars are on display in the paddocks at the bottom and there are a host of food stalls and places to get drinks, including local beers.
If you would like to enter the Kop Hill Climb, you still can, with interesting pre-1977 vehicles encouraged or a restricted number of slots available for more modern exotic or race-bred cars or bikes.
Tickets cost £10 in advance or £15 on the day for adults or £5 for under 16s. Money raised goes to the Heart of Bucks charity, which has as one of its patrons legendary rally driver Paddy Hopkirk. Visit www.kophillclimb.org.uk
‘Italian bodywork at its best, British tradition in sports car engineering at its finest’ claimed the Triumph Italia brochure
Prescott Autumn Classic Weekend
30 September and 1 October
Prescott Speed Hill Climb is another of Britain’s famous uphill race courses and finishes off its summer season with the American-themed Autumn Classic, on the weekend of 30 September.
The event, at the famous course near Cheltenham, in the Gloucestershire countryside, celebrates the USA’s biggest and brashest with a host American classics and hot rods joining other competition cars to race up the hillclimb.
There will also be music, food, drinks and entertainment, including the Demon Drome – the world’s oldest surviving wall of death.
The Saturday also sees rounds of the TVR and TR hillclimb championships, supported by saloons, sports cars and single-seaters driven by members of the Bugatti Owners’ Club.
Sunday sees competitive action from the 500 Owners’ Association, Morgans, Austin Healeys and Bentleys.
Advance tickets cost £15 each day or £25 for the weekend, prices on the gate are £20 and £35, respectively, and kids aged 14 and under are free with an adult. Visit www.prescott-hillclimb.com
Bicester Heritage has turned a former RAF base into a classic car business hub, its Sunday Scramble is sure to see a selection of modern classics cars dotted around the site, such as the Peugeot 205 GTI in the foreground and BMW 3 Series Convertible behind it Older classics like this Austin Healey and vintage cars will also be on display at Bicester
Sunday Scramble, Bicester Heritage
Bicester Heritage is a former RAF base on the outskirts of the Oxfordshire town that has been transformed into an inspiring hub for classic car businesses.
We visited Bicester Heritage last year for a tour round and to find out more about this brainchild of classic car fan and businessman Dan Geoghegan – and we’d heartily recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to visit it yourself.
The Sunday Scramble events provide an ideal opportunity to do so, with Bicester Heritage throwing open its gates to classic car owners and fans – and the businesses on the site opening their doors for visitors to have a look around.
The industrial glamour of the former RAF base in a parkland setting makes a fantastic backdrop to see the mix of cars that Bicester heritage encourages owners to park around the site and on the small track out back.
So, if you fancy seeing a blue Ferrari F40, sharing admiring glances with a 1960s Lola racer, and an interwar Alvis (while clutching a bacon sandwich and a coffee) this is your chance.
The Sunday Scramble on 1 October will be the last of the year, gates open at 9am and it closes at 12pm.
If you’ve got a pre-1990 classic car, advance discount tickets are £4 each (If you have a special car made later than 1990 that merits attending, contact Bicester Heritage). Adult advance tickets are £6. Tickets on the gate are £8 per person with children under 16 free with an adult ticketholder. Visit bicesterheritage.co.uk