On our side of the pond, we call them swap meets. Ah, but once again, the British have a way with words and thus the 50th International Autojumble last weekend, with more than 36,000 people going to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu to buy parts and pieces and assorted automobilia from 2,378 vendors.
Many of those vendors’ booths were decked out in gold trim to recognize the 50th anniversary of the largest such event in Europe. The weekend included a Bonhams auction.
For some of the vendors, the weekend also marked the 50th year in a row in which they’ve had a booth of wares on display at Beulieu.
“I knew Michael Ware, the curator of the Montagu Motor Museum as it was called then, and he asked if I would like to take part in this new event,” recalled David Bennett, one of those back for the 50th time. “That first year I hired a 1965 Ford Transit and brought along an Austin Seven engine, which sold for £10, while I also sold a set of Riley engine valves for half a crown.
“I have had a stand ever since, with help from my friends and family,” he said in the museum’s post jumble news release. “I love the atmosphere and enthusiasm of all the visitors.”
Richard Skinner also has attended every one of the Beaulieu International Autojumbles.
“My dad worked for Beaulieu, so my parents came along to support the first event,” Skinner said. “My mum was heavily pregnant with me at the time, so although I hadn’t yet been born I was even at that first show! I have been at every Spring and International Autojumble ever since.
“It is the biggest social event in the calendar for us and everyone is always sure to be there . . . plus we do a bit of selling as well!”
The inaugural Autojumble was advertised as “a day of great interest for everyone” and that description seems to hold up well with the passing of time. Everything engines and transmissions to bodies for pre-war specials, lights, wheels, all sorts of replacement parts, even books, brochures, model cars and signs are for sale.
“The 50th International Autojumble was a golden opportunity to buy anything automotive, from a set of spanners to a Lalique mascot,” said Beaulieu events manager Judith Maddox.
Also taking place during the show was the unveiling of a 6-foot bronze status of Edward, the late Lord Montagu in front of the museum.
The statue shows Edward, Lord Montagu dressed in the vintage clothes he would have worn on the London to Brighton run and with his hand on a Dunlop tire.
Lord Montagu approved the statue before his death. The sculptor, John Cox, also became ill and died, but the statue was completed by his wife, Joy, and daughter, Jayne Meadows.
To evoke the spirit of the event, three classic vehicles were showcased to demonstrate what an “autojumbler” can accomplish.
A Morris Minor Traveller, in need of total restoration, was provided by Charles Ware’s Morris Minor Centre to represent a typical project in the making. To show the potential, a restored and award-winning Morris Minor Traveller also was part of a display that included Graeme Rust’s Alvis Woody which had been in a barn for 30 years and was restored over a 10-year process.
The backdrop for the display was a series of images from 50 years of the autojumble.