With new management in charge, the annual Flanders Collection Car event may have benefited from the end of the snowy winter (or is it just a break?) to attract a larger than expected number of visitors to the Gent Expo. Situated as it is right by the E40 motorway, and close to other major routes it is easily accessible to visitors from France, Holland and even England – it’s just 90 minutes from the Channel ports – as well as Belgium.
The focus of the show was a mouth-watering display of Lamborghini models right across the spectrum from 400GT to the latest Gallardo. Many of the cars on view were provided by JAC Cars, a long-standing Italian car specialist from nearby Waregem. The organisers have plans to build upon features such as this for future events.
Club displays were a little thin on the ground, with many of the stands being taken up by trade exhibitors, and it was noticeable that some were offering UK-registered cars for sale, presumably having taken advantage of the recent plummeting pound to buy-up stock in Britain. Amongst those to be had were a pair of VW Beetle Cabriolets and a tired-looking Mini Clubman Estate.
British classics featured elswhere too, with the inevitabe MG’s to be found. We’re not sure what Riley diehards would have made of the RM resplendent in a two-tone metallic green paint scheme topped-out with a white roof!
Much of the show space is given over to individuals with cars for sale, with something to suit pretty well everyone. Americana is popular in Belgium, so there was everything from a lovely ‘60’s Thunderbird to a vaguely Bullitt-like Mustang. European machinery ranged from a straight-from-the-farm Peugeot 404 Pick-up at 3500 Euros, whilst not a lot more would have got you an extremely tidy Lancia Fulvia Coupe.
Amongst the club displays, particularly eye-catching was a camper van conversion on a Citroen H van. Commissioned from new by the original owner in 1968, this delightfully period piece made a welcome change from the inevitable VW Combi variants and the current owner, who bought from the original keeper, regularly uses it for trips around Europe. Another unusual camper, looking more like an ambulance, was based on a 1950s Ford truck.
It is amazing what you come across at small shows such as this, and Gent threw up one or two surprises in the way of competition cars. For example, a March 87C with Indianapolis provenance had found it’s way to Belgium, even if it’s moment of glory in the famous 500-Mile race was being thrown into the wall by Steve Chassey in 1988. Probably even rarer though, was the Group C Argo-Porsche apparantly campaigned in the 1988 German Supersprint series with little success by the DAHM team. There was a BMW M1 too, although this was actually a road car. A drag-racing Ford Anglia caught the eye also, it’s paint job probably just as loud as the engine!
Tucked away in one corner and really deserving of more prominent display were a pair of pre-war cars in the shape of a yellow Buick and red De Soto. If one or two more of their ilk could be tempted along, they would make a superb central display at a future event.
Gent is well-supported by autojumble traders and is also a happy hunting ground for model collectors, with several traders such as Italian Miniatures, David Thomas and Chaters finding the trip from England worthwhile. Hopefully the new organisers can exploit the potential that this event has to grow into something even better. The location and venue are excellent, the show itself needs a little work on the presentation, and perhaps to attract more clubs, and then they will have a winner.