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Trunk rockers: how to make the most of the Classic Car Boot Sale

Posted at 12:30 pm, March 14, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, Shopping & Style
Vintage  Car Boot Sale ©Fiona Campbell

How better to browse 1950s crockery than from the boot of a beautiful vintage car, asks Katie Dailey: this weekend’s South Bank Classic Car Boot Sale will get your motor running in a ravishingly retro way.

‘We’d been toying with the idea of a classic car boot sale for a long time, my wife and I,’ says a very busy Wayne Hemingway, entrepreneur and event organiser, as he prepares for the second run of his large-scale event on the South Bank. ‘We wondered if there were enough classic car owners who also had collections to sell, but of course by their very nature, these are people who like to collect. They have an eye for ephemera.’

And so last October, 100 magnificent vintage vehicles gathered by the Thames to trade fashion, homeware and collectibles from their gleaming trunks, and more than 8,000 Londoners came to ogle at them. This weekend, you can once again expect to see Chevys, Mustangs and VW campers bumper-to-bumper along the banks, and appropriately attired owners peddling their wares to the sound of some good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll.

Traders will be selling prized product from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s – authentic, beautiful stuff, often sold from a vehicle of the corresponding era, as collectors tend to be drawn to a particular period and stick to it.

It’s a shopping experience that offers so much more than just buying – for a start, even the most hardened pedestrian can’t fail to be moved by the perfectly polished bonnet of an old Thunderbird. And as Hemingway points out, ‘The owners of these cars like to show them off. They love you to look at them. It makes for a great atmosphere.’ Hemingway may have made millions from the sale of his ’80s brand Red Or Dead, but he started out selling £6-worth of clothes on a Camden market stall in 1981, and he’s still a canny shopper and lover of all things vintage.

‘Well, we called it “secondhand” back then,’ he laughs. He contacted classic vehicle owners via car clubs, of which there are more than 700 in the UK, and his own vast network of vintage fans on Facebook,meaning both days of this weekend’s fair are fully booked with traders.‘The funny thing about most vintage events is that they wouldn’t be able to exist without modern social networks,’ Hemingway muses. ‘It’s like the best of the old and the new, working together.’

Classic Car Boot sale takes place at the Southbank Centre on Sat Mar 15 and Sun Mar 16, 10am-6pm.

Wayne Hemingway ©Rebecca Reid

WAYNE HEMINGWAY’S  – guide to boot-sale buying

Don’t get stuck on the first stall.

‘Do a first fast run around. You’re in competition with other people, and you need to be quick. You then do your second sweep once you’ve secured the obvious good buys.’

Do negotiate.

‘These are not regular sellers, they are people that want to go home with empty cars. So they’ll give you a good price.’

If you like it, try it, then buy it.

‘It’s not like Oxford Street, where you can come back once you’ve made up your mind. Do you want to see someone else walking around with your shirt? No, you don’t. Check for holes and size, but if you like it, buy it now.’

Don’t follow your nose.

‘There are more than 40 artisan food sellers at this event, all with their smells wafting around. But this is a military operation until you’ve done your shopping. How is that curry going to taste after you’ve seen someone wandering around with your Loake brogues under their arm? It’s goingtotastedreadful.’

Do records last.

‘Flicking through a rail of shirts doesn’t take long, but record browsing is slow. Unless you’ve been searching for one record for a long time, leave vinyl until after clothes and furniture.’

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