Classic cars of the 1980s are currently undergoing an upsurge in popularity, with enthusiasts unearthing examples wherever they can find them. No wonder then that the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show, held at Birmingham’s NEC from 31 March – 2 April, features six models in its Barn find display.
Creating the UK’s biggest Barn Find display, the organisers have scoured the country to bring together 25 rusty wrecks – some that still have a glimmer of hope of getting back on the road while others should be left to ‘rust in peace’. For these 80s classics, the future looks bright as they continue to grow in desirability.
Just 18 months ago, John Ducker made a low bid on eBay for one of the few surviving Isuzu Piazza Turbos only for him to wake up “to find I was now its proud owner. The Piazza needed welding both front inner wing and, patches in on the sills but as they are notorious for rusting the overall condition was not too bad. It is also a nice machine to drive and my 1989 example is one of the only Turbo Automatics in the UK.”
Also on display is a second car from the Ducker collection – a 1987 BMW 728, that had been stood in a garden for 11 years before it was rescued six months ago. “I had previously owned two Seven Series and thought that in their day they had a better ride than a Silver Shadow. My BMW is a very unusual manual gearbox model and the clutch is on the floor so although the engine sounds sweet it cannot be run. For a car that was kept outside for so long, the body is comparatively free of rot but the front passenger seat has deteriorated.” John hopes to embark on the restoration of the 728 and Pizza in the near future.
Another major Barn Find attraction is an Audi Quattro, one of the genuinely iconic cars of the decade. This 1987 Turbo was found by Andy Bates in Burton-Upon-Trent. “I had known about the car since 2011 but it took me until 2015 for its owner to sell it to me. It had been standing outside for about eight years and the bodywork was much as you see it now; the wings, roof and sills were all in need of attention. However, the Audi was still drivable and ‘the talking dashboard still spoke to me!”
This is Andy’s third Quattro and his plans involve getting it through a MOT before he considers a nut-and-bolt refurbishment.
One of the rarest cars at the NEC is a 1985 Nissan Cherry Europe. In the 1980s Alfa Romeo collaborated with the Japanese company but the resulting car, under both marques was not a great success.
Only three examples of the Cherry are believed to be on the road in the UK and this 1.2-litre model was bought by David Roberts in March 2016. “It had been lying in a garage in Stoke on Trent for the past ten years. The Nissan was surrounded by junk and its interior used for storage but it wasn’t a complete mess and there were just 32,597 miles on the clock.”
After a new battery, tyres and mechanical recommissioning the Cherry was MOTd in May 2016. The exterior is just as David found it and he regards the Nissan as ”a cracking little car to drive. It may not be the most exotic car in the event but it is certainly one of the most exclusive!”
These four examples are also joined by a 1986 Austin Metro City and a 1982 Porsche 924 from the 1980s, as well as other marques spanning from 1931 onwards.
Lee Masters, Acting Show Director, said: “The sheer diversity of Barn Find display is incredible. Every year, we’re blown away by the amazing cars we discover. It is always a highlight of the show.”