‘The first car I ever owned was a Consul 375, which I paid £50 for’ explained Ralph Wilson, Chairman of Wirral Classic Car Club. ‘I had it for 12 months and then moved in to the big league and bought a Cortina mk1 1200. I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread!’
It is easy to pick up on Ralph’s enthusiasm as he talks through some of the 49 cars he has owned. ‘My favourite car was a 1600 GT Capri. It was first time I could afford to buy a decent car - it was canary yellow and attracted the ladies!’
Ralph’s career as an engineer saw him travel the world, from Libya and the Philippines to East Germany and Nigeria, where he lived for 11 years. When he returned to England, he eventually settled in Wirral.
In 1993 a group of several like-minded petrol-heads were chatting about their passion for cars at Irby Mill pub and Wirral Classic Car Club was born. Since then it has flourished into a club with over 120 members, which meets every month and hosts major events throughout the year.
‘Wirral Classic Car Show takes place each May at Claremont Farm. We had more than 300 cars this year!’ recalled Ralph. ‘We have treasure hunts, social runs and an annual event at Gordale. Our next event is the Historic Vehicle Rally in July which is always popular.’
The rally attracts thousands of spectators along the route and gives members of the public the chance to see 80 pre-1980 cars up-close and meet their owners.
Ralph will be driving his Jaguar E-type in the rally, which he has owned for 37 years. The iconic British sports car was once described as ‘the most beautiful car ever made’ by none other than Enzo Ferrari.
‘I always dreamt of having an E-type and finally got one in 1982’ explains Ralph. ‘It’s my pride-and-joy. It only does 12 to 14 miles per gallon but you don’t get an E-type for fuel economy. I once reached 150mph in it, on the Top Gear airfield. I almost took off!’
Wirral Classic Car Club meets on the last Wednesday of every month at the British Legion in Heswall.
‘You don’t have to have a classic car to be a member’ continues Ralph. ‘If you have an interest and enthusiasm, we’ll find a place for you. We have people from all walks of life. 20% of our committee members are women and play an integral part of our club.
‘The future for the club is rosy. Classics cars are going to become even rarer because modern cars require electronics which become obsolete’.
Wirral Historic Vehicle Rally will be revving its engines on Sun 21 July.
From 9am you can see 80 classical cars at The Red Fox in Thornton Hough, before they begin to set off at 10.30am.
The cars drive to Carr Farm Garden Centre in Meols, where you can catch them between 11.30am and 1.30pm.
After lunch they loop through West Kirby and back to Thornton Hough, where you can admire the cars from 2pm. To see the full route, visit wirralclassiccarclub.co.uk.