Daihatsu Applause crowned as 2023 Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional champion

The globally renowned Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional enjoyed another sell-out success at Grimsthorpe Castle on Saturday, with a record attendance of 1200 cars and 3000 guests enjoying the Lincolnshire sunshine.

Hagerty created the first Festival of the Unexceptional in 2014 as a celebration of long-forgotten everyday family cars from 1968-1989, now fondly known as the ‘Unexceptional Era’. The 2023 Concours presented one of the best display lawns seen over nine years of the Festival, with highlights including 5000-mile Cavalier and the only Yugo Sana in the UK. In addition, many owners displayed period accessories such as original dealer signage and model specific brochures to ensure their cars stood out to the judges.

Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars presenter Paul Cowland chatted with Unexceptional car fans throughout the day as Repair Lot presenter Charlotte Vowden kept the crowds entertained on the main stage. Live interviews with YouTube presenters proved popular, with the likes of HubNut and idriveaclassic telling their tales to the assembled audience, while previous FOTU Concours winners also shared the secrets of their Unexceptional success.

While the Concours lawn presented 50 of the most mundane motors ever assembled, the main spectator car parks boasted an equally impressive selection of lesser spotted rarities, including a Moskvitch Aleko, a trio of Toyota Tercel 4x4s along with hundreds of other forgotten heroes and rarely seen treasures.

Hugo Naaijkens from the Netherlands took third place in the Concours with his 1993 Subaru Justy. Hugo, an avid Subaru WRC fan, only recently passed his driving test but has already vowed never to sell his beloved Justy.

Sion Hudson and his 1983 Austin Metro took second place. Sion has spent two years finding the original parts needed to return the car to its showroom specification after he discovered the previous owner had fitted some upgrades. Work included removing the radio, passenger door mirror and even the indicator side repeaters to give a showroom standard look.

Stephen Pike drove his 1991 Daihatsu Applause from Sweden to compete at FOTU and had only just completed an extensive renovation the day before he undertook the 900-mile journey to Lincolnshire.

“I love unusual cars, the Applause was unloved, and I was on a mission to save it.,” said Stephen. “Hopefully, it’s going to be around for a few more years now”.

On receiving his trophy for the Concours d’Ordinaire and the award for longest distance travelled Stephen added: “I’m speechless. I’d read about FOTU online and seen pictures, but when I arrived and saw the other vehicles, I thought some were in much better condition!”

Next year will be the tenth anniversary of FOTU and the event is already gearing up to be bigger and better than ever.

Mark Roper, Managing Director of Hagerty International, added “This was, without doubt, the biggest and best Festival of the Unexceptional ever. After weeks of rain the sun shone, the crowds gathered, and we had an incredible day. What impressed me the most was the amount of young owners bringing their cars along, suggesting Unexceptional-era cars are the next big thing in young driver car culture. We will be back next year to celebrate 10-years of Unexceptional cars with a truly exceptional event.”

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