The Warmth of Nostalgia – at the Sofiero Classic, Sunday 29 June

Henrik Wilhelmsson

I grew up around cars. As a trained mechanic, my father always knew the right thing to do and tried to pass it on to me in a way that perhaps we neglect with our own children these days. Weekly oil, water and tyre pressure checks have, if I’m honest, given way to a well-meant but unfulfilled intention to “do them at the weekend”. The old days of anxiously checking the temperature gauge seem to have disappeared along with embarrassing 1970’s phone calls from boyfriends, using the only phone in the house in front of the family at Sunday tea-time. My teenage children just don’t understand! 

Sunday’s Sofiero Classic brought back much of the 60’s and 70’s for me, forgotten memories rediscovered with a smile. However much I admire the dash of a modern Ferrari, the curves of the new Maclaren and the compact power of the latest Alfa, my heart was lost to the glamour of Americana and the beauty of a fine interior.  

The names alone are enough to conjure up sun-drenched West Coast days and every teen film with a handsome but flawed hero and trusting but vulnerable girlfriend. Who wouldn’t want to cruise the strip in a lavender-coloured Eldorado or a sapphire blue Studebaker? Thunderbirds and Stingrays…not just the names of favourite 1960’s TV shows, but gleaming, glorious beasts fashioned in crimson red and powder blue.  

However, it was the memories closer to home in southern England that crept up on me unexpectedly and brought a surge of warmth. The sight of a solid front seat wide enough for 3 people reminded me of family trips in my grandparents’ car where, as the eldest child, I might occasionally be lucky enough to sit between dad and grandad, suddenly elevated to a status far above my sister, mum and grandma sitting in the back.

Or the white 1973 MGB GT, the same model as the one bought that year by the lady up the road which impressed us so much as children. The Volkswagen Beetle, reminiscent of the tiny model cars in red and grey given to my sister and I because in the mid-1960’s, those were my dad’s company cars – and the thrill of anticipation to see whether an oncoming VW Beetle owner would flash the headlights or wave back to us!

The Sofiero Classic car show was a triumph (Herald?!) of pride and passion, colour and flair, speed and history. We’ll be back next year to listen to more stories from owners and gaze at the chrome bumpers. In only 2 week’s time we’ll be back for Bob Dylan – how lucky we are to have this beautiful venue on our doorstep!