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Monday, 7 September 2015

Ormskirk MotorFest - how hard can it be judging a concours?

SIMON Cowell has it easy on The X Factor. At least he gets some easy dud entrants to kick out of the proceedings on his annual – and inevitable – pop juggernaut as it thunders towards the Christmas number one.

I reckon I got assigned a far trickier task at this year's Ormskirk MotorFest. One that involved making some even tougher choices, even if it didn’t involve breaking the dreams of any teenage girls desperate to be the next Pixie Lott.

At this year's event I got given the task of judging the classic cars entered into the event’s new Concours D’Elegance – a sort of automotive Crufts for people who pamper and polish their pride and joy rather than using it for late night jaunts to the nearest 24-hour supermarket for some scones and a bottle of washing up liquid.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only showgoer who spotted the irony – someone who owns a slightly shabby MGB and this year entered the MotorFest in a Range Rover that still needs a bit of bodywork attention was being asked to judge cars on their tidiness.

Happily, my co-judge was motorsport historian (and MotorFest commentator) Neville Hay. You’d like Neville – not only has he got a wicked sense of humour and is never short of an anecdote, but he’s probably forgotten more about old cars than I’ve learned. Yet the task was still unenviable. If every car in a field is in wonderful condition and has been doted on by its owner for years on end, how on earth do you go about picking a winner?

We both agreed a mission statement - in the same way a Crufts prizewinner that doesn’t get to go out digging holes and chasing sticks isn’t really on, we wanted to avoid the show queens that get trailered to events and give the prize to a nice car owned by someone who enjoys it in the real world.

Even then, we ended up picking nits to separate the truly brilliant cars from the merely great ones, docking points off for the sort of scuffs most motorists don’t give a stuff about. In the end a single point split the winner from the car that came second – it really was that close.

It really ought to have been a bit like a primary school sports day where everybody won a prize, but in the end we gave it to Graham Postlethwaite’s virtually immaculate Rover P5B Coupé. Even in a contest packed with prizeworthy motors it was a deserving winner.

The cheque should land on my doormat by Friday. Only joking…

Read more about the Ormskirk MotorFest in this week's issue of Classic Car Weekly - published 9 September 2015.

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