Oh So Retro


otentially closing a year of an excellent caliber of outdoor classic and retro car shows, the uncompromising weather almost ended the Oh So Retro with a soggy… erm, climax. Event organiser Lee Collier has built up a successful following guided by social media, effective branding and good old hard work. Oh So Retro’s following did not let the onslaught of the autumn ruin the biggest classic car show in Margate.

Oddly the incoming winds and occasionally shower added to the British holiday experience of battling the elements. Who hasn’t spent a week in a UK seaside resort in the pouring rain? Oh So Retro is now in its 6th year, held minutes off the beach at Margate Rec. The show, which included live music, awards and stalls attracted cars from not only the nearby continent but as far away as Cornwall and North Yorkshire. 

The show is split into sections, with club stands and individual entrants placed on each side of the field, with traders, food and showcases surrounding the perimeter. Certain marques dominate the show, with Ford, Mini, and VW, as well as Japanese cars offering a strong presence. Oh So Retro is very much a grassroots event, with friends and family helping Lee put the show together. This year’s event was particularly focused on mental health awareness issues, with the classic car being a great distraction from the troubles of the mind.

Minis are still just about within the budget of younger owners, with tastefully modified and standard examples being displayed over several club stands. The Daihatsu powered 1993 Mini was a very tidy conversion, combining Japanese reliability packaged in an iconic car. There was a neat opportunity to also observe the minimal difference between the later and earlier iterations of the car.

American cars have a loyal following in Kent – a legacy of the American air bases, but it’s not just the usual Corvettes or Mustangs that capture the imagination of the owners. This 1968 Oldsmobile and 1967 Dodge are well built expansive designs constructed before the constraints of regulations era.

Two of a handful of small Italian cars on display, this quick MK1 127 was a trendsetter when it first appeared in the early ’70s. The 126 is a different machine altogether, with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine but both were ideal for the rat runs of Turin.

Not just cars. It was nice to see a handful of French Camper vans, including the reasonably common Renault Trafic camper van and this delightful Peugeot J7. The engine and basic premise of the Peugeot were carried over to the more recent Talbot Express.

Margate, deckchairs and the eternal British optimism to enjoy themselves. Rain? No problem. We’ll bring our Beach buggy and a huge umbrella anyway!

Another car that has seemingly slipped off the radar of most buyers looking for solid and quick coupes. Owner Danny rates the late 80’s Audi Coupe as an under-rated classic. Later models are the ones to go for as the suspension had been revised and offered far better handling and ride.

The Turbo Renault club had a strong showing of their iconic 5’s and a brace of the now very rare 21. The 21 turbos were exceptionally quick and agile cars with a high level of specification. Savage deprecation and rust have made them something of a forgotten talent.

At the different end of the scale of the Turbos, this rare Renault 10 was a genuine surprise. All the work has been carried out by owner Shaun, who has retrofitted a bigger engine from an R12. Despite the W reg suffix, it is a 1970 car.

No argument here. This S2 Daimler Sovereign is was offered in this rare lavender-blue colour, one of several divisive hues offered on the XJ6 during the British Leyland years. The 3442cc was a small-bore version of the 4.2, not the same engine that was used in the XK120.

The Dagenham connection is strong in Margate, although production moved up to Merseyside halfway through its life. The Oh So Retro event brought out the best examples of Ford Anglias. This 1967 105E has been upgraded with the bigger 1.2-litre engine.

Incredibly popular in the modification scene, Volkswagen Polos make ideal starter classics; there’s a great social scene, they’re well-built and have plenty of options and influences for inspiration. Named after the nickname given to the MK2 Polos, the Breadvanclan displayed an impressive array of cars.

Plenty of opportunities to investigate the numerous self-built customs such as this Fiat 126 on to a shortened 1967 VW 1500, and this small block supercharged Rover V8 Ford Capri.

Andrews collection reflects his passion for Datsuns. He brought 8 of his fleet to the show, including two recently obtained Portuguese cars which as you can guess had to be trailered to the event.

The Z31 Nissan 300ZX is currently the cheapest option to owning a classic Z. Despite being a non-turbo model, they were quick, offered plenty of showroom appeal and make fine long-distance cruisers. Owner Chris has owned it for 7 years, states it has just 54,000 miles and is looking to pass it on.

Another rare collectible Japanese coupe, the Isuzu Piazza Turbo, has a surprising number of survivors in the UK.  It sat idle for 14 years, then owner Matt achieved a small miracle and hard graft to get it back on the road. One of our favourites of the show, and one of 20 cars given an award at the show.

A healthy number of Air-cooled Volkswagen’s were on display at the show, reflected the seaside’s connection with old VW’s. Original UK spec ovals and split-screen screens are reaching serious money, but it doesn’t stop their owners from enjoying them.

Investing in the Retro theme, the Sinclair C5 was on display on behalf of the Margate based C5Alive club, set up to restore, repair and modify Sir Clive Sinclair’s finest moment. A small but eclectic selection of vintage motorbikes was on display too.