Silverstone Classic – July 2008

At the core of the Silverstone Classic event, there are 21 races, spread over a 3 day period, for a wide variety of sporting cars, ranging from Formula 1 machines from the 1980s, the Group C cars of even more recent pedigree, though saloon cars from the 1960s, one make events for Aston-Martin and Porsche and all the way back to racing cars from the 1920s. Most of the races are for 20 minutes, but a few are for a full 90 minutes, with the added interest of a driver change during the proceedings. Drivers vary, too, from very accomplished former professionals, through to pure amateurs. We came across Rowan Atkinson, fully kitted out and ready to race, yesterday, and doubtless there were other celebrities taking part, too. There were a few thrills and spills, though nothing too serious beyond some bent metal and a fresh trail of oil on the circuit. However, the Silverstone Classic is more than just a wallow in nostalgia – and make no mistake, it certainly hits the mark in that regard – as there are huge display areas given over to a wide variety of owners clubs, who delight in bringing out all sorts of rarities for the race-goers to enjoy. Last year, I concluded that there was too much to see in one day, and so I planned to make a whole weekend of the event, and I am glad I did, as even then, I sure there are things I missed. As well as seeing different cars out on the track, the cars on display were quite different, with many cars attending only on one day.

It seems appropriate to start with Porsche, as without doubt they had the largest one make display, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Porsche company. At a guess, there were probably over 300 Porsches in their main area on Saturday, and with some rows not complete, I would presume that Sunday when the rows were filled up, they could have mustered 500 cars. A truly incredible sight, which would probably best be appreciated from the air! Cars were neatly arranged by model type. Porsche Silverstone were clearly hoping to sell cars, as they had representatives of the latest models on show, including the new DRL-equipped 911s:

At one end of the display were these gorgeous Porsche tractors. The smaller one, dating from 1963, designed for vineyards and the larger from 1958.
The first Porsche car, the 356 was well represented.
914 and 916 – often forgotten in the UK, but sold in surprising numbers in the US, with over 10,000 cars made between 1970 and 1976
911s from every era were of course the dominant car.
The Speedster
An amazing array of 911 Club Sports
The little liked 964 model 911RS, in some very period colours
944 and 968
Even a couple of Cayennes made it into the display
The “ultimate” Porsche, perhaps: the Carrera GT.
Later, we came across a second Carerra GT. The first one I had ever seen in red, which I thought perhaps not its most flattering colour, but what a car! This one was parked at the Hospitality Suites where last year we saw a McLaren GTR.
A third example was to be found in the paddock area:
In fact, these were the first cars that I saw on crossing the bridge from the car park areas. Much was made of the competition department of Rootes Group, with pride of place given to 3 Hillman Hunters from the victorious 1968 London to Sydney Marathon event, which this car so memorably won.
Rootes had been successful in motor sport before this, of course, notching up much silverware with the Sunbeam Talbots in the 1950s, with cars such as these:
Successor to this car was the Rapier, launched in 1955, as a sporting version of the more prosaic Minx
A true sports car came with the 1959 launch of the Sunbeam Alpine.
By the 1970s, motor sport was less of a priority, but the Avenger was entered in the Touring Car championship and enjoyed some success.
The Talbot Sunbeam Lotus needs little introduction, and this immaculate car was one of the last of the road cars made, in 1981
Stretching the point a bit, I suppose, was this, a distant relative, the racing Peugeot 206
On the Sunday, an ordinary Hillman Minx joined the display. Very nostalgic indeed for me, as my father had 4 of these cars: 2 saloons and then 2 Hunter Estates. He would never had such a bold colour as this Sea Green example, though!
The coupe version of this car was sold as the Rapier, and a cheaper version was the Alpine, and here is a rare survivor:
The Rapier had been offered since 1955, in coupe and convertible form, like this:
A much earlier Minx was this Series 2 model from the late 1930s.
The Super Minx was launched in 1961, and a short-lived Convertible version came soon after:
The “posh” version of this car was the Singer Vogue, and here is the estate car:
Based on the Imp was this, the Clan Crusader, made in the early 1970s, as a kit car
Another rare car now was this, the Talbot Horizon. This Series 2 car was one of the last made, in 1986, and had only covered 47,000 miles. Not exactly a classic, but a slice of all but vanished history, for sure
Elsewhere in the event, there was a separate, and sizeable gathering of Alpine and Tiger cars
This 3.5 litre car, from the 1930s was lurking in the paddock:
A very large central area was given over to Jaguar, with many cars here to remind attendees of a glorious past, and a foretaste of treats to come at the upcoming XK60 event, which will celebrate 60 years of the XK engine and the XK120.
The Mark 2:
The rather large Mark X
The first generation XJ6. This was the rare 2.8 litre model
The iconic “E” type:
The XJS Convertible – now maturing into a rather elegant design, in my opinion
On Sunday, the display included an XJ220:
This XJR9 was road registered!

