Moving the Flanders Collection Car forward from its usual date in February might not seem like the obvious way to attract classic cars out of winter hibernation but it at least no longer clashed with rival events. The Gent Expo is ideally situated too, quite literally on a motorway crossroads and so making it easy to access for visitors from the Netherlands, Luxembourg and northern France as well as Belgium.
Organiser Hans Stevens has worked wonders since taking charge a couple of years ago, moving it on from what was a fairly dowdy, not terribly well supported affair. Now the show is a vibrant, well-presented event with more clubs, dealers and private vendors present.
Featured marque was Aston Martin with a display of about a dozen cars ranging from a 1930 Lagonda 2-Litre that had been a works Monte Carlo Rally entry, gorgeous examples of both DB2 Vantage and DB4 GT Zagato, through to the latest models. Alongside all the highly polished cars was a restoration project with a set of DB6 panels mocked-up on a frame, alongside a bare chassis.
Nowhere near that stage in the restoration process was the barn find Facel Vega to be found elsewhere in the show. The well-rusted bodyshell represents a big bill for somebody and in truth if it was a lesser car you probably wouldn’t bother. More modest classics can justify the effort however, as displayed by the VW Beetle chassis on Decan Power’s stand. Almost seemed a shame to cover it up!
Americana has always had a strong following in Belgium and much of the show was dominated by Detroit iron, with a particular emphasis on 1930s cars. Particularly eye-catching was the stand of local dealers Oldtimerfarm where the likes of Chrysler Royal Woody and Studebaker President vied for attention with European counterparts such as Talbot Suresnes and Delage D6.70. However, it was a rarity from England that was grabbing much of the attention. Priced at €19,950, its 1935 Railton Eight Cobham Saloon had found a new owner by Sunday lunchtime.
Indeed, worries over the economy did not seem to be having too much of an impact with several of the private sale cars sporting ‘sold’ stickers; on offer was everything from an Autobianchi to Ford Thunderbird but British classics were most numerous here with MG, Jaguar and Triumph well represented. For example, €7500 would’ve bought you an ’89 V12 XJ-S, or alternatively one of a pair of Saab 900i Convertibles.
Will values for the Swedish marque climb now that the marque is extinct?
British sports cars have a worldwide following, none more so than the evergreen MGB as it celebrates its 50th, so inevitably there were pristine examples to be found but particularly outstanding were the pair of replica ’79 Sebring B GTs on offer from Edy D’Hoe. On the same stand a beautifully restored black Triumph TR3 was attracting much interest.
Land Rover has a strong following too, but did you know they were built under licence by Minerva? No, I didn’t either, but proof was provided by a display of three in Belgian military colours, one of them curiously sporting an AA badge.
The Americana theme was not restricted to cars, but carrying over into the busy autojumble where old petrol pumps and juke boxes were amongst the items on offer. Even the various model dealers were well-stocked with miniature customised Chevys and the like. If the autojumble catered for most needs it was as nothing compared with the adverts taped to the wall, where you could find everything from a Morgan Aeromax to a Chihuahua puppy!
Yes, Flanders Collection Car was a great way to get the year off to a start