It has been a pleasure. Am signing out. Taking my vintage hat off. Am a disappointed old school fellow. Someone fly me to Cuba to bring my vim and vigour.
First of all I was not to attend this year’s Concours D’Elegance held on 29th September at the Ngong Race Course but fate would have it other way as I was handed a free ticket. Even in the glare of the blue hue Afro Motive design I still deliberated on who to give the ticket but my fellow classics enthusiasts stuck indoors watching Lewis Hamilton battling it out with Bottas at the Russian GP. Good choice. I on the other hand would have been at my local church fundraising towards a kitchen construction but chose cars instead probably to witness if any changes had happened since last year that would convince me that glory was not gone. The devil won.
Over the years the shift in attendees has dropped drastically. At 11:00 am you would find the parking lot almost full and crowds seated at the judging arena. However, this year the story was rewritten. Empty parking lots not even quarterly filled and you would comfortably see the competing cars, mingle with competitors, mechanics, loyal fans, security guards and even journalists at ease. These are the people who made my boring day a success. Moreover, I could clearly classify attendees.
There are those like me who come early to document, interact and see the A-Z of everything at display plus we know our cars and bikes too. The deal strikers are those who walk keenly, view closely, know more than us and are here to buy a car, products or motorcycle. These are the type I envy. Then there are those who know nothing but keen to learn but some know nothing and yap about making a fool of themselves. The slayers. Those who walk in heels for hours on grass and soil paths as if they can’t feel the pinch on their inches or those who bounce around as if they got the mulla. These dress to kill and are the first at the food vendors to grab a can of liquor to lazily walk around and pose for the paparazzi probably to mark a statement on newspapers as “loyal fans” or “best dressed.” No, these are not here for the cars. They do anything for clout. The last minute gate crashers. They start streaming between 3-4pm making the crowds even bigger. Always in groups these are the party paupers. The ones who would rather pay Ksh 1,400 to watch a performance till late and get drunk and don’t give a hoot about what really Concours D’Elegance means.
That said, the number of competitors did not change having the Alfa Romeo take most leads in number of cars displayed to John Wroe’s having the cutest of Rolls Royce. His 1930 Ford Model A won this year outdoing his daughter’s 1934 Rolls Royce Boattail. Ugandans never disappointed in their MGs, Mini Coopers and motorcycles wondering where Tanzanians ran off to. Back then they once showcased a yellow Ferrari that has not been spotted since. Much of display was the norm (Honda bikes were lit) to an African picturesque moment that took one to the land of Wakanda. The number of merchandise sale was lacking with Yamaha, Suzuki, Total, Shield, Battery World, Spirit Motorcycles, Friends of Karura, AA and Karen Technical Institute for the Deaf taking the day. Children had their moments at the bouncing castles, face painting, virtual displays to educational centers courtesy of Brookside.
Of interest was the mushrooming food vendors. This time they really outdid themselves. Sarova even had an open tent ballroom arrangement while the rest competed on their prices which were far the cheapest. Dairy land ice cream ranged from Ksh 40-Ksh 150 while a plate of chips was Ksh 200. Dominos coffee allure could be smelled miles away while KFC chicken thronged many. Farmers choice was also not left out as their sandwiches, hot dogs and sausages took huge bites in the mouths of buffs so was Kenchic that been around for years foresaw a huge competition. The Wine Gallery came through with the drinks. Mobile toilets over the years have been many but this time round only one was present making an urgent call of nature almost unbearable. Wanderjoy event organizers mobile toilet was where I wanted to spend my time in for the day. This is where I wanted to hide my lost furor if only time allowed. The fresh smell of lavender spray, well displayed serviettes, clean sink, to the blue flashing water and the sparkling floor; what would a moody aficionado ask for!
What did I like most?
1. Money Heist was in the area and they heisted my moods. She was our Nairobi together with her boyfriend stole the motorcycle arena in their Shadow Honda an American Classic Edition. Their costumes literally lit everything up.
2. Ransoms Sims and Jefferies portable steam engine manufactured in 1920. It was recovered from a farm in Eldoret some 10 years ago where it had been used to drive a circular saw bench cutting timber.
3.Porsche tractor. Before Porsche went all hammer on luxurious car they first started out with the tractors. The 1950 tractor has been restored by students and trainers of the Karen Technical Training Institute.
4. An ancient petrol dispensing pump showcased by Total .
5. Thomas the Gor Mahia football fan. Finally I got to meet him in his ancient Egyptian sisal costume that he designed.
6. 1952 Mercedes Benz Truck. Acquired by DT Dobie in 1952/the truck gave the company 31 years of service. The new Mercedes Benz Actros Prime mover illustrates the Heritage Collection sub theme of “The ancient and the modern.”
What is lacking/ not musing/ didn’t like?
1. The ticket pricing continues to increase yearly. This I feel to some extent locks out potential classic enthusiasts.
2. Bentleys and Jaguars are slowly vanishing. Zakale.com used to display spare parts and vehicles halfway assembled or dismantled. Now that no longer happens. Baba Shiru’s racing cars no longer show up. Moris Minors, Peugeots, Opel, BMWs are lacking. Bring them back dear competitors!
3. As much as Concours D’Elegance is all about classics, modern cars make appearances for sale. This time they were very few begging the questions, don’t these companies have new models? What are we lately assembling?
4. The presence of other East African countries is wanting. Ugandans continue to wow us but the real deal is, where are the rest? What makes them not showcase their vehicles?
5. The parachute performances was something else. The sky divers would make a daring entry back then and I surely miss this.
Something is missing. The puzzle baffles me but I will piece it together soon. As many of us take our hats off, CBA and Total need to strategize. Go back to the drawing board and bring in the factor that will make the crowds that used to pop early rise and shine. Bring in the bubble that made us as energetic as a year began as we marked our calendars to the last Sunday of September.