You might think this would be easy. Wait until the grounds of the Impney Estate were filled with as many of the 1000 classic and modern classic cars we invited to our biggest-ever Coffee & Chrome Collective meet, grab a hot coffee from one of the five vendors set up on site and walk in the sunshine – notebook in hand – choosing the very best of the vehicles on display.
Nope, it wasn’t easy. In part because the turnout was so good but also because the standard was so high. Plus, members of our new collective come from every corner of classic car culture – from fans of compact hot hatches to massive American muscle and everything in between – so there's a huge variety to sift through. But there have to be winners…
Our criteria here is not scientific; really this isn’t concours at all because it’s not about condition or originality, it’s just about execution or a feeling you get from something you might not have seen before. Perfection is not an absolute requirement.
Although with our first contender it might as well have been. This modified Mk1 Golf was beautifully executed with period Recaros, a minimalist engine bay (filled with 16-valve conversion) and immaculate paint. It was the right amount of low and sat on tasteful alloys. Yes, we’ve seen the small bumper conversion time and again but, as always, with the single lamps up front it delivers a brilliantly simple aesthetic.
Next up was possibly our favourite. This Renault Dauphine in perfect period palette sat low on staggered split rims and was flawless down to every detail. The interior from perforated buckets to deep dish wood rim wheel was thoughtfully presented but the best effort of all was saved for what lay beneath the engine cover. We waited for a while to get a peek but the flat-four Subaru powerplant that greeted us was worth the bided time.
The Mini Clubman you see in the gallery below caught our eye. With its bonnet raised you could see a whopping pair of Webers on the wrong side of the head – usually the A-series sports an SU on the rear of the engine on the same side as the exhaust. This led us on a trail of period details from patterned and piped cloth Cobra seats to Revolutions tucked under carbon wheel arches. A real credit to its owner.
The Le Mans-liveried MX-5 was one of the first cars to arrive as we set up shop for the day. Hard to miss in its distinctive orange and green paint, once parked up a closer inspection didn’t disappoint – from a BBR turbo motor to a boot full of books and documentation.
Finally, a special mention for a car with a more standard spec. This black 106 Rallye was drawing crowds every time we walked past, with a surprising number of overheard conversation snippets discussing previous ownership of similar cars. The show wasn’t short of French hot hatches, including a few 205 GTis and a RenaultSport Clio V6, but this little Rallye was by a nose our favourite.
So what happens for the winners? We’ll be reaching out via email with a little surprise for each of the owners – a precedent we are happy to set for future shows. We’ll share more details on how Coffee & Concours will develop as our calendar of meets progresses (spoiler alert: it will include some well known judges), but do reach out on social media if you have ideas to contribute. Coffee & Chrome Collective belongs to its members as much as anyone and your voice is important.
For now, though, just take in the pics below – and if you own one of these cars, congratulations. It’s a credit to you and, by extension, our growing collective. See more about the Coffee & Chrome Collective here.