Second Tuesday of the month is Classics night at the iconic Ace Cafe, and that means that you can be pretty sure of an eclectic mix of cars, with more than a few surprises as well as plenty of regulars. The weather can have an effect, though, and as I headed out of central London towards my hotel, I was in two minds whether to make a small diversion via Ace Cafe or not. What had started out as a sunny evening had clearly turned to rain whilst I was running around a squash court, but although it was dry again as I got in the car, I could see a very menacing and black looking sky as I drove west. Something inside my head told me that it would only be a few minutes extra travel time at least to go and see, and although I arrived at Ace with the wipers still in action, and a dramatic full arc of a rainbow very evident to the east, it was clear that lots of people had decided to ignore the rain. Not only was the forecourt packed, but so were the streets around the Cafe, and I had to park further away than I have ever done before, and walk up to see what was interesting all the crowds. It was 8pm by this stage, and a few cars did pull away just as I turned up, but there was lots of interest, as you can see in this report:
One of the older cars in attendance was this, which I believe is an Austin 10.
This was definitely the night for Austin Healeys with several examples present, and four more of which departed just as I arrived. Most were Sprites, but there was one of the “Big Healey” 3000s present as well.
The Continental R was the first design for many decades which was unique to Bentley, with no Rolls-Royce equivalent.
Although the 3 series is a regular in the Top 10 Best Sellers these days, when this E21 model 323i was sold, it was a much more exclusive (and expensive) car, so it’s no surprise that you do not see models like this very often.
One of the rarer cars of the evening was this C21, a short lived attempt to offer a less open car than the Seven based models for which the firm is known.
Every month brings our a rarity or two, and this time they both had Citroen badges on them, with a pair of Visa models. One of the limited edition 10E Leader cars was joined by the very rare Cabrio. Just seeing this duo made the trip worthwhile for me!
There were three examples of the evergreen 2CV present as well, including a Dolly and one in black.
I was quite surprised to find no fewer than three examples of the C6 parked up on the street as well. They were all in dark colours and with fading light, photography was never going to work. A classic in the making, for sure.
There were quite a number of classic Fords present, with plenty of variety ranging from the familiar to the less commonly seen models. One of the rarer was this, a car most would think of as an Anglia Van, but which Ford actually badged “Thames” in accordance with the naming they used for all their light commercials until the advent of the Transit name in 1965. Unbelievably basic by modern standards, most of these would have been worked to death and scrapped, so there are few survivors.
Parked near to it was a Corsair. Ford’s only moderately successful upper medium-sized saloon celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and thanks to an active Owners Club, you do see examples of the car quite frequently.
Parked up across the street was a very nice 1971 Ford Mustang. By this time, the purity of lines of the original Pony Car had been somewhat diluted by the annual facelift, but compared with what was to come not long after, this is still a good looking car.
Worth far more, and looking quite innocuous was this Escort TwinCam. This was the first of the “hot” Escorts, and all the extra cost was spend under the body rather than by advertising just how potent the car was from the exterior. It was expensive to build, and hence to buy, though, and so Ford soon replaced it with some more affordable models, such as the Mexico and the iconic RS1600 and RS2000 cars.
This Mark 3 Capri bore the legend 3.1S on the rear boot. Ford did not offer such a version, so I have to assume that the owner has either bored out the original 3 litre or transplanted the 3.1 litre engine that was fitted to a small number of Mark 1 models.
This facelifted Mark 1 Fiesta Popular Plus was not quite how it left the factory, either, with some rather larger and wider wheels, which frankly, did not look good, hence the careful angle of the photo to try to hide them as best I could. It was otherwise a pretty original looking car, and one you rarely see these days.
Oldest machine at the event this month was this a Model T. It stayed later than I did, so I hope he did not have to travel far on the rather weak headlights that are on the car!
This is a relatively example of the SuperSnipe, a luxury version of Humber’s large saloon that ran from the mid 1950s to mid 1960s.
The owner of this SS100 had clearly managed to get the tonneau cover in place before the downpour, which was probably just as well. At least the rain did not deter him (or her?) from coming. Fabulous.
This Mark IX was the very imposing luxury saloon that Jaguar sold in the mid to late 1950s. By the time that the original Mark VII got to this iteration, it did at least feature power steering and disc brakes. Without either, I expect it was quite a challenge to drive, and more importantly, to stop.
The 420 was a model which combined the styling cues from the gargantuan Mark X with the smaller S Type. In a way it was a sort of interim car for the mid 1960s until the all new XJ6 was ready, though a surprising number of them were sold.
Editor of Classic Cars magazine’s Phil Bell’s E Type was here once again. As far as I could tell, once again, he was the only representative of the magazine present.
I caught this nice example of the Jensen-Healey just as the owner got in and started up, ready to leave.
Parked up with the other small sports cars was this nice first generation “NA” MX5.
There were a couple of nice Mercedes present, one worth not far short of ten times the value of the other. The more affordable of the pair is this W123 model 280CE, an elegant tourer that looks good even now, some 40 years after the design was first released. Nice though it is, though, it cannot really compete in the desirability stakes with the earlier “Pagoda” W113 250SL, which is a supremely lovely motor car.
Joining the Austin-Healeys were a whole load of MGs. There was quite a mix from Midget and MGB to the more recent MGF and TF models.
Not an original MG TF, but the mid 1980s recreation made by Naylor cars, this version had an O Series 1700cc engine and some modern features to make it easier to live with than the original 1950s car. Sadly, the venture was short lived and less than 100 cars were produced.
This lovely 911 was actually painted in a really bright blue colour, but that it is not obvious in the fading light of my photo.
I’ve seen this amazingly restored R12 TL at the event before, but it is always good to see cars like this again, as the model is now very rare.
There were a couple of Rolls-Royce models on the forecourt: a Mark 1 Silver Shadow and a Series 3 version of the car it replaced, a Silver Cloud.
The Vogue was the up-market version of the Hillman Super Minx, with external styling differences and a higher quality of interior trim to distinguish it.
MR2s have acquired the “classic in waiting” status, much to no-one’s real surprise, as these were well regarded when new, and still appeal today. This is a second generation car.
This was a nice example of the Mark 2 Triumph 2000.
There was also a TR2 present.
The Vixen shows a clear resemblance to the earlier Grantura which was TVR’s first real road car offering. It was nice to see this rather some of the (admittedly very nice) more recent TVRs that are far more often encountered at events like this.
This FB model VX4/90 was parked up on the street. There appear to be far fewer of the second generation car to bear the Victor name left than the very brash first generation FA model, so this was a rare sighting. The VX4/90 was the sporting model in the range, aimed at the MG Magnette and Sunbeam Rapier. “4” denoted the number of cylinders, and 90 the putative top speed.
There was a second VX4/90 present. This was one of the FD cars, made in the late 1960s. By this time the Victor had grown to be a clear class larger than Ford’s Cortina. I always rather liked the “coke bottle” styling of this generation of the Victor range, and this appeared to be a nicely preserved example of the model.
No question, then, that it was worth the small detour en route to my hotel to come and see such an array of classic and interesting cars. Let’s hope that the September meeting is blessed with bright sunshine all evening.