By Viktor Berg
This year’s Downton Engineering Works Classic Car Show celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Mini, first introduced in 1959 and is sure to water the mouths of car enthusiasts.
The show, at The Brian Whitehead Sports Ground, Downton, coincides with the 40th Cuckoo Fair.
World-famous Downton Engineering Works closed its doors 43 years ago, but its spirit is still very much alive, and on May 4, original Cooper S owners and genuine Downton Engineering customers parade their cars in the Wiltshire village to indulge in Mini history.
In addition to a variety of classic cars, including a prototype Mini never in production, Downton Engineering memorabilia is on display, with steam engines and mini tracks from Salisbury and South Wiltshire Railway Society for railway enthusiasts.
To further mark the special occasion, a car cavalcade with 60 Minis, escorted by emergency services, will travel from Redlynch Sports Centre through the Cuckoo Fair’s Purple Zone and the village, before joining the A338 and finally to the classic car area.
Active chairman of the motor club Steve Harris and the club’s liaison officer Lee Doak are hard at work at Steve Harris Engineering, Wilton, to get things ready for May.
They are currently working on a 1972 Mini Pickup and have been commissioned to create a “superior” 1962 Mini-Ton-Bomb replica – one of the most famous Downton Coopers – both of which they hope will be ready for the show.
Steve Harris Engineering focus on bespoke engineering services. Steve Harris himself started as an apprentice at Downton Engineering in 1964 and is a founding member of Downton Engineering Works Social Club who raced for 50 years.
Lee said even an Australian recognised Steve in Ireland at a Classic Mini race, which tells the tale of his, and Downton Engineering’s impact on automotive history.
Steve took on Lee 20 years ago after he had worked with Steve’s wife Brenda, and they are now carrying on the Downton tradition, driven by passion.
As BMW took over the production of Minis in 2000, some of them will be on display at the show as well, and Steve estimates there will be about 80% classics and 20% BMWs.
BMW trader Marshall Salisbury is involved and will have a few cars on display.
Due to popular demand, the club offers its own breakfast from 8.30am to 10.30am but other food and refreshments are on offer throughout the day and the Downton Motor Club Café, 8.30am to 3.30pm.
Downton Motor Club – DEWS – currently has about 60 registered members across the UK but would like to see more people from the local community join the club.
As a social motorsport club, its members take part in races, such as hill-climbing and sprinting, and compete at historically-recognised venues around the country, some over 100 years old.
Racing is not a requirement, however, and everyone is welcome – no need to have been a Downton Engineering employee or own a Downton car, or owning a car at all: enthusiasm is all that is needed.
Road run to remember
The following day, on May 5, Downton Motor Club holds its annual Road Run that takes participants past points of interest relating to the First World War, such as the Fovant Badges, to commemorate its ending 100 years ago.
Rally Cooper S car enthusiast John McIntosh has organised the WWI-inspired route which ends in Codford, a village with a long history of military camps and personnel.
Local landowner Colin Henry has allowed access to private roadways at the end of the run at the village hall in Codford.
Information and entry forms can be found on the Downton Motor