Displayed in various areas around the event, a few were collected together in one location:
and an MGA with an MG TD in the background
Here is the MG TD
An MG Magnette – a sort of 3 series BMW of its day, I suppose.

A little known English sports car manufacturer from the late 1950s and early 1960s
Better known, for sure, is the Marcos. A big display of cars from the make’s 40 year history, including a couple of real rarities: The Mini Marcos:
The better-known 3-litre cars from the late 1960s:
Very rare indeed was this, the Mantis. Launched at the 1970 Motor Show, only 32 were ever made. I can’t remember when I last saw one
This TSO5000 was one of the last ditch efforts to relaunch the brand in the 21st Century

The “S” – a revival in TVR’s fortunes after the wedge-shaped Tasmin era:
Several gatherings of Cobras, of various provenances:
There was also an official AC Car Club area, just where it was last year, where we spotted the less than successful Ace:
There were several of the previous Ace model, too, along with a few Acecas
The “SeMantics” Club had a display which mustered 10 cars at one point, with an 11th in a separate area. We did send an immediate message to the Forum’s SM-lover, and he reacted in a suitably positive and approving way!
Elsewhere, there was this splendid “H” Van:
A lone Dino Coupe on the Saturday was joined by 4 other cars on Sunday. How I failed to take pictures of all 5 of them remains a mystery!
A gathering of Stratos cars:
Fulvia Coupe and one of the many MonteCarlos on show:
Beta Spider:
Another MonteCarlo
Fulvia Sedan
Fulvia Zagato, with Aurelia GT in the background
A lone car from this manufacturer, a Pantera
A comprehensive selection of cars here illustrated the history of this marque very well:
The latest GranTurismo was included:
Recent 3200 GTs and 4200GTs were part of the show, of course
The Khamsin
Quattroporte 2 – one of only 12 cars made:
Probably the second largest number of cars, after Porsche, were the Prancing Horses, with a splendid display of cars to see.
Not often that you see an Enzo:
And an F50:
And, there’s an F40:
Actually, make it a couple of F40s…….. Or was that three?
Later, there were 4 x F40s here, and a further one in a display tent. Five in one day!
There was a replica of the original TestaRossa, too
After all this excitement, it would be easy to walk away. But no, there were plenty of other rare Ferraris to see.
A 166 Touring
A 275 GTB
275 GTS
The very latest 599 GTB, still my favourite of the current range
The 612 Scaglietti
A 575 SuperAmerica
A 550 Barchetta – just look at the so-called hood!
Dino 246 – in a splendid array of colours!
365 GTC/4
330 GTC
360 Modena
550 and F355
328 GTS
Two separate display areas. One was for Giulia models, and the other seemed to be for all Alfa’s. A rare Giulietta Berlina from the late 1950s
The Montreal
The Giulia Coupe
The Giulia SZ:
Alfa 155
The SZ
The recently discontinued Spider, already heading for classic status, for sure. This is one of the late models
A nice collection of Renault Alpines to see:

Two separate displays here. On Saturday, the BMW Car Club had a very impressive of pre-war machines, mnay of which I did not immediately recognise! BMW 315
BMW 321 – sold as a Frazer Nash in the UK, as most BMWs were until the 1960s
No such challenge in identifying this one, a 328
This 2002 was parked up behind the hospitality suites
A separate area included a number of recent models, and several Alpina’s. Many of them looked like they were ready for the Gaydon event in a couple of weeks that was not quite to our rather puritanical tastes!
The very rare M3 GT

A select grouping of cars on the Saturday, with 2 vibrant yellow SLKs to dominate, but there were some classics on show, too:
This 280 CE Coupe 3.5 is particularly elegant:
On Sunday, a 300SL Roadster had arrived:
Later we found a 300SL Gullwing to match

