Flat caps were swapped for flatheads at Prescott Speed Hill Climb last weekend when the Bugatti Owners’ Club dedicated its annual Autumn Classic on to a celebration of US motoring and motor sport, hosting its inaugural American Automobile Festival.Caddys, Chevys, rods, stocks and street-racers gathered in the unseasonal autumn sunshine to watch a varied programme on the hill, accompanied by a live ’50s rock 'n’ roll soundtrack drifting over from the paddock.Motorcycles were included, with the period Wall of Death a major crowd-pleaser thanks to the surrounding collection of ‘bikes by Indian – the weapon of choice for Death riders – and Harley-Davidson.
On the hill Indianapolis was celebrated with demonstration runs from the ex-Fittipaldi/Tracey Penske PC-19 009. There was also a class for flatheads, which dished up an eclectic mix of Ford Model A and T hot rods, Allards, and Keith Thomas’ diminutive Ford sidevalve-engined Buckler flying the flag for the UK.
Mark Brett’s Ballamy-Ford and ‘Biggles’ Bennett’s V8 Batten Special slugged it out for Fastest Time of the Day. In the end it went to Bennett, who established a new class record. Street-rod racer Ian Hook caused a stir by bringing his 1934 Model A Ford Coupe replica to the two-day event. The car holds the European street-rod records for the quickest quarter-mile, at a searing 7.8secs, and for top speed, at a Miura-baiting 174mph.Hook made a brave demonstration run in the lunchtime cavalcade, finding Prescott’s narrow twists and turns too much of a challenge to safely show off the rod’s potential.Making its first visit to Prescott was Ol’ Yeller II, the famous American racing special, built and raced in period by Max Balchowsky.
In the paddock, a rare Skirrow Midget racer drew much attention. Developed by Brit Ron Skirrow in 1936, the single-seater offered such devastating performance from its combination of 998cc JAP engine and four-wheel-drive transmission that it was banned across the pond.
More photographs follow. Double click on the lead image above to launch a slide show.
Photos: Steve Walsh & Ross Sharp.
Late 1950s Caddy in the paddock added to the theme
Clark Devey on the hill in his Ford coupé
Chevy leads lunchtime cavalcade up the hill
Inside the Wall of Death