Italian style at Motor Fest, Ballymena

Italian style at Motor Fest, Ballymena

NIIMC have supported the annual car show at Ballymena over a number of years and although the show now has different organisers we were happy to attend Motor Fest and make our donation to help them raise funds for the Community Rescue Service, a not for profit organisation who support the PSNI as primary responders for high risk and vulnerable missing persons.

Our turnout from club members was lower than we would have liked due to some being on holiday and others having pre-arranged family commitments etc but nevertheless our small Italian collection of cars, the epitome of style and grace, were welcome additions to Ballee Playing Fields on Sunday 20 August. Although, the show was not on the same size and scale at it was a number of years ago, the turnout was still impressive and there was certainly a good variety of cars on  display to suit all tastes. There was the usual strong presence from Ford, from Mark 1 Escorts to Ford Mondeos and Mustangs and plenty in between as  well as Audis, BMWs, Lotus, Opel, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Porsche.

There were also lowered cars, noisy cars (as evidenced by the rev off competition which delighted the children who instantly raced over to record the exhaust pops and bangs on their phones), coupes, cabriolets, supercars and some not so super cars!!

There were a few standout cars for me for different reasons. The ultra rare Renault 5 GT turbo Raider brought back hot hatch memories and the Metro GTA brought back some warm hatch ones!! (I have a soft spot for Metros as my first car was an MG Metro)

The Lotus Elan and JPS Europa were stunning and an original left hooker BMW M3 always grabs attention. Italian offerings also included Chris and Frank’s Fiat 131 Mirafiori Sport and Alfa Romeo Spider as there were also a couple of smart looking Abarth 500s and a beautiful Ferrari 360, not to mention Johnny’s Lambo Gallardo.

The only negative on the day was the inflexibility of the organisers to let people leave if they had other commitments – they sought to impose a lock in until 4pm and sought to prohibit movement of cars until then. Whilst we all appreciate the need for health and safety the attitude of some of the marshalls was disappointing – the crowds were not so big that the marshalls could not have escorted some drivers safely from the playing fields without risk of an incident.

Dictating to people that they commit to 6 hours at a show is a big ask when people lead busy lives. Maybe this is why cars and coffee events are now so popular as people can show their cars for a few hours and then leave if they wish. NIIMC members have significant experience of organising static car shows and were always mindful of health and safety considerations. We still allowed those displaying vehicles to come and go and managed to do this incident free on every occasion. Perhaps the organisers will reflect on this for next year.

On the bright side the weather was good and club members enjoyed good conversation about cars, food and many other real world issues!!


Tim Logan

Club Chairman