Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

| 26 Dec 2020
Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

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It has been an annus horribilis for most of us, but our classics have still given us plenty of highs among the lockdown lows. Here are the C&SC team’s ‘best of 2020’ picks.


Alastair Clements, Editor in chief

Car of the year

I was intrigued from the moment I saw Goodyear’s press images of the Golden Sahara II (which starred in our February 2020 issue), but nothing prepared me for Olgun Kordal’s amazing photos and Greg MacLeman’s fascinating story on this uniquely illuminating custom. I just wish I’d had the chance to see it in the metal.

Best drive

The planets aligned for our Mazda centenary celebration: lockdown lifted enough for me to get on a plane, the sun came out in rural Germany, and the gorgeous R130 Luce (below) was repaired in time for me to get a day in a car I’ve always wanted to tick off my bucket list (read more in our December 2020 issue). 

Best event

I suspect the term ‘normal’ will be recalibrated from now on, but the wonderful Concours of Elegance was as close as we got to it in 2020 – and the way it kept its standards so high in these unprecedented times was remarkable.

New Year’s resolution

To get my Suzuki back on its wheels and back on the road in time to join the C&SC Reader Run for the rescheduled Le Mans Classic in July. Its postponement has only served to increase the sense of anticipation for my favourite classic event.

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Lizzie Pope, Associate editor

Car of the year

We work on so many great stories, but for me it was the Mercedes-Benz 300SL rescued from Cuba (below). The tale of it being painstakingly stripped and shipped out the country, piece by piece, as told in our October 2020 magazine, was incredible.

Best drive

In a year during which my Mustang was laid up for months, mine came from behind the wheel of my 13-year-old modern classic. When your freedom to roam is curtailed, roof down in a Mazda MX-5 is even more of a treat.

Best event

It has to be Goodwood SpeedWeek – and, like 99.99% of people, I was watching from home rather than trackside. Predictably, I thought the rally stage addition – especially the after-dark action – was a highlight. Popping, banging, sliding and doughnuts – what’s not to love?

New Year’s resolution

I’m afraid it’s the same as last year: to get back out on a historic rally. And, like the year before, I had entries planned but, well, we all know what happened…

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Martin Buckley, Senior contributor

Car of the year

Among all of the one-offs that came along this year – such as the Daimler SP252 (in our July magazine) and the Frua Jaguar S-type (November 2020) – as much as any other I was taken by the rare but by no means unique Triumph 2.5 PI estate I drove for the June issue.

Best drive

Nothing particularly sticks out except the general joy of the 1950s levels of traffic to be found during ‘lockdown 1’. 

Best event

It has to be the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club Southern Region meeting (below)… not least because it’s just about the only event I went to!

New Year’s resolution

To keep the momentum going behind the restoration of my newly acquired Lancia Flaminia saloon

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Jack Phillips, Deputy editor

Car of the year

The Le Mans DB HBR4 ‘Monstre’ (for our February 2020 issue, pictured below) was strange, with an interesting story of racing for Index honours in 1961: a great combination.

Best drive

This includes three cars, two days and two countries. To Hethel to collect the brilliant Lotus Evora (October 2020 issue); to Cirencester the following day to Mitsubishi; to Wales in the Evo X, and back in the incredible Evo VI (which you can read in our January 2021 magazine); then home to London in the Evora. And it didn’t rain. 

Best event

Perhaps it was the timing at the end of the first lockdown, but the Secret Cinema screening of Rush at Goodwood. Sitting watching and eating in the car with my partner and daughter, after the first proper drive to go somewhere for fun and alongside classics of all sorts, was a joy.

New Year’s resolution

One thing, two trips. The ‘thing’: do what we bought the car for, and drive far away on long road runs. Related, the two trips: waft up to the Highlands again, and to Le Mans. Again. Maybe twice.

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Damon Cogman, Art editor

Car of the year

Our July cover star Alfa Romeo T33 Stradale (below): almost definitely the sexiest car to ever caress an autostrada. Resplendent in its unique blue, its swooping curves tightly hug an equally bellissima quad-cam V8. Franco Scaglione’s masterpiece.

Best drive

When Bentley asked if anyone would like to jump aboard the new Flying Spur W12 Mulliner, I couldn’t put my hand up fast enough. Good job I did, because it was the most thrillingly fast, reassuringly expensive and unbelievably brilliant car I’ve ever driven.

