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“Few countries do car shows as well as Britain”

Mike Rutherford thinks Britain is the number one nation for wonderfully diverse motoring occasions

Opinion - Goodwood

Britain, the greatest place on Earth? Don’t be daft. True, outgoing PM Boris Johnson said as much – but then this is a man who’s long had a troubled and imaginative relationship with the truth.  

In the years he performed his tragically comedic, panto-like Prime Minister impersonations, he also played his part in not making Britain the greatest. But plenty of other people and negative factors – from iffy fellow politicians to badly broken road and public transport ‘systems’ – have also held us back. 

Other major problems – the crumbling economy, ongoing environmental and energy crises, imploding NHS, housing woes, policing issues, continued social injustice, lousy infrastructure, poor industrial relations and output – are guilty as charged, too.

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Our ‘clean, green, pleasant land’ label is in danger of being downgraded to ‘dirty, brown, unpleasant’ status. And the recent £90million fine dumped on Southern Water for dumping sewage into ‘protected’ seas and rivers proves that our waters may be even filthier than the ground we walk over.

That said, we’re still very good at some things in GB. And thanks to our bright, warm summer months, few countries do motor car-related events as well as Blighty. Arguably we’re the No.1 nation for wonderfully diverse motoring occasions.

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There are no finer upmarket examples of our world-beating uniqueness than non-stop Goodwood gatherings, closely followed by increasingly busy Beaulieu bashes (happy 50th Birthday to its National Motor Museum, by the way). Meanwhile, Silverstone’s Grand Prix just delivered the finest and most dramatic Formula One race of the year, helped along nicely by Britain’s globally famous, race-enhancing summer showers!

This month in Poole, Dorset, its Quay For My Car (geddit?) time, Lincolnshire’s eerie Festival of the Unexceptional and other strange gems. Come September, wealthier car nuts will do Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, where admission costs up to £460pp!

For the less affluent, the Auto Ego Car Show and Carry on Campout bash near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, sounds like a bonkers but affordable blast for happy campers who pay £25 for a two-night stay in a motorhome, van, car or tent parked at the showground. And for the penniless, there’s the lovely-sounding Wadswick Green Classic and Sports Car Show. Admission’s free, but it’s only open from 10am-2pm. And one or two of those four hours surely have to be reserved for a leisurely al fresco lunch. So this might just be the world’s shortest car exhibition. How quintessentially British is that?

Before then, the British Motor Show arrives from 18-21 August at the Farnborough International Exhibition Centre, with a little help from official supporter Auto Express. This is more than just a car show. It boasts countless moving vehicles, stunts, TV stars, careers info, passenger rides and even opportunities for supervised kids to drive themselves.

Honestly, an adult day ticket at just £18.50 (the price of a couple of gallons) for THE British Motor Show has ‘bargain of the automotive year’ written all over it.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know in the comments section below...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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