Sunday, 16 December 2018

Vintage quirky cars reign supreme at Hampton Court flower show

NOSTALGIA was the name of the game as far as cars were concerned at last week’s Hampton Court Flower Show.

NOSTALGIA was the name of the game as far as cars were concerned at last week’s Hampton Court Flower Show.

We have been going to the show for some years now and you could usually guarantee that one or two car manufacturers would find the time and inclination to show off their green credentials. Certainly they have been to the forefront at past shows. Last year, Renault had a good green presence with its all-electric Twizy car.

After all, this famous event is the world’s largest flower show and attracts thousands of people during its five-day existence.

Some two million people each year visit a Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) garden or show. I do not profess to understand the significance of these things but all age groups, it seems, like gardening — more than 28,000 Facebook users said they liked the RHS write-ups on the London show.

So with all this interest I was a little surprised this year to see no carmaker making their presence felt. Instead, I found cars that were used presumably to prod visitors’ liking for nostalgia. On one stand, there was the full trip-down-memory lane — a Trojan “bubble car” stood before the now essential-for-any-nostalgia-exhibition red telephone box. The Trojan was an oddity as I recall but quite popular. The Trojan 200 was the last vehicle to bear the Trojan name of a car company that started out in the early 1900s.

The Volkswagen Pick-up that unashamedly reverted to full flower power at the Hampton Court show was the showpiece of a Dutch company Florist Holland that supplies Gerbera seeds and young plants to more than 80 different countries. Gerberas are part of the sunflower family of plants. Actually, the flower show has some antecedents when it comes to transport.

It was not founded by the RHS: it was created by Historic Royal Palaces and Network Southeast, and first held in 1990.

In 1992 Network Southeast announced that it was withdrawing its subsidy, and the RHS was the successful bidder to take the show over. The first RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was held in 1993, and from there it went on to become the world’s biggest.

We have no indigenous motor show any longer which is a shame.

But carmakers obviously feel while it is worthwhile exhibiting at Paris, Geneva or Frankfurt, Britain with its long history of motor manufacture is a no-go area.

Perhaps next year with the drive towards new power sources for cars continuing apace, we will see the likes of Renault and Mitsubishi to name a few and others back at the Hampton Court Flower Show. I hope so.

By Nigel Wigmore

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