2009 marks the 75th anniversary of the VSCC, the Vintage Sports Car Club, and to mark the occasion a whole series of special events have been planned throughout the year. The culmination of these activities was the Prescott meet which took place on the historic Gloucestershire hillside on the first weekend of August. In anticipation of a huge turnout, the organisers decreed that the large Orchard car park would be given over solely to pre-war cars, and the field was filled with just this type of car. This meant that the paying public had to park either high up on the slopes, or in an adjacent field that had been somewhat churned up by the huge rain fall the day before the Forum visit. We were blessed with a dry day, and were able to revel in a feast of automotive history. There were 16 classes of car, all of them pre-war, competing for honours ascending the short course up the hill, each car having a timed run in the morning and afternoon.
PRE-WAR and immediately POST-WAR CARS
With an entire large field full of interesting cars, and the contents of the various paddocks of competitors (numbering around 300 further cars), photographing everything was clearly mission impossible. What follows is just a representative sample of some of the wonderful vehicles that were on show.
My love of the 1930s Alfa is well documented on this site, and today I had a real treat, with numerous examples of the very lovely 6C 1750 at the event. None of them appeared to be competing, but all were available for me (and others) to enjoy. Splendid!
There was a lone saloon from the period – probably a 6C1500, though I am less sure about this
This one certainly is a 6C1500
There were a large quantity of Alvis cars at the event – many of which are not particularly well known vehicle types these days. A lot of them were the 12/50 model, but without the distinctive “duck’s back” styling even these proved hard to identify!
This is a late 1930s SB 12/70 saloon, precursor to the better known TC and TD-TF ranges
These French cycle-cars are always popular at events like this, and there were several examples of the marque in attendance.
The Austin Seven remains a popular vintage car, as it is relatively cheap, simple to fix and there are plenty of survivors. Several attended the event.
The Seven also lent itself to being converted into a cost effective sports car and racer and numerous examples of this genre were to be found both on display and competing in the event.
Some larger vehicles were also in attendance.
A good mix of both the sports cars, 3.5 and 4.5 litre monsters (“the fastest lorries in the world”, as Ettore Bugatti called them)…..
…… and saloon/limousine cars.
This Bentley Napier was just unbelievable. On his second run, just seconds after I took this picture he engulfed the entire crowd in the most incredible amount of smoke. Needless to say there were two very long and very black lines on the track as a consequence!
A couple of the historic cars that I had seen at Silverstone the previous weekend were here. These are 319 models.
There was also a 327 saloon.
A 401 model
Prescott is home of the Bugatti Owners Club, and also houses an excellent museum, operated by the Bugatti Trust. A number of these fantastic machines are therefore homed at the location, and several of them were parked up behind the museum.
These British sports cars are always popular, and prove a spectacular sight as they tear up the hill. Three of them were participating, but only this one caught my camera.
A single Fiat was a the event. I saw this car both before and after its ascent of the hill. Compared to most of the other competitors, this one would win prizes for relative silence of its engine.
Known for producing their own sports cars well into the 1930s, several of them were here
The very last car to climb the famous hill was this one.
Another marque that produced cycle-car style vehicles.
This one had a 5.1 litre engine in it, and you can imagine just what a handful it proved to be going up the hill. Great fun to watch, though!
Although better known for the very luxurious cars that this Spanish marque produced in the 1920s and 30s, before that, they also made the Alfonso, an out and out sports car named after the then King of Spain.
An English marque that was known for producing moderately priced sports cars in the 1930s and which lasted for a few years only after the war.
This is one of the larger models from the 1930s.
This Lambda Limousine is rather different from the more commonly seen open top tourers. What an elegant alternative to the more traditional British cars of the era.
There was a more conventional saloon car parked up in the Orchard, as well.
The Aprilia was a very advanced car indeed for the time – yet another instance of the impeccable engineering that went into this one proud marque.
A single Maserati was competing, this 1935 6CM. I stood right by this car as it was being prepared to shoot up the hill, and I can tell you that quiet, it is not. But what a glorious sound! The engine is a work of art, too!
