Mayday! The British are Invading Lewes!

It’s time to rev up the spring engines. The charismatic auto extravaganza, “The British are Coming…Again,” is the theme to this year’s celebration in the town and on the banks of Lewes.

Part auto show and competition, part small town parade, the event happens to be on May 1st this year. May Day for sure, in this case, does not mean anything except the return of spring, Delaware beach weather and the annual display of vintage British automobiles, treasured for their beauty,
detail and endurance.

The brainchild of British car afficionado Mike Tyler and the British Car Club of Delaware, the Lewes British Motorcar Show celebrates its silver anniversary of 25 years. It was designed to welcome spring to the Cape, show off some meticulously restored British vehicle brands, and entertain both visitors and residents alike. The tradition has morphed into a rollicking (er, rolling) celebration. Rain or shine, an expected total of approximately 100 British beauties will converge in the parking lot area of the Cape May– Lewes Ferry terminal.

There’s no mistaking that this is a serious competition for the registered owners of Brit autos. Awards are presented to entrant winners in ten categories, and ultimately the coveted award of ‘Best in Show’. The honorary judges include the Mayor of Lewes, Ted Becker, local news anchor
Maddie Overturf (WDRE) and members of British Car Club of Delaware – themselves having won their own event’s prestigious top award!

Visitors to the festival will immediately notice differences with American cars, such as manual transmissions and right-side drivers’ seats. Military vehicles are renowned for lasting forever with their diesel engines, while upscale cars feature exquisite, luxurious details, lovingly crafted. There’s a lot of history and respect for British vehicles, whether they’ve transported royalty, survived a couple of world wars, or successfully defied the elements through ambitious campaigns throughout the last century.

What makes this such an exclusively Lewes event is that it’s particularly audience friendly. It isn’t just about the oohing and ahhing over the display of beloved automobiles, meticulously maintained by self-described “gearheads.” This friendly competition offers plenty of entertainment for the non-gearheads who simply want to learn more or enjoy the Delaware Bay background scenery, there’s plenty to keep visitors happy, including food and refreshments at the popular Grain on the Rocks and its sister coffee house, Lewes Coffee Company.

And then, there’s the parade that follows the ferry terminal’s display, aptly named the Winner’s Circle, where the British fleet of ‘land rovers’ of all personalities travel with fanfare and spectators along the short route to Lewes’ quaint downtown shopping district. There, the results of the competition are announced – all 31 awards. The awards are announced by Mayor Becker while simultaneously, Lewes in Bloom and its all-volunteer advocates for beautiful spring and summer plants conducts a plant sale nearby.

Whether they are expecting it or not, shoppers along Second Street are awestruck by the variety of the automobiles. Not coincidentally, the Lewes Chamber of Commerce makes sure to schedule the British Motorcar Show alongside the local merchants’ Spring Sidewalk Sale that takes place from Friday, April 30th through Sunday, May 2nd.

Joining the fun, the Historic Lewes Farmers Market is also open for business earlier (from 8 am to Noon). Even the art galleries that feature local artists’ works hop into the jumper seat with special events all weekend.

Fancy a cuppa fun. Then zip on over, toot sweet!

Admission for the motor show is $5, while children under twelve are admitted free of charge. Click here for more information about the event features. (Pictures and logos used with permission.)

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