Boxing Day spectacular in Romsey town centre

| 30 Dec 2017

About a thousand vehicles converged on Romsey for its now-traditional Boxing Day Pre 1976 Meet. The busy gathering, set up by Steve Biddlecombe in 2002, drew about 50 mainly American motors to that first event, but now fills three car parks plus loads of other spaces all around the town centre. Transatlantic machinery (pre 1986) still features strongly, including Richard Biggs’ 1964 Ford Falcon Futura 289 (in centre), which he imported in 2009, alongside Dave Hillary’s stunning bright blue ’69 Mustang 351.

British Blue Oval models were out in force, too, including the fabulous Flame Orange metallic 1974 Capri II 1600GT of Romsey regular Andrew Ward. “I’ve had it 13 years,” he said, “but it has been in my family from new and has done just 15,000 miles. I’ve been coming here since 2003, either in this or the Morris Minors that I grew up around. The Ford was built in February ’74 and bought in April, so we think it must be one of the earliest Capri IIs left.”

Nearby was another low-mileage unrestored Ford built the same year, this gleaming Sebring Red Mk1 Escort Mexico. It was bought new three months after the Capri, from Adlards Rallye Sport Centre, in Clapham Common, London, which had just been set up as an RS dealership.

Jeff Townsend from near Beaulieu tracked down his gorgeous 1951 V8-Pilot at auction two years ago. “I’d had my eye on a few different ones and then this came up for sale in King’s Lynn,” he explained. “It had been completely restored in 1995, and came with a full photographic record of the rebuild. We took it to the New Forest Show this year, as part of a display to mark the centenary of Fordson tractors.”

Morris Minors were well represented, such as the lovely 1958 pick-up that Maurice and Simon Peacock have owned since 2013. It was returned to the original Azure Blue shortly after that and now has a 1098cc engine instead of the 948cc unit, plus disc front brakes.

Pick of the commercial vehicles, though, was the glorious 1929 Foden C-type timber tractor that has been owned by D&J Hirst & Sons for 30 years. “It had a lot of refurbishment a couple of years after we got it – including a lot of work to the boiler – and has had a fair amount over the past 12 months,” recalled Nick Hirst. “Funnily enough, we know of seven or eight around here, three of which were built in 1929.”

Classic 4x4s at Romsey included Jeeps, plus Series Landies and even an Austin Gypsy – the 1965 ex-Auxilary Fire Service example that Mike Street acquired in ’09. “It was out up for auction in 1997 by the Home Office,” he said, “with 320 miles on the clock and still had only 11,000 showing when I purchased it in 2009. It is a rolling restoration that will never be concours, but will hopefully survive for many years to come and tell its story.” Alongside was the ’61 Land-Rover Series II that Jon Bradley bought when he was 19 in the early ’90s: “It’s been various colours over the years – including military green – but will be going back to a more classic shade in 2018, and still has the original engine and gearbox.”

Highlights among the vintage rarities included this immaculate 1923 Durant Star roadster, made by the New York-based firm
Late-model Jaguar Mk2 – a former bank manager’s car perhaps – looked spot-on outside Barclays in the market square

Lifelong American car fan Steve Biddlecombe – who runs Mr B’s Barber Shop – was delighted with the turnout. “It was a slow start because of the bad weather the night before,” he said, “but then there was a rush.” He brought the gleaming 1958 Buick Limited that he bought 20 years ago: “It had only done about 70,000 miles and is now just over 96,000.” At the time of writing, the Romsey Meet had raised a fantastic £4467.88 for Prostate Cancer UK, with a month still to run: you can donate via Steve’s JustGiving page here

Here are some more of our favourites from around Romsey, starting with the fabulous two-tone Ford Zodiac ED Abbott estate of Simon Coakley – one of the tireless team of marshals who help with the event… which you can find out more about here