by Peter Lockley
Coventry MotoFest first took place at the end of May 2014 and there has been a festival every year since then, nowadays usually on the first weekend in June. Sadly that for 2020 was of necessity online.
It is an occasion particularly fitting for Coventry which is the home of the British Motor Industry. Of the well over 100 marques that had factories there, several former household names stand out, notably, our own Standard marque, which by the 1950s was Coventry’s biggest employer and also by then, encompassed Triumph and also built Ferguson tractors. Other famous old names were Humber, Singer, Hillman, Alvis, Armstrong Siddeley, Daimler, Lanchester, Rover and even Morris Engines and a body plant which built bodies for the well-known half-timbered Traveller. Marques still active in Coventry are one of the MotoFest sponsors, Jaguar (JLR), which still has its HQ in Coventry and a heritage operation at nearby Ryton along with LTI, the manufacturer of the famous London taxi, now part of the Chinese Geely Group, based at a brand new plant at Ansty just outside the city. MotoFest takes over much of the city centre and ring road with classic car displays at many locations including at the city’s Transport Museum. From the start, there has been demonstration motorsport runs on the closed-off part of the ring road and since 2018, actual motorsport of both modern and classic cars in the various races. There are also displays of music and culture, modern car dealers showing their cars, children’s rides, food and drinks stalls and everything you’d expect of such an event, rounded off by a parade of classics around the closed-off part of the ring road. The Standard Motor Club’s part of the event is a comprehensive display of our vehicles from the West Midlands and other Groups at a location tailor-made for us outside the Flying Standard, a Wetherspoons pub so named at the suggestion of our Standard Car Review editor SteveO’Hara, situated very centrally at the top of Trinity Street. The pub does a very good breakfast and often sells MotoFest Multigrade Ale brewed by Coventry’s own Byatt’s Brewery. Coventry folk always show an interest in our vehicles and often old Standard employees delight in talking about the old days at Canley. They have a fund of stories and one recently answered the question of why in the 1960s some 6cwt and 7 cwt vans had 8 and 10 front wings and others the Pennant type, especially the very last few to be built. The answer was that if there were no Pennant wings readily available and as a batch of 8 and 10 ones turned up, they were used instead.
Coventry has a large multicultural population and more than once, I’ve encountered people from the Indian sub-continent who knew of Standard Motor Products of India who had a plant in Madras (now Chennai), which built 8s and 10s, Standard Heralds, Standard 20 vans based on the Atlas and even a Rover SD1 based Standard 2000 into the early 90s. The last word must however go to the lady who asked me why we were displaying outside the Flying Standard whilst I was standing next to a blue 1939 Flying 8. I asked her to take a look at the pub sign displaying an identical car. MotoFest is well worth a visit but be warned – there is a lot of walking involved to see everything. Please email me at email@example.com if you wish to display your car on the Club stand. Peter Lockley February 2021
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