Second Tuesday of the month is Classics Night at Ace Cafe. It is the occasion when you are likely to encounter the most varied collection of vehicles among all the different themed evenings hosted by this famous venue, and as such is always worth a visit. I’ve not managed to include it in my schedule as often as I would like, but with a morning meeting in Crawley and an afternoon allocated simply to emails, it seemed that I could include the September 2013 gathering in my schedule en route home. Both the weather forecast and indeed the actual weather do play a significant part in influencing who comes and in what, but at least the latter appeared to be a non-issue, with a grey but dry evening predicted. It did not turn out that way, and indeed the rain set in around 7pm, so the event ended up being less busy than in some months. What was also different was that far more of the cars were more recent, what the Germans would call “Young Timers” than is typically the case. Even so, there was plenty to inspect and enjoy before the rains came and the dusk arrived. Here are the highlights:
One of the nicest cars of the evening was this Swiss plated 1300 GT Junior. The driver and passenger emerged from the Cafe even before the forecourt was full, got in the car and drove off, so I guess they were more interested in visiting the location than joining in the rest of the event.
Although the red wheels did not look entirely convincing, this TD21 was in all other respects a rather nice automobile.
When this car arrived, my first thought was that it was a Big Seven, but I believe it is actually a Ten, the larger stablemate Austin added to the range in the mid 1930s. This car has had the same owner for over 40 years, and he has clearly looked after it well.
This Metro was one of a plethora of limited edition models which BL Group offered in the 1980s, this one from late 1983 was called Gala. 2500 were made, but HowManyLeft suggests that this could be the only one left on our roads.
This is one of a handful of Sprites that were present. (The rest clearly eluded the camera!).
Although there are separate BMW evenings, for some reason this event seemed dominated by BMW models, most of them fairly recent. There were a lot of E30 cars, though as several were in dark hues and they only arrived as the light had faded, not all are depicted here.
There were also a couple of E28 5 Series cars, one of them whose paintwork needed lots of TLC, and the other of which was the rather ill-fated economy special 525e model.
A couple of Citroens had clearly arrived early in the proceedings: a 2CV and far more unusually, a CX22TRS.
This car parked up on the street initially, and when all I could see were the headlights, I incorrectly thought it was a Renault R11. Indeed I heard others say the same thing, so was quite surprised when it pulled onto the forecourt and I discovered its true identity. Again, this was another car which did not stay long.
A variety of classic Fords were on show, ranging from a Mark 2 Cortina GT and Mark IV Zodiac from the 1960s, to a Mark 2 Escort 1.3, a Granada Ghia Coupe and Mark IV Cortina from the 1970s, as well as lovely – and beautifully restored and presented – Mustang.
A couple of historic Jaguars, the Mark 2 and the later XJ6 in Series 1 guise.
Still somewhat underrated, the Jensen Healey is an elegant British sports cars from the early 1970s.
Another car from the 1970s, albeit the tail end and into the 80s, that is appreciated is the W123 Mercedes, seen here in 280CE Coupe guise.
A duo of Midgets and an early MGB all arrived roof down, but when the rain advanced beyond the odd spot, the owners rushed out and erected their hoods.
The ubiquitous Minor Traveller.
A nicely preserved Rialto estate.
Largest and most imposing vehicle of the evening was this first generation Silver Cloud.
This SD1 was not quite original, with its four exhaust pipes and some extraneous brightwork around the headlights, but otherwise was not in bad condition and was nice to see.
Strange to think that 900s like this are “classic”, but work out that many of them are over 30 years old and you realise that they probably do qualify, at least for what the Germans would call “YoungTimer” status.
An example of the Alpine, Sunbeam’s answer to the more popular MG sports cars of the time.
A nice example of the TR4.
A couple of sporting Vauxhalls from the 1980s, a first generation Astra GTE and the smaller Nova in SR trim. Both were largely original looking cars, which is not something that can be said for many fast Vauxhalls of the era.
I had to take the photos of this P1800S from carefully considered angles to try to hide the truly revolting red wheel trims which the owner had inflicted on this car. The rest of it was really rather nice.
With the need to get home, and repack ready for an early start the following morning, I left at around 7:30pm, by which time the light had more or less completely failed, and the rain had not ceased. Cars were still arriving, with an XJS and a 1970s Beetle Cabrio hoping to find space on the forecourt just as I got in my car. Not perhaps the most interesting collection of cars, and certainly not the quantity that often attend this Classic evening, but still well worth the few mile diversion en route home.