Veteran Edwardian Vintage, February 1973

A section devoted to old-car matters

1973.—Another intense season of veteran, Edwardian, vintage, post-vintage-thoroughbred and merely old-vehicle activities is about to start, proclaimed by last month’s Entry into Europe Rally from London to Brussels with Mr. Heath, the Prime Minister, as official starter. There is now such an all-engulfing interest in every conceivable aspect of the game, going far beyond cars, that those who dabbled happily with the ancients before the war, perhaps because they could not afford anything modern, are frequently sickened by the present immensity of it all. Those who love money more than motors are now in the forefront of a movement which has grown out of simple liking for good machinery and an appreciation of history. Pre-war cars are now very much part of the grab-grab of Big Business.

This is inevitable, but none the more palatable for that. MOTOR SPORT deliberately ignores vintage-car auction sales while doing its humble best to protect the movement, the hobby as it once was, from undesirable developments and restrictions. But with a post-war Sunbeam-Talbot valued at £1,200 and a mid-1930s Standard Nine at £950, excellent as these cars may have been in their day, I can but shed a tear for impecunious youngsters who are financially shouldered-out and wonder if it is all still worthwhile, or whether inflation and greed have ruined it?

Fortunately, such depression is soon dispelled by the sight of VSCC, VCC and VMCC members actually using their “priceless heirlooms” for fun and games and races, and, what is more, taking these pleasures quite lightheartedly. Yes, even in Type 35B Bugattis worth £16,500 . . . .

I incline to a belief that there is not much need for any old-vehicle Clubs other than the VSCC, VCC, VMCC and HCVC and, of course, the many useful one-make organisations. I deplore rising costs, “collector’s items”, dealers who refuse to price the ancients they advertise, and museums which, unlike Lord Montagu’s, never release their exhibits from captivity. I am appalled to hear of enthusiasts imprisoned in America for up to 60 days for having on their premises untidy old vehicles they intend to restore. I am alarmed when rumour says Councils in this country are taking aerial photographs of private land with a view to clamping down on the private possession of derelict objects and unauthorised buildings. I shall fight this kind of encroachment on the liberty of the individual as hard as I can, if rumour becomes fact, taking as my stand the good news that HRH the Duke of Edinburgh has become Patron of the Transport Trust.

Nothing can now stem the public’s grip on the “old cars”. Soon the rallies, parades, and charity assemblies will be on again by the score, some good, some poor, some downright appalling, to which the “guardians of history” will take their ancient vehicles, in return for free plaques, free teas and lots of publicity. They will be gaped at, pressed on, sat in and have their horns blown and their brightwork fingered, by children of all ages. They will be loudly proclaimed by journalists and radio and TV commentators some of whom have never driven anything older than the office saloon and who have only recently, if now, ceased to refer to what they applaud as “old Crocks”. That’s how it is and nothing can put back the clock . . .

So let me conclude with some of the worthwhile fixtures. The VSCC will have its two Silverstone Race Meetings, the first on April 28th, and will go to Llandow circuit in lieu of Thruxton at the end of the season. It will also have its usual Prescott hill-climb, etc.

The VCC has its Brighton Run traditionally in November and its usual regional happenings. The HCVC will have another London-Brighton Commercial Vehicle Run on May 6th and its Trans-Pennine Run on August 5th, while there is talk of a big rally at Peckham Rye early in June. The VMCC will hold its Banbury Run on June 17th and other important motorcycle fixtures. On the International front EWA will have rallies centred on Le Mans from 28-29th April, Barcelona from 27th May-2nd June, Graz, Austria, from 13-16th June, Geneva from 21st-24th June, Luxembourg from 29th June-1st July, Berlin from 5-7th July, Utrecht, Holland, from 24-26th August, Istanbul from 5-9th September, Athens from 14-16th September, and Wels, Austria, from 21st-23rd September. I assume that after that you can take in your stride all the autojumbles, flea-pits, filmshows, socials, tram-festivals, steam-occasions, omnibus meets, and driving-tests associated with the old-vehicle movement?—W.B.