Memories of vehicles from our past…

It’s been a while since we blogged but it’s a bit of a quiet time car wise, Mario is safely tucked away from the inclement weather and the new season’s events still seem a while away (although it is less 5 weeks to the Goodwood 73rd Members Meeting). Plus we have had most of our spare time taken up with organising the Haslemere Classic Car Show & Tour!

However while looking through some old photo’s I got to thinking about the cars from our past…

As a child my father was car-mad following formula one and rallying but with his own transport had rather dubious taste. He has been a ‘Ford’ man for his entire driving life (and while we’re about it always used Michelin Tyres and Shell Fuel) starting with a Ford Prefect before I was born. After I arrived he moved on to a Ford Anglia, this was crashed into and rolled when I was a baby – asleep in the back, I was handed out through the broken rear window into the arms of a passing woman who nearly dropped me as she thought I was dead! In fact I slept through the whole experience and have just a fleeting memory of a Doctor telling my Mother to keep me awake in the hospital. The Anglia was brought back from the insurance company and repaired but my Mum never liked it again and so it was passed on to my paternal Grandparents who kept it for years and I enjoyed many happy days out in the back.

My Dad progressed through a series of Fords – White Cortinas which I remember on holidays in Cornwall and the endless telling-off’s for filling them with sand and wildlife! He progressed to an Escort Ghia, pictured here in Wales in 1978 with a ‘glamorous’ 15 year old model. In a very 70’s bronze with a black vinyl roof, the personal numberplate came from the previous owner believed to be the actor Terence Rattigan.scan101Dad went on to have a Mid-life Crisis and owned a bright red Ford Capri before settling down to more mundane Orion (which was Stolen) and a Focus. With this rather restricted experience of cars one could wonder how my own love of cars developed but my Mother and maternal Grandfather, who lived with us, more than made up for Dad.

Grandad, who I adored had a very varied selection of what now would be considered ‘desirable’ everyday classics, a Wolsley, Morris Minor, Triumph Dolomite, a gorgeous primrose Yellow Triumph Herald, an Allegro, a Peugeot 104 and a Triumph 1300, which the steering wheel came off while driving down the A3!

My mother who, while I was small, transported me around on the back of her bicycle upgraded to an A30 when I started school, I have very fond memories of piling in the back with, what was probably an illegal number of friends and setting off for days at the seaside, having to park on the flat as the handbrake wasn’t very good. I also recall waking up one morning to find the A30 up on bricks as the wheels had been stolen, and no my parents lived in a ‘good area’. The A30 was upgraded to a white Mini Countryman ‘Snow White’ – room for more kids in the back and then an Anglia Estate, as we got bigger.

By the time I reached 17 I was desperate to learn to drive, I’d already been taught the basics on the old army camp up the road and on the morning of my 17th birthday proudly set off with my Mum in our Fiat 850 – called Tetley as it had 1000 little perforations, if you are old enough you will understand!old-scans085Poor Tetley’s perforations got the better of her and she didn’t last long and I took my test in a Ford Escort 1300GT, the shame of a two Ford family. By this time James and I were an item, he’d been car obsessed since he was born, amazing as his family only saw cars as transport and had to buy a Ladybird book to keep up with his interest. He started big with a Maserati 250F..IMG_4891…but by the time we were dating has ‘progressed to a Gilera Motorbike, this was incredibly noisy and I could hear him arriving from a mile away!IMG_1389

We both had a love of cars and used to visit shows and events. James’ first car was a Mini, this was followed up by an Avenger which he wrote off and a Ford Cortina with a Webasto sunroof and a brown fur interior – you would have thought this would have put me off but it was the early 80’s!

The roll call continued with a Fiesta and then a Renault 5 Gordini, this was a lovely car, fast – I drove at over 100mph for the first time! We took it on holiday to Europe.