A wide variety of these affordable sports cars from the 1930s.
The TC model, popular especially in America for all the GIs when they returned home
This Y Series car was initially launched in the late 1930s and then revived post war. Think of it as the 1 Series of its day: an affordable sports saloon!
Although the Morgan Centenary event was still running, at the nearby Cheltenham Racecourse, several cars had “escaped” to come to Prescott, including this JAP-engined early car.
The Minor was Morris’ response to the hugely successful Austin Seven
Numerically, I would guess that there were more Rileys than any other type of car.
Until the late 1920s, Riley produced some some worthy vehicles, such as these.
The Monaco was a relatively small saloon with very definite sporting characteristics which set the agenda for the following years.
Many Riley specials were built in the 1930s, based on the chassis of the saloon cars such as the Nine, and this is one, with a well known Forum vehicle in the background!
Riley also made some out and out sports cars. The MPH was an expensive car and sold in limited numbers, but the Imp was cheaper and commercially far more successful.
The Kestrel was a popular sports saloon of the 1930s – the 3 series of its day. There were at least a dozen of them at the event.
Immediately post war, Riley launched the RM Series. Available with 1.5 and 2.5 litre engines, these cars were well received for their sporting qualities. A convertible was added to the range, and there were examples of all models to be found throughout the Orchard.
A very distinctive car, this, a 20/25 model in unique finish, and for sale (by auction) if anyone is feeling affluent.
Another 20/25, more traditionally finished.
This car is of particular significance to the Forum, as it is the very car used at the wedding of a certain Mr and Mrs Roadrunner.
A rare sporting version of the Rover 12.
I guessed this one correctly: the characteristic shape of the boiler at the front is a give away!. This is a steam powered car, a fact that was every evident when we saw it depart. We were impressed at how quickly the owner had managed to get the pressure needed to be able to depart, though. Despite its environmental credentials, not perhaps the future of motoring technology.
When this marque is mentioned, many people think of the Anglo-French creations that started life as Chryslers and ended up being replaced by Peugeots. But there’s a proud history to this marque, and there was a special display of cars, all badged “Talbot – London”, with a range of overt sports cars and some rather stylish sports saloons.
Talbot was also successful in motor sport and the 1920s cars in a sort of Apple Green are very distinctive. One of them was at the event.
Talbot continued to race throughout the 1930s, with cars such as these.
Great excitement ensued when we spotted this, a 1938 T38 car. That made the second of these highly prized cars that I have seen in a week. V8, air-cooled, rear engined. What a car!
The 1930s Dolomite – complete with very distinctive grille
This is the Vitesse from the 1930s
Hard to believe now, but this marque once competed with the Bentley. The car that did so was the 30/98 from the 1920s, and a whole row of these were lined up ready to battle with each other on the Hill.
A few unidentified cars:
The merits of the post war Alvis are starting to be appreciated, and prices have risen accordingly. Convertibles are now being sold for big sums of money (£60k +), and it is not hard to see why. Here are TD and TE models.
A very nice E30 model M3. A genuine car, by all accounts, unlike the numerous fakes that now litter eBay and Autotrader
This 456, like many cars parked high on the hill found it something of a struggle to get away from the event. There did not seem to be a shortage of volunteers to push, though!
The XK series seem so much at home at Prescott. This is one of the XK150s that was there..
The “E” Type
A rare Jupiter sports car. This car, blessed with excellent handling thanks to a low centre of gravity from its flat four engine was based on the Jowett family saloon. Despite having considerable merit, it sold only in small volume, and is now a rare sighting indeed.
The lovely Fulvia Coupe. Of the two of these early cars that were at the event, this was one was in rather better condition than the other one.
A splendid event. Several gaps in my knowledge of cars from this era were filled in by the hugely informed Mr Roadrunner, and I thank him and Piers and Andy and Gareth for the pleasure of their company. Vintage cars may not be to everyone’s taste, but for those for whom they are, this is a fabulous event and well worth marking in your 2010 diary now.