New Year Cheer

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On New Year’s Day VSCC members gather at various hostelries to celebrate the forthcoming season of activity and endeavour. For those in Herefordshire and the Welsh border this means going to The Verdons near Ledbury, for Mark Garfitt’s traditional party. This time just over 100 pre-war cars filled the car-park, with friendly aliens in a field alongside. Too many to list but noticed were Judy and Roger Collings with the 1913 Zust, two Edwardian Buicks of Southall and Fenton, a cluster of GP Bugattis and two Brescias, Moffatt’s now with one of these new-fangled electrical conveniences for starting its engine, which thus draws it faintly closer to an EB110. The other Brescia belonged to Rodney Felton, who had brought three other cars, his Testarossa Ferrari, his Monza Alfa Romeo, John Harper ‘up’, and his 2.9 Alfa driven by his wife.

The Alvis marque totted up eleven cars, Morgans and A7s about eight each, the latter including Seymour Price’s rapid Ulster, a fabric saloon and my 1931 saloon (on its maiden voyage since overhaul and smitten with problems), representing the trio from the Principality. Nicholson brought a very smart 9.5hp Renault tourer, Luscot Evans his Trojan and Chris Clark came in the isolated dignity of his handsome straight-eight Lanchester, flying a Union Flag as if remembering that it was built in pre-EEC days, when this country had a reputable Motor Industry, 30/98s mingled with the Bentleys, as Happy New Year was bandied about. Before leaving I had a run on Greville Neale’s 1904 Aster and was made to present the Landlord’s bottle-of-bubbly to the driver coming the longest distance, RCI Browning, who had come the 102 miles or so from Sandbach, home of the Foden steamwaggons, in his 1933 TT Replica Frazer Nash (he told me that the Foden factory is even now being demolished, another historic building lost). It is a time of don’t drink and drive but we know that members of the Chain Gang never open a bottle until they get home, don’t we? Last year’s winner, AC Stephens from Neath, in his Lagonda, was only a mile or two short of target. Among more modern cars the Traction Avant Citroen fraternity contributed a saloon and a very fine Roadster. WB

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