Dover Transport Museum Classic Car show

Kent & East Sussex
7 July 2019

Well this weekend saw me dispatched to The Dover Transport Museum Classic Car Show and in effect this was a recce for one of next year’s suggested AROCKES club outings to new shows and locations. I would have liked to have taken my newly acquired Series 4 Spider to fit in with all the other exhibiting vehicles but it was still in storage and waiting to be located to its new garage at home. So having been accepted for the show as a club vehicle earlier in the year (as all members are at most classic shows) I set off and arrived in the MiTo to the Museum and I was not going to be disappointed – what a fantastic venue!

Dover Transport Museum is set in two acres and has two large buildings containing over fifty historic vehicles, with many set in historic street scenes with shops containing period vehicles and artefacts of life from a generation or two ago. Many displays are unique, such as the MG in the recreated garage workshop. There is an extensive working model railway, fantastic model boat and car displays as well as many period exhibits from WW1 to the present day. There is also a really well positioned cafe overlooking the main museum display. When you bear in mind that this outstanding museum, with exhibitions of everything relating to transport in the Kent area, is completely staffed by volunteers, then it really puts to shame other transport expos, such as the Beaulieu National Motor Museum, in my opinion. It’s simply streaks ahead of its contemporaries in regards to innovation of display and content.

For instance, there is a MG TA 1938 sports car located in a period garage which is one of three thousand produced up until 1939. Although slightly under powered in comparison to later models, such as the TB & TC series, it was the forerunner to the MGB, becoming one of the best selling sports cars of all time. The MG, shown below, was donated to the museum in 2009 having spent 15 years under a tarpaulin in a garden locally. It is – I am relieved to say – destined for a complete restoration, as quite rightly it should be.

One of the most innovative displays was the recreation of a local motorcycle shop, “J. Pursy Motorcycles,” which featured some really historic machines – and it really begged you to wander in and have a “browse.”

One machine that really took my eye was a trials bike. It was one of a very limited number of production Norman Trials bikes made in the Beaver Road factory in Ashford in 1960 and was one of the last made there.

In the main display arena was a 1970 Morris Minor “Panda Car” which was used to replace the ever hard worked “Bobby on the beat” as cuts made it ever harder to police ever increasing patrol areas. Some things never change.

The main arena display area is overlooked by the museum’s cafe staffed by friendly volunteers that put other museums to shame in terms of price and sheer friendliness. You can see to the centre right of the below photo a 1948 MG TC 1250 cc that was produced up until 1955. This MG was fully restored in 1983 and is on extensive loan by Barretts of Canterbury and should be considered in contrast to the derelict MG TA mentioned earlier.

Wandering outside, I came across a real gem, a 1936 Morris 8 that was totally rebuilt by one of the volunteers, John Davis, and represents one of the makeshift  ARP vehicles that were often commandeered from private owners during  WWII  in the local Dover area. They were often seen with water pumps, ladders and other fire fighting equipment.

The display outside lived up to every expectation of a classic car show and around 120 restored and active classics were displayed. I could list numerous examples, but the absolute vehicle that caught my eye was a Delorean, dated from about 1983, owned and exhibited by Max Kelk, who lives locally in Kent. He located the vehicle in California and paid about £20,000, having confirmed the purchase after a lot of research from a distance, and picked the vehicle up from Felixstowe about six weeks later. Delorean had a very interesting history putting early builds out far before they were ready due to the company needing cash flow and later, Delorean himself, being “stung” by the FBI for dealing in cocaine to raise funds for the company. Although later acquitted, the effect was to cause a one-of-a-kind ethical vehicle, whose body is made totally of stainless steel. The featured vehicle, being probably one of the best that the company produced, was 36 years old and featured a K Jet-tronic ignition, 2.8 litre PRV engine (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) built in the Renault factory in France and also featured a Renault gear box. The Italian connection is, of course, that the 1970’s styling of the vehicle body was by De-Jaro one of Bertoni’s “people” who had produced some of the most iconic Alfa designs.

Despite feeling that the well known gull wing doors needed a ton of space, Max demonstrated that only 11” was needed so well suited to a normal garage. The vehicle itself was one of the last 60 vehicles ever built by Delorean, of which there are around 6,000 left worldwide. It was an impressive vehicle!

There were, of course, equally memorable cars on display such as a totally restored RS 2000.

And something that got a lot of attention, and fooled many of us until a Morris 1000 owner put me right, was a Jaguar kit car. Although not a classic, it was still very attention grabbing and sheer eye candy.

As car shows go, this was pretty much one of the most intimate and best. I would totally endorse club attendance. In my view, the variety of displays and the friendliness of all the volunteers make this museum what it is. Importantly, bacon baps were only £2 each and contained more rashers than should be allowed by law! A refreshing change from the quality and much higher prices experienced at most other car shows I have been to. I could tell you more about the facilities and other displays…. but that would spoil the surprise.

Next week is The Classic Music and Motors series at Whitstable. I still don’t think that any of my frantic activity will see the Spider ready for then but the section will be attending in numbers and the show has been sold out. If you want to attend, contact Jeff Kaby – there possibly could be the odd space or two free.

Till next week, Ciao.

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