What a difference a day makes. This morning the sun is shining into my study from a crisp and clear blue spring morning sky. Yesterday we left here on a misty miserable morning in a 1980’s Targa because I wanted to demonstrate its handling capabilities to my friend – there were times when its capabilities as a kayak may have been easier to appreciate! So I can understand why my friend and fellow member, Michael Eatough thought better than to subject his beloved ‘Reggie’ (a 1959 ‘Fintail’ Mercedes which has survived the arduous challenge of the Peking to Paris rally) from an outing in such torrential rain. What is ironic however is that such a navigational expert who has crossed Asia and Europe, including deserts often without any discernible roads, would arrive late because he was unable to find Bibury!
Seriously, it was wonderful to be at The Classic Motor Hub yesterday to catch up with Michael and the many other club members who have not been able to gather like this since pre Covid. I am sure we all welcome this return to normality.
The Classic Motor Hub owner and founder Martin Chisholm hosted our visit and explained The Hub is dedicated to classic motoring bringing together expertise in sales, restoration, maintenance and storage of classic vehicles concentrated on a five-acre site which was an historic RAF WWII base.
Martin treated the group to a tour of an extraordinary collection of predominantly pre-war vehicles owned by an Argentinian collector. W O Bentley’s products were well represented including a stunning 8 litre tourer with a windscreen of letterbox proportions and was the only chassis of this type made. Alongside it another Bentley which had been ‘rebodied’ using the original fabric construction to accommodate an enlarged driving space.
Martin confessed that the more ‘modern’ cars of the 50’s and 60’s were not his areas of expertise but he described the history of both the Aston Martin DB3S Works car which came 2nd at Le Mans twice and of the DB5 Volante next to it. The ownership history and evolution through cycle wings and back to the flowing wings and running boards of a magnificent black Alfa 8C was described with enthusiastic detail (the rather more contemporary red Alfa 8C in the corner didn’t even warrant a mention!). The significance of the Bentley referred to a ’Old Number 9’ was offered as the justification for the magnificent ‘recreation’ of the ‘Blower Bentley’ (chassis number one of the series of continuation vehicles created by Bentley Motors). The purpose of this vehicle in effect is ‘sacrificial’ so that it could be ‘used and abused’ and as such preserve the originals. Members may have noticed that Martin mentioned that John Bentley, a B100 member from the very start, manufactured an unspecified number of new superchargers for the Blower Bentleys. Essential apparently as the magnesium alloy in some of the castings degrades over time.
Martin also highlighted a connection between the National Motor Museums’ 1903 Gordon Bennett Trophy Napier 7.7 litre car and a number of Napier’s’ in their collection. They have the 1902 Gordon Bennett cup winning Napier which he thought was a 6.5 litres 35hp model These cars were the beginning of ‘British Racing Green’ as our national motor racing colour because Gordon Bennett sought to have nation against nation in competition, each distinguished by a national colour. Another of the cars in the collection is the Hutton Napier produced for a privateer to campaign in the T.T. of 1908 but did not want to brand as a Napier – this changed of course when it won the race!
I have to mention the lovely little green Porsche 911 and Aston DB5 Vantage that did not feature in Martin’s excellent commentary although the Ferrari 225S Berlinetta and 275GTB did. All lovely cars in my view as were the cars in the sales showroom – Aston’s, Jaguars and Ferraris a plenty. Was anybody tempted?
What a great trip. Thank-you Heather. The only request in future is that we try to avoid monsoon weather!
Ed note: Thank you to Mike Timmins for his great summary of the day and to Martin Chisholm for hosting the B100 members on the day.