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The Gordini was sold to fund the purchase of his first real classic, a 1961 3.8 Mark 2 Jaguar. Again we took it all over the place to lots of shows and it was a lovely car, although it did catch fire once on Hindhead Hill! Pre-mobile by the time somebody had driven to call the fire brigade James had put it out with a blanket, I of course was paranoid that it would blow up like all the cars in the Movies. The Jag was used as a wedding car for our oldest friends wedding in 1988, James as Best Man had to be at the church so he had to intrust the job of driving the bride to church to my Dad, I don’t know who was most relieved to see the car show up James or the groom!scan099

James continued with more Mini’s, some for the road and some for Racing and Sprinting and a 1275GT, rolled by his cousin on one memorable boxing day when they popped out for a ‘quick spin’ returning about three hours later on a tow truck. Plus of course he had numerous cars for rallying which I wrote about in the last post and another bike – a Triumph Bonneville.scan095Scan 13 Scan 19

When I was at college James brought me my first classic a 1950’s Austin A35 in Speedwell Blue, I loved it and we went all over the place on A35 club events. On the way back from Longleat we had severe overheating problems and the head gasket had failed, this resulted in us taking the car to Kent to use a friends garage and completely overhauling the engine. This was my introduction to being ‘Mechanics Mate’, being given all the dirty jobs and I still wasn’t put off.old-scans038old-scans190 scan090 scan091 scan092 scan093old-scans047-mid80s scan094I loved the A35 and it was great fun, however I eventually was given a company car and had a new shiny Peugeot 205. This was the first of a series of small Peugeots and I still have a, now rather old, 206GTI as an everyday car today.scan096The convenience of a new car and with our time taken up with houses and jobs the poor A35 was left at my parents and needed rather a lot of work to get it back up to scratch. So in 1994 when we decided to buy Regie a Renault 4CV convertible from the South of France we popped the A35 on the trailer and gave it to some friends in St Paul de Vence, it’s probably still in the garage we popped it into 20 years ago.scan097 scan098We took Regie home and restored him as per our previous post, then around 1996 James popped off mysteriously to France and came home with a Citroen H-van or ‘Grumpy’ truck. I’d been coveting one of these for years but it was a complete surprise when he turned up with one off the ferry at 6am. We had great fun with the truck putting upholstered bench seats in the back so large groups of us could go out and picnic at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We also took the truck on one of the Footman James Retro Runs to Silverstone where we got to do a lap of the track – dressed as french farmers with a Pantomime cow in the back Silverstone had seen nothing like it and we won the C&SC Spirit of the Event award, I believe that the historic lap was captured on video, I’d love to see it if anyone has a copy.retrorun059Unfortunately the Grumpy Truck really needed too much work doing to it and we had neither the time or money so it was used as a ‘shed’ for a number of years until it was eventually sold for spares.

The next classic was  of course Mario followed by Nippy the Subaru 360, both of which are still in the family and have of course Regie and are all here to stay. So who knows what the future will bring, you’ll have to keep reading the blog…
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Festival fun… Part one

This weekend was our annual trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We are lucky enough to live quite close to Goodwood so it is easy for us to get there without the cost of having to stay. This year I took my 81 year old Father, a lifelong motorsport fan, on Thursday to the Moving Motor Show as part of his birthday present. On Friday James and I went to the Bonham’s auction as James (a classic car restorer and broker) was looking at a car for a client. Saturday we had a day at home but popped down in the evening to see the Festival Ball fireworks and on Sunday we had another day at the event with a friend.

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Regie the 4cv Renault in the enthusiasts car park, looks like we are at a country fete! Today this would be just off the cricket pitch right in the middle of the event.

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The F1 paddock 1994

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Stripy tape hold the crowds back in 1994

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Many of the cars were parked outside the house.

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Just a single row of short bales line the track

The event has changed a lot since the first one in 1993, in the early days it was very relaxed and a great opportunity to get close to famous drivers and see extraordinary cars never seen before in the UK. Unfortunately over the years the event has been a bit of a victim of it’s own success and the daily crowd of around 50,000 means it is very busy and good old ‘health and safety’ has meant more barriers and less access.

There used to be more older vehicles but since the addition of the Revival meeting in 1998 the Festival had gradually become more modern and technically based. While I enjoy being able to see the F1 and rally cars I’m really not interested in super cars and the crowds of excited ‘boys’ gathered round them. In the ‘old days’ one could actually meet and chat to the great drivers of yesteryear but now the modern F1 ‘stars’ are kept hidden away in hospitality and protected by minders, unfortunately rather necessary with the gaggle of team-wear clad fans clambering for autographs.

