There are the big shows around the world that most of us pine to attend every year: Tokyo Auto Salon, Autosport International, Geneva Motor Show, SEMA, the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival to name just some of the highlights on our calendar.

However, there is one show every year which is far more important than any of the aforementioned. It has no set date, no set location and no set name. In fact, it varies wherever you might be in the world. This is simply because the most important car show which happens every year, just happens to be your local car show.

While the big-name events attract all of the attention, it’s your local car show that serves as the base of the car community in your area. These small, humble shows the world over are the foundation of car culture.

If these were to suddenly cease, you would ultimately see real car culture vanish from existence. It might seem like a hyperbolic statement, but it’s true, and let me explain why I think this is the case.

Cars don’t exist on the internet, they only exist in the real world, with real people. The internet just happens to serve as a superb database of information, photographs, resources, stories, communities and the odd bit of vitriol (which is strangely absent in the real world).

The kind of cars that are critical to car culture are created and cared for by human beings which we all share so much with. We’re a relatively small community in the grand scale of things, so it’s important that we stick together, regardless of our different tastes in automotive matters.

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Your local car show is that rare opportunity to go to one place and see what’s really hiding in your area, and to meet and talk to your fellow enthusiasts; your brothers and sisters in arms. This is a brief story from my local car show, which took place at Terenure College in Dublin, earlier this summer.

It just happened that this was the same weekend where I was pedalling ‘Kermit‘ around the city streets and mountain roads of Dublin itself.

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The annual Irish Classic & Vintage Motor Show (to give it its proper title) held its 28th event back in July. While its name might conjure images of rows upon rows of impeccably presented, but perhaps slightly mundane vintage cars, the organisers welcome more modern and modified machinery, too.

There are many local and national car clubs in attendance, so you get a curious variety that you won’t necessarily see elsewhere on this island. For 2019, I chose to leave the GTI at home (mostly because I didn’t want to wash it, and Kermit was clean-ish) and follow my father through the gate in his 1974 Ford Escort 1300E. Actually, he might have followed me, but that doesn’t matter as it would be his 16th consecutive year making the 200-mile round trip in his beloved blue oval.

I’ve never had the courage to ask him which he loves more, the car or me, as I fear I might not like the answer…

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Upon parking, and after giving both cars a wipe over with quick detailers, the first surprise of the day gently arrived onto the grass behind us in the ‘No Club’ section. The burble of a flat-four with an unequal-length exhaust manifold is as distinct as they come – I just wasn’t expecting it to be a unicorn of sorts.

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I had to do a double take, as it’s been forever since I last saw one, but yes, it was a genuine Subaru Impreza 22B. My favorite part of this car, asides from the subtle modifications, was that it looked used, and in the best kind of way.

What I did find fascinating is that there was a dedicated Subaru Owners Club (the much respected ISDC), but this owner was happy to do his own thing, at his own pace. Some people just want to keep themselves and their cars to themselves, which I wholly respect. It’s quite a privilege to have a passion like this in your life, because not everyone does.

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For every surprise there are always the old faithfuls.

This Cadillac Coupe de Ville has been attending the Irish Classic & Vintage Motor Show for at least the last 10 years, and every time I see it, it brings me to a complete standstill. It’s such a stunning design, and a beyond rare sight in Ireland where we don’t have a huge vintage US car scene. I wince at the thought of trying to navigate this left-hand drive land yacht around Dublin’s narrow city streets, but damn would it be worth it.

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Terenure College is a pretty large open space, where the cars are confined to one area. It can be easy to accidentally overlook a row or stand because you didn’t walk through a certain way as it can all start to look a bit familiar, but when you really open your eyes there are always some real gems to uncover.

I did get a chuckle out of someone commenting that they had never seen a white ‘Back To The Future’ car before…

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I’m sure some would have been delighted to point out this case of mistaken identity, and for certain they would have been crucified on the internet for mistaking a BMW M1 for a DMC DeLorean, but any non-car person taking an interest in cars is something that should be welcomed.

Despite what some might think, we’re not all perfect.

Can you tell the difference between a Phase 1 and Phase 2 Peugeot 205 GTi? Do you know the differences in trim between an early and late G-Body Porsche 911? Can you recall off-hand the factory sizes and offsets for the wheels on a Hillman Imp? Information which might be matter of fact to some, has never even entered the mind of another.

This is what I love about local car shows. You can ask ‘stupid’ questions, and rather than mocking you, an owner will only be delighted to share what they know and what they’ve learned. There’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the things we claim to love.

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I’d wager there probably were not a lot of people on the organising committee who could tell you much about this R34 GT-R, but the reaction to it all day was priceless. You should have seen people’s eyes lighting up when they spotted it, and how long some chose to stand before it and just stare.

It was f**king awesome to see the impact it had on people. You would hope that with the amount of young kids who were captivated by it, some will surely become fully-fledged petrol-heads themselves in the future, and all because the owner thought, ‘Hey, I might take a spin down to Terenure today.’

The simplest of actions with the most brilliant of outcomes.

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There were lots of little anecdotes like this, and similarly there must have been thousands upon thousands of interactions between enthusiasts all day, which will no doubt have inspired the beginnings of countless positive automotive adventures for many.

I don’t think it’s possible to leave a good car show without a smile on your face; it certainly should stoke the fire inside you to do more exciting car things.

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Eventually, it was time to go, but not before taking the long way home.

While they might not have the glamour of the big shows held at huge convention centres, or the impressive manufacturer stands, your local car show is a real chance to see what’s happening in your own backyard. It’s an opportunity to engage with local car people and potentially put the wheels in motion on new friendships, projects or adventures.

Cars without people are nothing, and you can’t drive a car on the internet. Go and support your local car show.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos
paddy@speedhunters.com



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