Classics and Retro Action Day at Castle Combe – June 2013

There has been action on the track at Wiltshire’s Castle Combe circuit since 1950, and these days there is a very varied and packed program of events and activities that take place throughout the year. The spectator viewing is universally good all around the circuit, and even the most popular events never feel crowded. What’s more the circuit is just 20 miles from my home, so it is to my eternal chagrin that I seem to make no more than a couple of visits there in any given year. In 2012 I sampled the “Classics and Sports Cars” Action day, and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, when planning the 2013 program of what I was going to do, the 2013 version, slightly rebranded to “Classics and Retro” did not make my list, as it appeared to clash with other events that I also wished to attend. And that would have been that, had I not spotted an item in the local paper mentioning it, and quoting the finalised date, of Saturday 29th June. Thanks to lots of event date changes after Bernie moved the British Grand Prix, I realised that in fact there was nothing in my diary, so vowed to attend.  The concept was as in 2012: several hundred classics on show, thanks to a number of Car Clubs, and the opportunity for those who wanted to brave the circuit to do so in a controlled manner where they compete more against themselves than in any form of race. With several anniversaries to celebrate, and the promise of a massive lunchtime parade, this looked like perfect entertainment for me, on my door step. To make matters better, the weather forecast suggested that the event was likely not just to be dry, but to be bathed in some eagerly awaited summer sunshine. I arrived soon after the gates opened, and spent most of the day admiring the cars in the numerous Car Club displays, and on a couple of tours around the car parks, as well as watching all manner of drivers take to the circuit either to drive at speed, or at lunchtime to participate in a huge parade that almost became bumper to bumper around the entire lap of the circuit. Here are the highlights:


Sole example of the Abarth at the event was this 500 that I found in one of the car parks.

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The only  “Cobra” on display was this.

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With a huge Alfa event scheduled to take place at Beaulieu the following day, it was perhaps a bit optimistic to expect too many Alfa, but there were a number of Owners Club cars on show, ranging from a lovely Giulietta Spider, through a 115 series Giulia 2000 GTV to a 916 series GTV and an SZ.

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Not part of the Alfa Owners club display. this was my favourite Alfa of the day, a lovely AlfaSud Ti. This particular car is one I don’t recall having seen before, but I have been told that there are quite a few of these cars slowly being restored, so it is always possible that this one has only recently returned to the road.

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Lone Aston present was this fabulous DB6

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There were three examples of the ur-Quattro at the event. The pearlescent white one sported “For Sale” signs in the windows. At £15,000 for a car that looked to be in decent condition, this is sure to tempt someone.

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This 1940s Eight is a regular at Castle Combe. its owner it would seem being a member of a Calne based Car Club.

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From the 1950s were a couple of Westminster models, the A90 and the later A95.

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There were also a duo of the later Farina-styled Cambridge, again with the initial A55 and the later facelifted A60 models on display.

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Final Austin was an A35 van.

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A good mix of Sprites and “Big Healeys”.

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A Mark VI.

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This Bandit made a very noisy entrance during the early afternoon. The noise from its engine suggests that even if you could get comfortable in such a small car, your ears would not tolerate it for too long at a time.

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Only a few BMWs present, which is probably quite surprising given the popularity of this marque among enthusiasts, with a pair of 2002 and an E30 325i Sport.

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Several different Bristol models, some more familiar than others. Needing no introduction were the pair of 401 models, and these were joined by a rare 404 Coupe and a 405 Drophead as well as a 411.

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This rather splendid looking machine is a one-off Bristol special, created relatively recently with a bespoke body that looks like a cross between a Maserati 200S and a Jaguar C Type.

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This was a further special, a 1958 Lister-Bristol.

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A rather nice 1969 Skylark model

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As was the case at the 2012 event, the Crossfire Owners Club had a big turnout, with plenty of this short lived Mercedes SLK-based Coupe and Convertible on display.

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A small collection of cars presented by the Fiat Owners Club included a very rare 127 (albeit not quite in original condition), a couple of first generation Pandas, a Uno Selecta, a Tipo Sedicivalvole and a 124 Spider.

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Good showing from the Mark 1 Capri Owners Club, with a range of cars from some of the entry level L and XL cars all the way to the limited production RS3100 models.

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There were plenty of sporting Fords from the past 30 years, as you might expect at an event like this.

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There was also a first generation Mustang.

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The little Libra sports car, a kit car based on Fiesta components.

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Strong showing from the Avenger owners, with 4 Tigers joined by a number of other models.

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The Imp owners had a number of cars on show, but most of them were actually Sunbeam Stilettos and so are presented here under the correct marque heading. This one was a Hillman.

