This weekend, vintage vehicles and their very proud owners will be gearing up for the event of the year: the Moffat Classic Car Rally (29-30 June).
Up to 1,000 classic cars are set to ride into the spa town of Moffat attracting enthusiasts from all over the UK. The Moffat Classic Car Rally, organised by the Scottish Rootes Enthusiasts, is now in its 22nd year and growing in popularity. Supported by Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council, the rally has had the same organising committee from day one headed by chairman Gordon Bisset. According to Gordon, who started the rally back in 1997: ‘So many people, from the Moffat community and its businesses to our financial sponsers, have wanted to see this event enjoy continued success.’
What’s so special about the Moffat Classic Car Rally?
It’s a big show, one of the largest in Scotland, certainly in the south of Scotland. There’s always a very wide and impressive selection of collectors’ cars, some rarely seen elsewhere. Most car rallies are static displays, which can be a bit boring for the participants and the public. But the beauty of the Moffat Classic Car Rally is the road run.
It’s all about the road run.
On Friday, the classic cars start arriving and assemble in a field on the edge of Moffat. Then on the Saturday around noon, they set off in groups of about 40 from the high street – with much cheering on by spectators – to St Mary’s Loch, a glorious spot here in Dumfries and Galloway. En route, the cars will pass by Megget and Talla reservoirs, then along the A701 – one of the top ten best roads to drive on in the UK – and back into Moffat. The direction is alternated each year. It’s a pleasant run but the steep inclines and descents can be a bit of a test for the older cars.
On the Sunday, there’s a chance for the rest of us to gaze in wonder at the cars up close and chat to the owners before prizes are awarded to the best in show. Don’t forget to check out the overflow field where late arrivals park up.
There’s also a good auto jumble with plenty of spares and odd bits and pieces to buy. Refreshments from ice creams to burgers and home baking are available too.
What cars can we expect?
As the Moffat Classic Car Rally is associated with the Scottish Rootes Enthusiasts, there is always a high proportion of interesting Humber, Sunbeam, Singer and Hillman vehicles – one year saw the largest group of Hillman Avenger Tigers spotted in a single gathering for a long time.
There are plenty of 1970s and 80s cars in excellent condition. Some have survived the years without any major restoration so you can see these cars pretty much as they were when they left the factory. A lot of restored cars are better now than when they first rolled off the production line.
The SD Rover from the mid-70s was the kind of car that was common in its day but not that common in the classic car world today. But there’s usually a good turnout in Moffat.
Watch out for the landcrab! The Austin-Morris 1800 earned its nickname because it was a big, inflated vehicle, wider and lower than other cars. The Austin-Morris 1100 is an exceptionally comfortable car – it has a particular suspension method designed by Alec Issigonis, who designed the Mini.
What about Scottish cars?
The Arrol-Johnston, made in the early 20th century, is particular to Scotland. Not many of these cars could have been made in the first place and there are very few left. It’s always a treat to spot the early model T Fords, which have a perculiar gear arrangement – you change gear with a pedal on the floor.
Which cars have the wow factor?
One year there was a just post-WWII Rover Saloon in imaculate condition. You don’t get many American cars but one superb example was a 1948 Buick – a standout car because of its sheer physical size and the chrome. You might even spot a genuine ex police car.
And it’s not just cars…
The Moffat Classic Car Rally also plays host to classic campervans with period interiors. These give a fascinating snapshot of how people used to live in the days when they took their ‘new-fangled motorhome’ on the road.
How do you take care of a classic car?
Constantly. Unlike modern vehicles, classic cars need more attention. They weren’t designed to be as maintenance-free as modern cars. The fact that they survived as long as they have is remarkable. These cars need constant greasing, constant attention. They need to be checked on every 1,000 miles – and be kept out of the rain. The ‘survivor’ cars get through without any major restoration but most classic cars have been through at least one.
All set to hit the road?
So motor on down to Moffat for some serious car worship and take a spin around Dumfries and Galloway’s sensational countryside.
A rally in pictures
Want to take a memento home? Jonathan Cosens Photography has some excellent archive shots of rallies gone by.
Plan your accommodation way in advance. Book direct for 2020’s rally or call 01683 478341.
Read more about the Classic Car Rally.
For other events in Moffat, go to Visit Moffat.
Read more Queensberry House blogs.