First, a confession: I’m slightly addicted to weekend breakfast meets. I’m one of those annoying people who doesn’t mind getting up early — especially when it’s a dry, bright morning and my car’s out front, ready to go.
I like it that no-one else is up yet, and I can escape for a few hours, dodging the various chores and, urggh, endless DIY jobs, that usually take up so much precious car time.
Those early mornings are even more appealing when at my planned destination there’s the offer of coffee, a breakfast bap and the sight of over 200 modified, classic and even modified classic cars.
Yep, this is the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning — even in the dead of the British winter.Extra Slice
January in the UK usually means tumbleweeds when it comes to car shows, but you can pretty much guarantee that the average breakfast meet will keep going all year round, whatever the worst of the weather will throw at us.
And since 2019, for car freaks in the south west, that means heading to the city of Bristol for the QS Car Club’s regular new year opener, the Queen Square Bristol Breakfast Club, next to Millennium Square down by the city’s historic docks.
It’s an incredible setting for a breakfast meet, with the QS Car Club’s Dan Grazier and his small but enthusiastic team of helpers filling every area of the square’s amphitheatre and surrounding areas.
Despite negotiating more space from the city council, there’s still room for ‘only’ 220 cars, which means Dan has to effectively curate the over-subscribed applications for a parking space rather than open the meet up to everyone. While this does give rise to some cries of exclusivity, it does mean you can guarantee an incredibly diverse selection of cars of all ages.
From classic 1980s-era hot hatches…
…To bonafide design icons, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone.
Yes, even a genuine British Telecom Austin Maestro van from the 1980s.
And some amazing ratites, too. I’ve never seen a 1992 Toyota Sera on UK soil before, but there was one at the January meet in all it’s butterfly-door’d glory.
Or this Mk1 Ford Escort Sport. Now, Mk1 Escorts maybe 10-a-penny but Sports aren’t — they’re always overshadowed by the bigger-engined and better-equipped RS models. The 1,300cc Sport only sold in small numbers and for a few short years, so genuine survivors are few and far between.
Resplendent in Vista Orange, this one belongs to the appropriately-named Sean Forde, and despite having a number of choice classic Fords in his collection, the Sport, wearing obligatory Cibie Super Oscar spot lamps, is his favourite.
Modified classic Minis are nothing new, but we’ve yet to see one quite like Mollie Challice’s. There are purposeful details everywhere, including swaged holes in the A-panels and rear valance…
…And the 1,275cc motor running a Vmaxscart suck-through supercharger setup, with a Weber DCOE side-draught carb. The 115bhp is more than enough for such a small car, and it looks and sounds incredible.
As does this Datsun/Nissan 240Z, the L-series engine running obligatory triple Webers.Last Orders
In the weeks leading up to the meet, Dan let it be known that could could well be the last one at Millennium Square. With Bristol adopting the UK’s Clean Air Act this year, which effectively ‘fines’ owners of cars built between 2005-1982 the sum of £9 (around US$13) per day for driving their cars in the city, and with the council increasingly reluctant to grant permission for the gatherings at the square to take place, this particular Breakfast Meet’s days could be over.
But it looks like the QS Car Club have been given a reprieve and there will be at least one more Millennium Square meet in 2022.
Not that the club have got much to worry about — they already hold regular meets and runs out, outside of the city, and if their Facebook group is anything to go by, these are only set to increase.
Glancing at my phone, I realise it’s already 11:00am – time to head back home to start that long list of DIY jobs I was tasked with the night before. The early morning run out will almost make doing them a pleasure. I did say almost.