What a difference a recession makes… I thought it was but a couple of years since I last attended the Beaulieu International Autojumble, however a quick check reveals that it’s actually been five years. Yep, all the way back in 2009 when the country was in the midst of a lurid game of economic in-out-in-out hokey cokey.
The car park – straining at the seams – suggested that it might be a little busy, but it was nothing compared with the reality of pounding around the fields. It was heaving. There seemed to be more of everything – more stands, more cars for sale, more visitors. The reality though was that I have not seen the Beaulieu International Autojumble so busy before, which probably exaggerated the event’s scale via its sheer heaving-throng status.
Doubtless a healing economy has played its part, but possibly the real helping hand was the weather which saw summer make a most welcome, if unexpected, encore. The Saturday, in particular, served up a fat slice of sunshine which was hot, sultry and sweaty.
Aside from getting reacquainted with the Beaulieu International Autojumble, there were a few small bits and pieces I need to find for the Alfetta. Quickly though, it became obvious that if there was an NOS gearknob, switchgear blank and rear-view mirror – I really wasn’t going to find it in one day. An NOS MkII Cortina front door, yes, but nothing obviously Alfetta. So rather than sifting through piles of parts, with all the furrowed concentration and intensity of a grubby-fingered treasure hunt, I decided to kick back, saunter, observe and enjoy.
It was just as well given the many distractions – a ‘broad arrow’ Napier Lion 12-cylinder, drooling over a pile of beautifully crafted Bugatti parts, the one and only Healey Fiesta (amidst a score of tempting cars for sale) and a fascinating twin-cam cylinder head conversion for the MG XPAG.
Resisting the temptation to buy one of several ex-dealer Alfa Romeo signs for the garage – I’m convinced it would have flown off the roofrack like a giant free-spirited frisbee – instead we ended up chewing over the groundwork for Operation Missing Alfetta Bits: Plan B…
All in all, yes, visitor numbers appeared to be up – but crucially this hasn’t changed the friendly, laid back and genuinely enthusiastic atmosphere of the Beaulieu International Autojumble. An important point given the investment potential of the classic market appears to be introducing more and more society and corporate types to ‘our’ events – much to their detriment.
Now, does anyone know what the Italian is for ‘autojumble’…?