Mirabelle Classic Cars

...cars for every occasion...

The Best Of British

Andrew Bywater tells of how he entered his Morris Minor in a local Classic Car show and won 1st prize!

"Fancy entering Mirabelle in this car show?" my wife Judith turned and handed me the local newspaper in which there was an article advertising a day of celebration to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee. It was to take place in the centre of Cannock on the 21st September, there were to be many events planned throughout the day called the "Best of British"; the main event was to be a classic car show and cavalcade. The only entry conditions being that the vehicles entering were manufactured during the 50 years of the Queen's reign and that they were British made.

"Why don't we enter both of the Morris's?" I replied, "we can put wedding ribbons on them for the parade through the town; it'd be good advertising for the wedding car hire." So it was that we entered both our white convertible "Mirabelle" and our black 2-door saloon "Maybelle" for the event. All we needed now was good weather, which as the event was planned for late September was by no means certain.

The day dawned bright, clear and warm, in fact the weather was perfect. We put the hood down on the convertible, and Judith dressed both cars with ribbons, (red, white and blue on Mirabelle); to complete the effect we mounted several union flags onto the cars.

We set off for High Green Court, a new shopping development in the centre of Cannock, where approximately 40 classic cars from the 5 decades of the Queen's reign were due to gather at 11 a.m. for judging. It was a great feeling as I drove through town hood down and flags flying, especially as the streets had been closed to general traffic.

Upon arriving at High Green Court we were directed to our places in the display, fortunately we were allowed to park the two minors together. It was a fantastic setting as the courtyard was ringed with covered walkways from which hung hanging baskets with flowers in full bloom. Over the P.A. system was played various James Bond music themes which added to the atmosphere as there must have been ten Aston Martins, being shown by one of the organisers Fred Pritchard. Other cars included a Lagonda, Jaguars, a Panther Callister and a convoy of MG's. I was glad that I had given our Morris's an extra polish in such illustrious company, for indeed the quality of the cars on display was very high. Informal judging was to be carried out by local dignitaries Lord and Lady Wolsley during the morning. The parade was due to start at 1 p.m. so we sat back and soaked up the autumn sunshine and were entertained by local musicians and street artists the morning flew by.

Shortly before 1 p.m. we were gathered for the results of the judging and to Judith and my great surprise Mirabelle won 1st prize! We could not believe it, with so many fine cars present but we were duly presented a handsome trophy by Lord Wolsley whilst being photographed by the local press. In fairness any one of a number of cars could have won but it was that the Morris Minor is a symbol of Britishness, instantly recognised by today's youth and produced for a large part of our Queen's 50 year reign. That and the fact that Mirabelle was dressed in red, white and blue made her the perfect choice for this occasion. And the day had only just started! The crowds withdrew to the perimeter of the square and in marched a brass band, their red tunics adding to the red, white and blue theme.

On time they marched off in the lead as the show-cars fell in number order behind them. Judith drove Mirabelle the winning car so that she also should have a taste of glory, I drove Maybelle, but even so I felt a sense of pride driving a Morris Minor in parade behind a full brass band the crowds of onlookers pushing closely either side of the cars as we entered the Market Square. I got a sense of how it must feel for the participants in the Lord Mayor's Parade in London. In due course I and my Minor arrived in front of a pavilion in which "John Bull" was doing a running commentary on the parade of cars.

Previously we had provided the organisers of the event a "potted" history of our vehicles which was read out over the tannoy as we paused in front of the pavilion. In due course moved off through the crowd, I could just make out Judith in Mirabelle two cars behind. I returned to the courtyard at High Green as the tail end cars were departing; once Judith had rejoined me we took a short-cut back to the cavalcade. We returned just as a string of Aston Martins passed through, in the narrow streets the roar of the engines sounded fantastic. The impression I gained from this was similar to a start of a rally stage. Finally after a flurry of Minis (it could have been a scene from the "Italian Job"), the cavalcade came to an end. All of the cars returned to the display area where the press took further photographs as the exhibitors basked in the warm sunshine and the admiring comments of the public.

At about 4 p.m. the cars began to disperse, as did I, back through the town the short distance to our home in Heath Hayes. After our return we had a cup of tea and removed ribbons and flags and generally tidied the cars after the days events. Following a bite to eat we resolved to return to Cannock to soak-up the atmosphere as there was live music in the town centre, to be followed by a firework display. This was to mark the end of our long and eventful day and was a spectacular affair, ending in an illuminated Royal coat of Arms.

Walking back to our car with our daughter, we recalled the day's events and how Cannock had "done itself proud." Also in our own success in the car show, and although gratefully received was just one aspect of an altogether fantastic day; all made possible by two little cars made forty or so years ago.

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