Everything from Land Rovers to Lotii came out of the LA woodwork and parked on the lawn at Woodley Park in Van Nuys, California, Sunday — over 350 cars, trucks and motorcycles from Jolly Old.
“God Save Her Majesty,” we said to whomever would listen as we strolled about the show. “The sun never sets on the British Empire!”
It sets on Lucas electrics, of course, and we heard from at least one friend whose Lotus made it to within a mile of the park before, as they say, dying. It went home on a flatbed without ever making the show. How many sad stories were there Sunday morning? We shant know. Of that particular Lotus, Shakespeare may have forseen when he wrote, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage …”
The Rat-E Jaguar E-Type may have been our favorite
But let’s not dampen the spirits of this cheery annual gathering, and it was cheery. The onsite DJ blasted tunes from The British Invasion all day and there was tea available at one of the food carts. All that was missing was a visit from royalty. The Queen of the Queen’s English is Tina Van Curen, who, along with husband Chuck Forward and a British regiment of volunteers, puts on this show every year. This is the same group that puts on The Best of France and Italy in the same location every fall.
The cars at both shows are not necessarily concours quality, which is what makes this show so special. Drive whatever you think will make it to Van Nuys. There are no awards here and no judging, just bring what you could swing and do your thing, as they might have said in London in the swinging ’60s. Which allows cars as fantastically beat up as the Rat-E, an Jaguar E-Type convertible that made it to the show under its own power despite rust, dissolved paint and plastic trash bags for seat upholstery. It was magnificent.
There was a Reliant Robin, too, a Lotus 11, Sunbeam Tigers, Rollers, Rovers and MGAs galore. Jay Leno even brought a Bentley. This year, thanks to the drought-interrupting rain all winter, there was even green grass on the ground. The last several years have seen the cars of England parked not on a “hallowed plot” but on drought-induced dirt. But think not upon these trifles, a good car show is to be savored and cherished. As the Bard said, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
Cheerio chaps! Until next spring …