Classic Car Boot Sale returns to London
Words and photos by Andrew Coles
There’s probably a book to be written about the humble boot sale and how it reflects contemporary society. In decades past it was a method for clearing clutter from your house – fill the boot of your vehicle, attend your local boot sale, and hopefully raise a few dollars for your efforts. Those who attended as buyers were often hoping for nothing more than to save a few dollars. Why buy new, when you can pick it up for a fraction of the price at a boot sale?
The boot sale always had an air of adventure for those with a specific knowledge or hobby, and we’ve all attended these sales with the hope of discovering some disinterested but well-meaning children clearing out Grandad’s old Colnago push bike or Leica film camera for just a few dollars. The truth is that in the age of easy verification of value on the internet this rarely happens, but for the same reason that people still buy lottery tickets, we rarely let the truth get in the way of a good chase. We’re still on the hunt for that illusive Leica.
Demographers and marketers have duly noted that society is increasingly obsessed with all things vintage. Maybe this is a subconscious reaction to the invasion of technology in our lives, but it’s an unmistakable trend and we’re certainly guilty of it ourselves. Almost everything has an eye to the past – new motorcycles like the Triumph Thruxton and Ducati Scrambler have never been more desirable, musicians are releasing albums on vinyl again, old Levi’s cost more than new pairs, and events like the Goodwood Revival enjoy unprecedented success.
The rise of mass production and fast fashion has caused the vintage movement to become a form of social currency, and the humble boot sale is riding this wave like nothing else. Families on budgets now wear the latest trends from K-Mart and Primark – to some degree, they’ve been priced out of the boot sale. Instead of working-class families looking to clothe themselves in second-hand rags to put a few more dollars into the holiday savings fund, the modern boot sale is full of buddha-bowl nibbling hipsters hunting for a pair of 501s with just enough patina to fit in at the next Vampire Weekend gig. Nothing embodies this more than London’s Classic Car Boot Sale, held every few months at Granary Square near Kings Cross Station, but we can’t judge. We love old stuff, and we love classic cars!
Boot sale is probably the wrong term for this event – there’s barely a bargain to be found here, and any Leica or Colnago will be priced at market rates or above. But what you do get are carefully curated stalls which reflect the tastes and personal style of the stallholder. As soon as I saw an old Land Rover Series 1 towing a rusty cafe racer on a trailer and an animated seller wearing Red Wings and a leather motorcycle jacket, I knew I was probably in the right place to find some new threads. And if someone wants to use a Porsche Speedster to help sell prints, all power to them!
It makes for a pleasant day out, and one that will surely find favour with any members of your pack that might not be so automotively inclined. There are your usual range of Citroén H-Van-housed street food vendors, and being the UK, there’s no shortage of beers and Prosecco available too. It’s not a boot sale in the conventional sense, but it’s far more enjoyable.
The next Classic Car Boot Sale will be held over the weekend of August 18-19. Click here for more information.