Best event

Retro Classics Stuttgart. Quality and quantity in spades, with 10 halls and 4000 mainly German cars – plenty to keep the Teutonic fan in me very happy indeed. 

New Year’s resolution

After learning a few new skills while restoring my Volkswagen Type 3 fastback over the past year, I quite fancy finding out how to do upholstery properly next. Mainly because I spent all of my budget on replacing the rusty bits, so the challenge of smartening up the interior is next on the list of ‘affordable’ jobs…

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Simon Taylor, Editor at large

Car of the year

I drove absolutely nothing new in 2020, but at Hampton Court’s Concours of Elegance I adored the delicate 1924 Bamford & Martin Cloverleaf, the world’s fifth-oldest Aston (below). I’d much rather have that than a Valkyrie.

Best drive

Taking my AC Ace 2.6 – plus wife and picnic hamper – across the Berkshire Downs in the sunshine on my birthday.

Best event

Helping to judge the Concours Virtual: some 240 top-drawer entries from all over the world, renowned judges from Pebble Beach to Salon Privé, and an amazing 1.4 million spectators online and on social media. 

New Year’s resolution

Get the vaccine; get back on the hills.

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Greg MacLeman, Features editor

Car of the year

I was fortunate enough to spend a day with So-Cal Speed Shop’s Belly Tank Lakester at the Petersen Museum, and I was captivated by both the endeavour of the young men who built it on a shoestring, and the quality and attention to detail of owner Bruce Meyer’s exacting restoration of this Bonneville legend. Chatting with Alex Xydias was the icing on the cake, and this featured in our November 2020 issue (and it is pictured below).

Best drive

Dream drives were thin on the ground, but my trip through Palm Springs in Chris Menrad’s Lincoln Continental (featured in our June 2020 issue) was one to remember. I fell in love with the car and the setting, wafting along palm-lined avenues in a crown jewel from the height of US car design. It was wonderful to live the American Dream, even if only for an afternoon.

Best event

Internet-phobia set in fairly early for me after a wave of Zoom catch-ups and quizzes, so virtual events just aren’t my thing. Fortunately the odd live event did take place, and the best I attended was held at Bicester Heritage to celebrate 100 years of Alvis (in our November issue): just the tonic.

New Year’s resolution

After last year’s resolution to take more road trips, followed shortly thereafter by the cancellation of an epic three-week tour of Spain with my wife, Laura, I’m concerned about tempting fate. So I’d like to commit to having the Triumph’s cabin as clear of clutter as possible. It’s a small step, but it’s amazing how a clean and tidy interior can add to your enjoyment of a classic.

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Mick Walsh, International editor

Car of the year

Plans to drive the fabulous Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale in Austria were abandoned, but studio pictures of the only blue example – chassis 111, built for Count Agusta – confirmed what a great restoration job Egon Zweimüller’s team had delivered (check it out in our July 2020 issue).

Best drive

Finally getting behind the wheel of the famous Alfa 8C chassis 2211130, on a private day at Prescott, was heaven on wheels (below).

Best event

A glorious weekend at Hampton Court for the Concours of Elegance, among amazing cars and meeting friends after a long break, was a blissful – if too brief – return to normality. Capping the visit was the remarkable Gooding & Co auction with the Hubert Fabri collection displayed in the famous Tudor West Court. 

New Year’s resolution

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of my greatest motoring experience, La Carrera Panamericana, with another road trip alongside my pal Julian Balme in the wonderful 1954 Lincoln ‘Wooly Bully’ is a must.

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights

Julian Balme, Senior contributor

Car of the year

The Ford V8 Modified of Chris Rawlins at the London Concours ticked a lot of boxes for me (below). Simple yet beautifully put together, with the right period parts. An honourable mention must also go to Gregor Fisken and David Brazell’s restoration of HWM 1, too.

Best drive

I was only in it for three and a half laps, but the Historic Road Sports race at Oulton Park in the TR4 was pure magic – while it lasted. It reminded me of why we do it.

Best event

Trick question, right? I’m going to say Rétromobile in Paris. We’ve all taken it for granted over the years, but it’s such a lovely social event full of great cars. We’ll all miss it if it goes.

New Year’s resolution

It’s the same as last year, and even more so after the publication of Weekend Heroes II: to drive an MG TC and get it out of my system.

Classic & Sports Car’s 2020 highlights