A party at Beaulieu

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I have remarked previously on how well Lord Montagu looks after his guests and the Press when they visit his stately home and Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest—rather better, I suspect, than his rivals in Stately Home Stakes. On August 20th last he extended this noted hospitality to readers of his magazine, offering them free access to Palace House, the Abbey, Motor and Maritime Museums, etc., and tea in the Downs to the accompaniment of vintage jazz played by the local band.

The idea was that those arriving in vintage cars would have access to the rally field. In fact, this was extended to cars made up to 1940. Then before tea, Peter Sellers and his wife, Brit Ekland, who were Lord Montagu’s guests at his beach house, would look round and decide which of the assembled cars they would most like to own.

The outgoing traffic was awful, with dormant repairs reducing the latter part of the Winchester By-Pass to a single-file lane, in which .a decrepit post-war vehicle had chosen to break down— the verges were lined with steaming moderns, but the 1930 Sunbeam 16 I was using never approached boiling point. . . .

We arrived .eventually to find some interesting vehicles present. The “veterans” constituted two model-T Fords and a 1910 Daimler. The vintage contingent comprised, among many others, a r.w.b. Bean two-seater, an Erskine saloon with ingenious f.w.b. mechanism, Burnett’s crowd-collecting low-chassis Daimler Double Six coupe, surely the greatest of the white elephants, a vintage Swift tourer with, in the prevailing traffic, a much needed f.w.b. triangle on a rear mudguard, and a Swift Swallow saloon. here were sonic nice 3-litre Bentleys, including a r.w.b. tourer, a very fine Humber tourer, a Seal 3-wheeler, a 1924 side-valve 15.7 h.p. Wolseley 14 two-seater with the “W”s still unworn on clutch and brake pedals, and a twin-pot Jowett saloon, although the latter belonged, like a Morris 10/4 two-seater and a smart Morris 16 Oxford saloon, to the 30s/40s section. Early motorcycles, preparing for the Sunbeam M.C,C.’s Graham Walker Memorial Rally the next day, included Triumph, Buchet and a P. & M. with hub gears. In the background stood the brightly-lined Veteran & Vintage Magazine Morris Commercial van.

Lord Montagu arrived with his guests in the 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Roi de Belges tourer and I am delighted to report that Peter Sellers had the good sense to pick as the most desirable vehicle present a beautifully restored M.A.G.-engined Grand Prix Morgan 3-wheeler, which had come accompanied by a later version of the breed. It was immaculate and entirely original, even to gas lamps. Brit Ekland picked as “hers” a sports Fiat Balillia, in spite of its non-original plated outside exhaust system and spring steering wheel—so henceforth we can regard thew as girls’ cars. A nice Chummy Austin 7 was runner-up.

After which the readers took tea. We must remember to remind His Lordship that he promised to repeat this pleasant party, perhaps in 1977!

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