We are probably rather spoilt as we have been able to go to all but one of the 22 Festivals and hence there isn’t much new to see these days but don’t get me wrong, we do have a good time and it’s a great social event and an opportunity to catch up with our motoring friends far and wide. Despite the forecast the weather was good and sunny most of the time, I’d love to know what Lord March does to ensure such favourable conditions for the event, although it’s most likely just down to a micro-climate at the base of the South Downs.

Central Feature
Every year a manufacturer is celebrated with the sculpture outside the house, this year was Mercedes and it went right over the house. Not one of my favourites but it did grow on me over the weekend.DSC03188 DSC03191 DSC03212 Goodwood-Festival-of-Speed-2014-Roof-Shots-Friday-16055

Bonhams Auction
The Bonhams auction is very prestigious and attracts a large number of very valuable cars and automobilia. The sale achieved £22.6 million including a World Auction Record for a Ferrari Sports racing car when the 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus sold for £10.7 million. A 1902 De Dietrich sold for astounding £998,300 and one of the most iconic sports cars of the 20th Century – a 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 ‘Periscopio’ Coupé – sold for a new world record £953,500.

I thought that this Bonnet Mascot by Antoire Bofill from 1910 must have been seen by the creators of Shrek’s Puss in Boots.DSC02996PussbootsVettel’s Helmet as worn at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix and uniquely painted for the event was sold for charity and went for £20,000.
DSC02991 Mario loved this Golf cart moulded from a original Fiat Jolly. It was made in 2008 and used by Lord March at the 2008 Revival. Fiat looked into manufacturing a limited number but changed their mindDSC02987 1935 Aston Martin UlsterDSC02855 My personal favourite was this 1939-40 Aston Martin Atom factory prototype concept car.DSC02858In the middle of the auction marquee we saw this box in the floor protecting a rare orchid growing underneath.DSC03010Manufacturers
Since the demise of the London Motor Show, Thursday’s Moving Motorshow has taken it’s place and perspective buyers can test drive new cars up the hill climb. Most of the major manufacturers attend and all vie with each other to attract the publics attention. Many new models are launched at the show and various concept cars are on display. The manufacturers stands have become very luxurious with multi stories and interactive features to entertain the family. Several of them have exclusive areas for owners on presentation of your keys. We had great hospitality from Jaguar including lovely little pies.DSC03110 Not so sure about a concept crossover Jaguar. Look at the size of those wheels!DSC03105 This Nissan concept was the result of a competition run around the world for young designers. Nissan were so impressed with the London teams designs that they had this concept built in three weeks.DSC03099 Another Nissan concept produced from the top results from a project where people around the world were asked to interactively design a car by making selections while wearing an virtual reality headset. Quite an interesting result with a retro feel but why in ‘hearing aid’ beige?DSC03097 Great lengths were taken to hide new cars to the moment of their unveiling but driving a covered car blind seemed to be taking it to new extremes.DSC03087Formula 1
One of the big things about the FoS is that most of the F1 teams come along and run their ‘almost’ current cars. This year a bigger ‘pit lane’ had been added with more space which made it easier to see the cars although we didn’t venture anywhere near when the drivers were around. McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams and Renault were on all display. It is very interesting to see how the cars have developed and until you see them together what you consider being a modern formula 1 car such as this 1994 Benetton Ford, that Schumacher drove, now looks very old fashioned and many of them look incredibly wide.

