By invitation only

Playing with cars has never been a cheap hobby. Irrespective of whether you have a passion for Ladas or Lamborghinis, the chances are you could find a more affordable way to amuse yourself. But for true enthusiasts, it’s never been about money or status. You only need to look at the diminutive Austin Seven specials lining up against 7-figure Bentleys at a Vintage Sports Car Club event to appreciate this shared love of cars. And that’s why it’s rather sad to see a growing number of events that seem to be aimed at keeping the riff-raff out.

The other day, a press release dropped into my inbox promising another ‘exclusive’ motoring event at an aristocratic country seat. I have no doubt that the coach circle in front of the Georgian-fronted manor house will look splendid with a smattering of Bugatti Royales and Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts on its immaculately-raked gravel. It’s a scene that’s sure to capture the imagination of any petrolhead, but how many people sipping champagne at this event will actually be there for the cars?

The same event talks about being ‘part of the summer season’, which sounds more Jane Austen than Jackie Stewart to me. And it’s not the only one. Historic motoring events seem to be taking on a high-society element that threatens to dilute the passion that created them. The other great sporting tradition this brings to mind is horse racing. For every person who loves the equestrian side, you get the impression there are a dozen more who simply want to be seen at a society event with a bigger hat than everyone else. It would be very sad if motoring events were to go the same way.