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As was the case last year, there were some early diminutive Honda here, with a Z joined by the S800 Coupe and Convertible

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There were a nice collection of E Types on show.

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The XK8 is still an elegant looking design, even if it will not be long before it marks its 20th anniversary. These cars have become almost instant classics, and deservedly so.

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Other Jaguar included an XK140 and a series 1 XJ6.

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A splendid M45 Tourer.

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This late model Y10 was in the car park when I went back to my car to get water and food at lunchtime. It was gone not a lot later.

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A big display of Seven models, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Owners Club. Most of the cars on show were Caterham rather than the original Lotus.

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There were not many other Lotus models at the event, though I did enjoy both the Elans, the Esprit  and the bright yellow Evora was a late arrival.

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The Marcos Owners Club had a particularly comprehensive array of cars on show. Most of them were from the 1990s rebirth era, but there were a few earlier models as well.

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The local MX5 Owners club had quite a number of cars at the event, almost none of which were what you might call “original”.

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A small number of Mercedes included mainly some recent cars, but there were some nice SL models as well.

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There were a lot of MGF and TF cars on show.

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There was a large area allocated for the ZT/260 Owners, but only four cars were actually occupying it.

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Not surprisingly there were plenty of MGBs and the more recent MGR V8.

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This is a pre-war model, the precise type of which I am not sure.

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There were several classic Minis, some more original than others.

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Rally Day is the Castle Combe when you can expect to see literally hundreds of Mitsubishis, but as a taster of that event, there was one Evo IV model at this event.

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There were a couple of Morris Minors, both saloons.

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An interesting array of Manta and Ascona cars, with one first generation Manta joined by several of the longer-in-production second generation car.

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There was also a rather nice Monza GS/E.

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Club Peugeot had a small display area, where the dominant model was the much loved 205 GTi, three red examples of which were on display.  There was also a nice 306 GTi

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This was yet another event which marked the 50th anniversary of the 911 with a large display of all generations of the model, and then a special parade of almost all of them at lunchtime.

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There were plenty of other Porsche models on show, too.

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A separate display was for 356-type cars. Few of these were original, most were recreations, though all of them seemed to be quite well done.

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A quartet of Scimitar models showed the evolution of this popular sports hatch, from the early SE5 cars through to the SE6 and one of the last Middlebridge models that was made after the original Reliant company had ceased trading.

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A nice P6 model 2000 TC.

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There were a number of modified SAAB competing out on the track, and there were a few left behind in the static display.

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The Ten, a slightly less spartan version of the small car offered in the 1950s, antecedent to the Triumph Herald.

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There were a number of Imp based Stiletto models on show.

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A very nicely presented Rapier Series IV.

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A variety of Triumph cars on show, ranging from Vitesse through several Stags to a rare survivor from the last ever Triumph model, the Acclaim.

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This Herald is a recreation of one of the fleet of 6 such cars that were acquired by Monmouthshire Constabulary for local police work. Despite the fact that they were only used for short journeys, the cars amassed a vast mileage within a matter of months, and were then withdrawn from service, not to be seen again, though the concept of the “Panda Car” became popular all over the country.

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TVR were also well represented, as you might expect, with the earliest car on show being a Vixen from 1970, and the majority being from the 1990s and 2000s.

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Arriving in mid afternoon was this rather nice FD series Victor.

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The CD version of the first front wheel drive Cavalier was the sort of upgrade that many company cars aspired to in the early 1980s. They are a rare sighting now.

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At first I walked straight past this new Beetle, and then I turned on my heels and returned, as I realised it was one of the rare RSi cars. Ferociously expensive when new, only a small number were made.

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A 131 “Amazon”.

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Parked up with the Cambridges and Westminsters was this early Farina-styled 15/60.

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This Hornet was parked up alongside the track.

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A series of 6 vintage buses, brought along by the Bristol Vintage Bus Club were attracting a lot of interest as static exhibits. A couple of them made very sedate laps around the track during the day, taking 4 minutes and 30 seconds to do a lap, which is about 3 minutes more than most of the cars. A lap in one of these at 40 – 50 mph was probably more alarming than in a race car at more than double that speed! I did think of trying to get a ride, but such was the demand that when I got to the bus, it was full!

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This was a very enjoyable event. The good weather certainly helped, but even without the benefit of the sun (and I was not entirely convinced it was pure benefit when I realised what it had done to the back of my neck!), the variety of cars on show, the friendly ambience and the constant change of what was on the track made this a lot of fun. I will be monitoring the 2014 date more closely when doing my event planning.

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