DSC02769 Even at the festival, lots of kit was required.DSC02765 Current F1 cars are extremely complicated.DSC02756DSC02713 DSC02730 It was nice to see that Williams have a tribute to Ayrton Senna on the nose.DSC02729 While the Mercedes has a rather cute little grill.DSC02715
The ‘garages’ are very slick.DSC02711 The F1 cars attract the most attention, the worlds journalists and photographers gathered around the Ferrari awaiting festival newcomer Kimi Räikkönen!DSC03431Part two to follow tomorrow (hopefully)…

 

Hot hot hot…

…the weather and the cars at the 20th anniversary Goodwood Festival of Speed.DSC00723

We had several days at the wonderful Goodwood Festival of Speed. Unfortunately there isn’t much point leaving ‘Mario’ parked in a dusty field so he stays at home. Starting on the Thursday which is the ‘Moving Motorshow’ day, this is much quieter and a good opportunity to have a look around without so many people, most of the displays seemed to be in position but it was only modern manufacturers using the hill for test drives.

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This years central sculpture was celebrating 50 years of the Porsche 911, taller than ever the minimalist structure soared into the air over the house displaying three 911’s at the top.

Our favourite areas as usual were the Cathedral Paddock and the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe Lawn’ where some absolutely beautiful cars were on display. The fifty years of McLaren feature was also well designed and layed out using quotes and footage of the companies history and the late Bruce McLarens own experiences, the new road cars looked impressive.DSC00771DSC01201DSC01202

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DSC00553DSC00562 DSC01043 DSC01044The Bonham’s auction on Friday attracted a great deal of attention, especially when the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater became the most valuable motor car ever sold at auction. The car that took five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio to the second of his Formula 1 world titles achieved a record-breaking figure of £19,601,500 (US$29,650,095, €22,701,864). Although a very famous car with lots of history and the only one not owned by Mercedes it didn’t really look that impressive, it would be difficult to know what to do with it as if it was restored to be raced it would lose all the knocks and scrapes which are it’s history and value.DSC00599 DSC00616

The F1 teams were in attendance as usual with a good smattering of regular and test drivers, the F1 paddock is always so busy and nowhere near as open as in the early days of the FoS when you could chat (and cuddle!) current drivers of the time such as Eddie Irving, these days the drivers have their own minders and are whisked away from the crowds, still it’s closer than you’ll get to them anywhere else. On Thursday I took my Dad for his 80th birthday, he has been a lifelong McLaren fan and the team very kindly let him into their area to take some pictures with the cars, this is what makes Goodwood special.DSC00632 DSC00654 DSC00657 DSC00697

The cricket pitch had been transformed to a strip of desert with some of the greatest land speed cars, the great scene setting was helped by the blazing sun.DSC01425On Friday afternoon we made it up to the top of the hill to the rally stage, although rather dusty it was brilliant to see old and new rally cars being driven in anger.DSC00897 DSC00898 DSC00926 DSC00944

We had a day at home on Saturday but popped down in the evening to see the Ball Fireworks. Always spectacular, they fill the sky and following an amazing show with acrobats, water fountains, motorbikes and this year a McLaren car to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event. DSC01099 DSC01130 DSC01140 DSC01145 DSC01155 DSC01183

There are loads of stalls, food and major car manufacturers there but I have to praise Ford for a fantastic stand. A ‘scaffold’ tower displaying their new cars with a roof complete with deckchairs for viewing and complimentary photographs and most welcome in the heat, an endless supply of orange lollies, we managed to be at the top for both the Red Arrows Display on Friday and the Eurofighter Typhoon on Sunday as well as watching the twenty years parade go up the hill.DSC00711DSC00822 DSC00832 DSC00858 DSC00863 DSC00876DSC01475DSC01480DSC01363DSC01367 DSC01368 DSC01370 DSC01385 DSC01400 DSC01401 DSC01406 - Version 2In all it was a relaxed and social weekend, meeting up with lots of friends while being surrounded by some of the world’s most extraordinary vehicles. The weekend finished with the prize giving when Lord March was joined on stage by some of motorsports greats – Sir Stirling Moss, Jochen Mass, Derek Bell, Jackie Ickx, Damon Hill, John Surtees, Emerson Fittipaldi, Kevin Schwantz, Emanuele Pirro, Dougie Lampkin and Peter Fonda. Afterwards we were treated to a set played by the Eagles lead guitarist Don Felder who had performed at the ball the previous night, a great end to a fabulous weekend – sipping champagne in the evening sunshine listening to Hotel California! DSC01513 DSC01523 DSC01540 DSC01547 DSC01570