The Weird and Wonderful Vehicles of Glastonbury


In England we have a festival; you may have heard of it. It’s called the Glastonbury Festival of Performing Arts and it’s pretty much legendary. Typically millions of people vie for the 150,000 available tickets and they all sell out within an hour and a half. Anyway, this post marks the first time I have failed to secure tickets in my tenth year of trying.

And it’s so much more than a music festival. Sure, the big international headline music acts are the main bit of news, but there is comedy and poetry, and art and meditation. Oh, and vehicles. Lots and lots of them. Carnival types are famous for having a left-field choice of transportation. Here are some of the standouts that I’ve documented during my visits over the years.

Head past the jump for cultural and spiritual enlightenment. Or something.

We begin with that Range Rover in the lede image. OK, this isn’t a functional vehicle anymore, more a piece of installation art. But I guess it must be saying something as some kind of statement. The thing sneaks up on you in its surrealness. As you approach, it’s just a Range Rover, and you wonder exactly what it’s doing there. Then you notice the clear view through from one wheelarch to the other side, and start to smell fishiness.

Then you realise that it’s only 18 inches wide. Now; I couldn’t get close enough to find out whether the thing was actually driveable or not; I presume in the negative. But it’s certainly fun. If I was a proper hippy-beatnik type, I’d say that this creation was lampooning the SUV movement by reducing the Range Rover to a silhouetted caricature of itself, taken out of context and transposed against a landscape of goodwill, equality, peace and love.

But I’m not. So I won’t.

Next up, and sticking with the theme of sculpture, we’ll take a look at the work of the Mutoid Waste Company, a renegade group of art activists whose work has taken them flurrying quasi-legally from one acid-house embracing city to the next, all across Europe. At Glastonbury their presence can be pretty much guaranteed from one year to the next; acres of the transient city that makes up the festival are dedicated to themed areas controlled wholly by the MWC, and the magnificently arranged scrap metal that they bring with them, ranging from your humble knackered old car, to, say, a Mig 21.


The two machines photographed above are functional, and make up part of a parade that can be seen patrolling Shangri-La, Block 9 and The Unfairground, usually crewed by a Mad-Max a-like group of tattooed, pierced neo-cavepeople of quite unparalleled charisma and confidence, and whose female contingent are plenty attractive, in a Tank-Girl kind of way. You admire them, you fear them, and you’re probably drunk by this stage so you throw your hands up and get to dancing, with the artillery-grade sound systems that each vehicle carries providing the beat.

MWC are pretty damn good at set-dressing, too, and of course my eyes are drawn to the equipment rather than the aesthetic. I will typically spend hours looking around; identifying turbofan engines, recognising fuselages and de-mystifying obscure metallic relics that must, in some way, be awesome. And of course there are cars.


This Jaguar XJS appeared two years in a row, once in the elevated position you see here, and again (with a different paint scheme) alongside an MGB GT welcoming people to “Reverend Sharkey’s Church of the Holy Roller”. The XJS, as you can see from the curved treatment of the rear side window, is a late post ’91 model, though it’s unclear whether it’s a ‘six or a ‘twelve.


There was also this unassailably cool mirror-mosaic’d Ford Capri, standing nose down in the mud and catching the glint from a million high candela searchlights, lasers and strobes, and looking trippy enough to freak out even those few of us who didn’t have LSD coursing through their veins. Apologies for the rotated image, it just made more sense this way around, despite the disembodied heads jutting into view.

So, what of vehicular activity outside the wonderful carnage that the Mutoid Waste Company create?

The Glastonbury Festival and all that it represents rather meshes with the interests of the New Age Traveller, who are known for their fondness of old vehicles, often kept running on a shoestring budget through a combination of determination, pride and poverty. Hence you will often come across working vehicles at festivals that are very rarely seen in “the real world“.


Like this Morris FG which acts as the underpinnings for a very smart yet undeniably rustic motorhome. The FG was always a favourite of mine, with those cleverly designed front quarter windows that helped drivers to manoeuvre in confined spaces, and doors that tapered inward to the rear for the same reason.

Rarer still is what we have below.


I captured this in 2001, on my third Glastonbury attendance, age 20. At that point I had literally no idea what I was looking at, albeit I had a strong suspicion that it might be on its last legs. A little research after getting home and sobering up revealed that it had been a 1985 Landmaster.

Intended as a rival to the Land Rover, the Landmaster was based on bits of Dodge full-size pickup truck, except with a tubular steel chassis. It was largely a hand-built vehicle and full series production never happened, despite the Ministry Of Defence registering an interest, but not actually coughing up any actual money. A DVLA registration search reveals that this example was last registered in 2007, and carried the 3.8 litre Perkins diesel engine. I presume that the top section of the bodywork is home-brew.

Speaking of home-brew, how about a Renault Trafic van with bodywork repair work effected through the introduction of a big section of steel domestic garage door? Yes, we can do that:


Magnificent. Or a Honda Prelude with a psychedelic, no-way-back, next-journey-is-to-the-junkyard paintjob?


Splendid. The thing is, with all the crazy, creative and characterful cars vying for my attention, vehicles that would be notable outside the impregnable and fortress-like Glastonbury Perimeter Fence literally disappear under the radar here. For instance:


The Citroen H Van. I took a photo of this one, thinking it quite quirky, nice to see, a turn-up for the books et cetera. Then I realised that the Glastonbury site is absolutely flooded with the old lugs, all fitted out for the dispensary of coffee, cakes, sandwiches, crepes, doughnuts and other comestible delights. And, inevitably, all purely intending to separate revellers from their cash.

Indeed, far from saying “oh, cool” on spotting an “H”, the angular Citroen fast became my nemesis. In the hemp-smoking (optional), alcohol-doused (obligatory), peace and equality-loving Glastonbury spirit, the Citroen “H” represented The Enemy. Identified by a constant queue of parched punters who really should have known better, they might as well have been operated by Starbucks in league with Al Qaeda and Big Incorporated Conglomerated International. Gordon Gecko, Greed is good, Wall Street. No thanks.

This year, sadly, I’ve not managed to procure Glastonbury tickets. They therefore owe me. I’ll be back next year, ready to ignore the Citroens with impunity.

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5 responses to “The Weird and Wonderful Vehicles of Glastonbury”

  1. toxicavenger1 Avatar

    Looks like a very eccentric group,must have been fun for you. The vehicles remind of the "art cars" at burning Man.

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    So, it's like Burning Man, but with rain and funnier accents.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    It took me a while to realize the aspect ratio wasn't off with the lead Range Rover picture.

  4. joshuman Avatar

    Somehow I got addicted to BBC Radio 1 in about 1999. The BBC has always been nice about streaming audio over the Internet. They used to do special broadcasts from the festival (they might still but all the on-air personalities I used to care about are dead or have moved on to other activities). Camping in the muck, drinking, ordering dodgy food from Citroens, and listening to a lot of music sounds like a good time. They never show this kind of stuff on the broadcasts.

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    All that mud reminds me of the Pate Swap Meet, when it was still at the old Pate Museum of Transportation, south of Fort Worth.