A special area just for the Stag
The 2500, a much loved sports/luxury saloon of its day
TR7s and 8s were plentiful

A nice display in the central area.
A large gathering of Caterhams from the ages……….. lots of different variants, for sure, but it would take a real expert to work out the difference between most of them!
No such problem in identifying the C21 model, though
Lotus also had a large display area. The new Evora was there, with a car that was half clay model and half the finished item, but it was locked up in a unit which made photography impossible. There was a feature on Lotus Engineering, and we had a long chat to one of the employees there who works as an engineer trying to translate the ideas that the CATIA users have created into something which can be built. He told us that although many of Lotus’ projects are confidential, they had indeed done all the base engineering for the Vanquish platform. He also said that this show car was fully production ready, and should have gone into production 3 years ago. He did not say by whom, though.
Along with a Proton Gen2, Lotus Design had this, a sort of concept for a snowmobile
A display of some of the racing cars from Lotus’ illustrious past included this:
The first generation Elite
The Elan
Elan +2
Lotus Cortina – first generation
and second generation
The Europa:
The Elite
The Excel
A whole load of Esprits, of course
Front wheel drive Elan
The much vilified current Lotus Europa
Several of the latest Elise and Exige models were on display, too
The 340R
A Club display had some rather wonderful cars in it:
As one of the races on Sunday was just for Astons, it was reasonable to expect a good turnout of the classics from both the 30s and the 50s, and sure enough, an entire area of the paddock was held as a display section. The DB2s:
There were a large number of the Ulster model lined up to compete, too

Humber from the 1930s
First generation Ford Zephyr
Second generation Ford Consul
In the background, a VW 1600TL, Type3
Three wheeled Morgan:
Three wheeled Morgan van:
Pontiac Firebird TransAm
Austin A50 Cambridge
Austin Westminster A110:
Vanden Plas Princess R – a Rolls-Royce engined version of the Westminster/ Wolseley 6/110
Wolseley 4/44
Austin Maxi 2 – rather a tatty example when viewed close up!
A couple of the Frazer Nash cars from the 1950s:
A Jensen 541:
Jowett Jupiter:
Vauxhall-Lotus Carlton
Mazda MX5s were there in number
Rolls Royce
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Coupe (prior to the car being called a Corniche)
Cadillac Eldorado Convertible – just massive!
Bristol 401:
Gordon Keeble – another rarity
A very original looking Sierra XR4i
Ford GT40 – this is Chris Notley’s car, recreated over a period of many years from spare parts that were found. I heard it before I saw it as he drove in on Saturday. Makes my S6 sound very quiet!
This looked rather less formal than the billing in the program, but there was an area dedicated to historic rally cars, many of which seemed very familiar from trips to the Race Retro event. It was good to see them in a warmer setting!

Some historic BMC Group cars were also to be seen, along with a couple of period transporters:
A small area in the paddock, in memory of a great motor sports man, showing some of the many cars in which he competed

Unrestricted access is one of the great features of an event like this, allowing for close up inspections of the cars before and after their track appearances.
One of my absolute favourites, the Alfa 8C 2300
Jaguar “D” type
BMW “Neue Klasse”, ready for action in the historic saloon car race
Mercury Monterey – a behemoth of a car!
Mercury Comet Cyclone – clearly a real handful on the track
Group C Cars
Alfa P3
I confess that I did not take many pictures of the cars while they were racing. Piers’ brother, Alex, was with us on the Saturday, and he filled an entire memory card with his efforts. He took a lot of pictures of cars entering the pit lane at the end of their race, as we happened to sipping pimms, and enjoying the hospitality of Chris and Sandra Notley (owners of the yellow Ford GT40 that some of you have seen), at the time, in their suite, so were perectly placed to do so. I did capture some of the cars, generally on their warm up laps, and here they are:
A select group of people had been able to fly in their own historic planes, and we did see a few of these make a departure on the Sunday evening. We were treated to a number of aerial displays, from 2 YAK fighters, the Hawker Hunter plane from the 1950s, and on Saturday evening there was a Hot Air Balloon ascent in almost perfect conditions.

All in all, then, a truly excellent weekend. The sunburn on the back of my legs has mostly faded, but the nose has started to peel! Infinitely preferrable to Prescott weather, all the same!
2010-01-11 07:43:28

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