In 1928, cars rallied to Bournemouth from all over the UK in a competition which was set to replicate the Monte Carlo Rally.
Hailed as one of the best motoring gatherings of the era, the first ever Concours d’Elegance is to be celebrated with an exclusive gathering of vintage cars at Bournemouth’s first Wheels Festival this month.
More than 50 prestige marques such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Bugatti, Talbot, MG, Riley and Frazer Nash will feature among many more evocative names from the carefree art deco era.
Bournemouth Pavilion will be the backdrop for the display on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, which runs from May 24 to 26.
“We don’t want it to be a full-blown concours event,” explained Gillian Carr from Historic Promotions, which is overseeing the vintage aspect of Wheels.
“It can be a bit off-putting for people and it’s perceived as a bit stuffy these days. Each participant that brings a vintage car will be given a card and we’ve got some fun competitions so they will go round and nominate, so it’s very informal.
“At the end of each day, these cars will then go out and close the clifftop competition course.”
Members of the public are invited to take their own vintage cars down, but they do need to be pre-registered and built before 1941. Participants and spectators are invited to dress in vintage clothes to complement the display.
Visitors can also enjoy a truly classic sight as a number of vintage vehicles will be taking part in a very special race along the cliff-top competition course.
“There will be a category for pre-war racing cars,” said Gillian.
“It’s an exclusive selection of iconic, pre-war racing cars coming from the best collections in the country, so it will be a real coup.
“It’s something for people to enjoy.”
Organisers of the festival are hoping to set an unusual record at the event.
As part of the Wheels Night Ride on the evening of the final day of the three-day festival, Monday, May 26, thousands of ‘Bears on Bikes’ will be setting off from Boscombe Pier.
Starting at around 6pm, they will head for Bournemouth town centre to complete a circuit on closed-off roads for the Bears on Bikes community ride, with the aim of making it the most ever seen.
The Bournemouth Wheels Festival is working with Bournemouth Round Table to raise money for the Round Table Children’s Wish charity, which grants wishes to young people with life-threatening illnesses.
Mark Smith, Bournemouth’s director of tourism, said: “This fun and unique event is open to everyone from cycling groups to families. All you have to do is attach a bear to your bike – or even dress up as one – and register through Round Table Children’s Wish to take part and help make a child’s dream come true.”
Bears on Bikes will be the start of the Wheels Night Ride, an evening of entertainment for families.
The community event will feature a fast-paced racing circuit, nightglow spectacular and fireworks to end the evening with a bang.
To register your vintage car for the display, call Gillian Carr at Historic Promotions on 01386 840321.
The Wheels Festival is expected to attract 360,000 people to the town and other attractions will include a motorbike pier jump, monster trucks and rally car demonstrations.
The free weekend will see around 100 events in the gardens, at the seafront, on the cliff tops and at Meyrick Park over the three days.
There will be BMX stunts, classic cars, monster trucks, supercars and much more.
Jon Weaver, Wheels Festival director, said: “It’s a new and exciting festival to be part of and marks the start of Bournemouth’s great spring/summer entertainment programme.”
For all our stories on the Bournemouth Wheels Festival and a map of what's happening where visit bournemouthecho.co.uk/wheels