I have a bit of an old soul when it comes to cars. Maybe it was born from spending most of my childhood in my dad’s KP61 Starlet Wagon, but I’ve always leaned more to the classics than the latest and greatest. Therefore, when Retro and Classic Cars Barbados started to organize car shows, my interest was piqued. Their shows are the place to be if you want to see the hidden gems that exist in Barbados, and the most recent one at Sky Mall was one of the best I’ve been to.
Making my descent into the parking lot, the first car that caught my eye was Trevor “Electric Micey” Manning’s freshly built Mitsubishi Lancer EX2000 Turbo rally car (you can read our feature on this machine here). Pictures don’t do this car justice; you have to see it up close and personal to appreciate the quality of this build.
Next in line was a Daihatsu Charmant that is a regular at these shows. It is still to date the cleanest one I’ve ever seen. While they make a great platform for an entry level drift/rally car, it’s refreshing to see a Charmant in full street trim.
Under the hood lies a carburetor feed, 16V 4A-GE; a great mix of old and slightly more modern that ties the resto-mod theme of this Charmant together.
Up next was the car that made Audi interesting and gave birth to its famous AWD System, the Quattro. It also – in my opinion – was the best sports car Audi made until the arrival of the R8 (Sorry Audi TT. You’ve only become awesome of late). This white example looked stunning in the late afternoon sun; the light doing a great job of accentuating its aggressive 80s body lines.
Under the hood sat a well taken care of 20v turbo 5-cylinder engine. During the inspection process, the judge gave it the “water in a cup” test, which involves placing a cup of water on top of the engine, then revving it. As 5-cylinder engines are inherently unbalanced, very agitated water would indicate a poorly tuned engine. This one had no such problems.
This beautifully restored Toyota Cressida caught my attention as I moved down the line. I do think it would be perfect with a set of period correct JDM wheels, but I can’t imagine those would be easy to find in Barbados.
Just look at how clean that engine bay is!
Another immaculately presented Toyota was this left hand drive AE86 Trueno. The exterior has been left stock outside of the wheels which, along with the moderate drop in ride height, give the car a purposeful stance.
A look in the engine bay showed that this car has the performance to back up its looks. The 16V 4A-GE features upgrades such as ITB and coil-on-plug ignition conversions.
Sat in between the two Toyotas were two gorgeous roadsters in red, starting with this Mk 1 Austin-Healey Sprite. Fun fact: That quirky ‘frogeye’ headlight design was actually an afterthought. The headlights were originally intended to be retractable, but due to cost cutting, they were simply fixed in a permanently upright position.
Another interesting feature is how the entire front end of the car is lifted to get to the tiny 0.9-litre engine.
Up next was this Honda S800. Cars such as the Sprite are actually what inspired Honda to build small, affordable sports cars.
In typical Honda fashion, the S800 – like the S500 and S600 before it – featured advanced technology for its time. It was Honda’s first 100mph car thanks to its 1-litre engine, which produced 70hp at 8000rpm and could rev all the way to a stratospheric 10,000rpm.
In the second row, there were two British cars that stood out to me. First, this well preserved Hillman Hunter. This car was very popular in the 1960s – 1970s mid-sized sedan segment, which contained competitors such as the Ford Cortina and Morris Marina. It was adept at just about anything from family hauling to rallying. It’s brightest moment for the latter was winning the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon Rally.
Next was this pristine Ford Popular. This 2 door saloon was the cheapest car you could buy in Britain when it was launched in 1953. It was meant to be a bare bones model that offered an attractive alternative to buying a used pre-war car. As finding a clean used car after World War II was difficult, the Popular proved to be very popular (sorry not sorry) with the public. Their light weight made them the “tuner car” of choice when the hot-rod trend took over in the late 50s; so much that the Ford Popular became synonymous with British hot-rodding. Still, it’s nice to see one kept in such clean original condition.
The Citroën 2CV could be seen as France’s version of the Ford Popular; a cheap, utilitarian car for the masses. It was hugely successful (selling over 3.8 million models) due to its ease of maintenance, low fuel consumption and long suspension travel that even made it capable of light off-road duty. It also had one of the longest production lifespans ever, being produced from 1948 to 1990; that’s 42 years for a single model.
Arriving fashionably late was this Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 Targa. It left me a bit puzzled as it rolled in, as I have never seen a non-turbo variant with the rear vents and side skirts from the ‘slant nose’ 930 Turbo SE. I assume it’s a conversion job (correct me if I’m wrong), but it’s pretty cool either way.
This Ford F1 Rat Rod attracted quite the crowd, so much that I had to wait till it was on the move to get a clear picture.
It’s easy to understand why this F-1 was a crowd pleaser. Few engines sound as menacing as a good old American V8.
While they weren’t part of the main show, a number of more modern cars had congregated in the adjacent section of the car park. So after completing my tour of the classics, I made my way there. My first stop was this group of well-presented Nissans.
Followed by this clean Mitsubishi Evo IX.
Cars like this Mitsubishi Evo VI are currently bridging the gap between classic and modern. I’m sure that these will be worth quite a bit in the future. Especially the Tommi Makinen Editions.
Of course, the future value of a car doesn’t have to stop you from making it your own. Some think their car is perfect as close to factory condition as possible, while others prefer to modify their cars to arrive at their version of perfection. Either way, the ultimate aim of a car enthusiast is to find a car that you enjoy owning.
All in all, this was yet another great event from Retro and Classic Cars Barbados. I’d recommend anyone, car enthusiast or not, to attend the next one. There’s always something interesting to see and learn, including random things like how many people will fit into a Smart car (it’s 10 by the way).