A very British tradition
There is nothing better than to do something exciting on New Year’s Day, start the year as you plan to continue. Wrap up warm and venture out. I took myself over to Brooklands Motor Museum where a gathering of Classic, Vintage and Veteran cars and motorcycles congregated.
It is an annual public event allowing a sneak preview into the historic world of the home of British motor sport. The Museum is fully open along with cafes and bars (providing hot tea and cocoa should the weather demand it).
I met up with Simon Cundy and Vittorio, two Fiat 500 owners. Vittorio now works with the Ferrari Formula 1 ‘spent’ car team, selling these thoroughbred vehicles to enthusiasts who collect and race them on classic circuit, having worked within the Ferrari mechanics team for the majority of his career he has a specialist knowledge of how the highly-strung cars work and like to be treated.
Vittorio proudly has a ‘Schumacher’ sticker in his 500 and I ask if he drove this red fiat?
“No not this one but I worked with him at Ferrari so I had the sticker from the F1 car, it looks great on the little Fiat. Michael was looking to get one actually and wanted to drive my ‘Sicilia’ but now he has an Abarth and an original 500. However, this one was driven by Lady March (Alexandra) up the hill at Goodwood last year at the Festival of Speed in the same group as the F1 cars.”
Simon who has the blue Fiat 500 (Luigi), was bought after he and his wife had fallen in love with them whilst in Italy. “I thought it my be to outrageous with the blue exterior and red seats but actually I think it stands out quite well indeed.” Quite modest really coming from one of Saville Row’s leading tailors, Henry Poole.
You will find a whole variety of cars here at Brooklands today from a Gull wings (DeLorean and Mercedes 300 SL) to E Types and Vintage.
Biting into a hardy hot roll were Barry Watson and his chum Brian Kingsley. Both chaps comfortably sitting in a Standard, a car inherited from Barry’s father, who acquired it in 1948. Although this car is drenched in British history, Barry tells me that he has recently taken part in the Gordon Bennett Rally in Ireland, where he drove a 1910 Model G, a car which he managed to obtain through swapping eight grandfather clocks, two French clocks and a waxed head of Sir Winston Churchill. That I do believe is a decent exchange.
From Top: Fiat 500, DeLorean and Maserati 4000, 1938 Standard, track & Ladies Reading Room at Brooklands
Walking over to the steep banks of what is left today of the Brooklands track, Simon Cundy shows me the square yard that he believes is his. In a fundraising spree last march, Brooklands were eager to raise money for the museum, sold off parts of the track in square yards with historic drivers and their cars as part of the memorable sale. For example a 1933 Napier Railton would be at the top of the track being a unique purchase and perhaps a Fraser Nash would be a little further towards the flat being a cheaper end of the Brooklands bank ‘yard’ sale. They are still fundraising and I believe there is further purchasable track to lay your feet on.
After stepping into the ladies reading room first opened in 1930 and decorated with photos of drivers such as Joan Richmond, Kay Petre, Doreen Evans and Flying Fay Taylor, I discovered I was able to acquire my dream car, the Mercedes 300 SL. Yes, I chose wisely and with a careful saving strategy, I bought the beauty at what I consider to be a bargain price. (It may be only 3.5 inches long, It is however still a Mercedes 300 SL).
Put the Brooklands New Years Day gathering in your diary for next year. If you ask nicely they may even make you a Bloody Mary!
For further info please see Brooklands Motor Museum
As always I would like to thank Leica for allowing me to shoot in the rain and with such grey skies of England. Photos shot using M9 and 50mm Noctilux.