How the classic car world has started to recover from coronavirus

Historic Racing

Cancelled events haven't meant a total shutdown for the classic car and historic racing world during the coronavirus pandemic, and there are positive signs that things are returning to normal

Goodwood Revival 2019

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Racing seasons are resuming, events are being rescheduled, and the world of classic cars and historic racing has also been showing signs of recovery in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Owners and car dealers have begun moving cars around the country again, say transportation firms, as the sector slowly but surely returns to life.

The Covid-19 restrictions, which have led to the cancellation of this year’s Silverstone Classic and Le Mans Classic events brought almost all car transport to a halt, said James Walker, general manager of CARS Europe, which transports vehicles around the world.

“When we first got put into lockdown, especially in terms of the trucking, it was like someone had turned off the tap,” he said.

“The level of business just dropped through the floor. Certainly, for two or three weeks. We’ve got a fleet of 26 trucks on the road, and we took them all off the road and kept two on, and at that point we were just moving containers back and forth from the port.

“Now we’re actually now up to seven or eight trucks on the road and they’re all out delivering cars.

“I think that’s a very interesting barometer in terms of the way things have changed and where things were and how they’ve moved forward – things are getting busier again.

“We’re nowhere near capacity but I think at the moment it’s baby steps, the early signs of the way things are going are very positive.”

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Despite the slow but steady process of returning to normal, the gaps in the calendar resulting from cancelled events has undoubtedly been felt by the industry, but that hasn’t meant a total halting of operations. Switching from high profile events to a sole focus on private clientele has been a crucial move and existing commitments have been fulfilled in the face of the Covid-19 restrictions.

“Coronavirus has obviously had an effect. Events have been cancelled on an international basis and not just in the UK and Europe. A notable one for us this year is going to be the cancellation of Monterey week. Amelia Island and Scottsdale took place pre-coronavirus, we were in Scottsdale in January, out in Amelia in March and the third big one in our year is Monterey week so that’s certainly going to put a hole in this ship.

“UK and European events make up such a large part of what we do, especially this time of year. With the cancellation of events such as Essen, Goodwood, the RM auction, Tour Auto, Mille Miglia – we support all of those events and the historic racing events alongside those. The cancellation of those events has had a direct impact on the number of trucks we’re using at the moment.

“It’s encouraging to see that we have seven or eight trucks out at the moment and none of those trucks are relying on event traffic. They’re out there doing things for private clients and dealers.

“With international shipping and sea freight, there’s a much longer lead time in how long it takes to do something. When coronavirus came about in the UK and lockdown happened, we still had a load of shipments on the sea from the ERA event in New Zealand. We shipped all the cars over to that and they were on their way back.

“The Rally the Globe event in Kenya, we were shipping all the cars back from that and there was another event by Rally Round in South Africa. All of these events – 25 cars plus – these events happened before the coronavirus came about.

“Even though we were sat here and our trucks were quiet, over the course of three or four weeks we had a hundred cars come in from all different destinations that needed handling as normal. We couldn’t shut our business even in these difficult times.”

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