A record 1500 cars – up more than 600 on last year – converged on Bicester Heritage from across the UK and continental Europe for its biggest-ever Sunday Scramble on 24 April. More than 3500 people took the opportunity to look around the specialists at the former RAF bomber base while giving their classics a run out on the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Club’s Drive It Day.
Bicester’s central location drew visitors from the north of the UK – such as the TVR Car Club’s South Yorkshire Region – while the 120-strong Porsche Club GB turnout included members from Spain and France.
More than 30 clubs attended, including the Chiltern Vehicle Preservation Group and the Basingstoke Classic Car Club, plus lots of one-make displays such as the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club.
A spectacular range of machinery spanned pre-war rarities built in penny numbers to immaculate late-model sports cars. FBHVC chairman David Whale brought his “new toy”, a delightful 1938 Rosengart Sutosix SuperSept – the only one known to survive from just six made by the French company.
“It’s done only 8812km,” he explained, “having spent much of its life in collections. It has a 1097cc straight-six – in effect, one and a half Austin Sevens – and still has the factory silk blind on the back window.” As his wife Barbara put it: “The original registration document was in the history file so we had a genuine piece of paper that gave us a shortcut to getting it registered.”
Nearby was the immaculate 1982 Volkswagen Golf GTI 1.6 that David Hirons bought 10 years ago. “It was a track-day car when I got it, with a later 16-valve engine,” he recalled, “but I rebuilt it from a bare shell over eight years. There are three people who I most have to thank – my wife and son for putting up with me and the project, and Dave Kirkham, who let me restore it in his garage. Finding the parts is part of the enjoyment; you go onto eBay, and you go to scrapyards or anywhere to track it all down. The Hirschmann aerial came from the US.”
Costas Morfakis from north London – one of many first-time visitors – pointed out the dual appeal of the historic Oxfordshire market town. “I dropped my wife off at Bicester Village and then came here, so we were both happy,” he explained. “It’s a fantastic setting.” He bought his lovely Turkis metallic BMW 3.0S 17 years ago: “I haven’t seen another E3 for ages and there are two here.”
And here’s that other E3, a Fjord 3.0Si on ‘cotton reel’ alloys, with a Fiat Panda Sisley 4x4 in the background (one of two at the event) next to a Ferrari 550 Maranello.
Fellow Scramble first-timer Shaun Woodward from Kimbolton had brought an even rarer BeeEm, his immaculate red ’67 2000CS – one of less than 30 in the UK. Alongside it is the gleaming yellow 2002 Lux that Brett Israel has owned for 22 years.
The new Motor Market proved popular, with all sorts up for grabs – 22 vehicles in all – including an ‘oily-rag’ Dodge Brothers Model 30 tourer (in the background) for £12,000 or a choice of German 2-litres. The pristine, matching-numbers ’69 Porsche 911T could have been yours for £75,000 while the BMW 2002 project was ‘open to offers’.
If you didn’t fancy either of those – or your pockets weren’t deep enough for the Porsche – there was a charming Vauxhall HA Viva for £3950. Or if you were after something a lot younger, how about a mint Rover Metro for £1995ovno?
Rob Green brought his exquisite 1938 Triumph Vitesse with Flow-Free body. The streamlined body was only offered on the longer 2-litre chassis, which could accommodate the side-mounted spare. This Flow-Free body had originally been on a Bentley 4.5 Litre, dilapidated by ’94 when Green fitted it onto the Vitesse chassis.
Some of our other highlights from around the wonderfully evocative facility…
Lancias from the ’50s and ’60s: the beautiful Aurelia B20 GT was once owned by Britain’s first F1 World Champion, Mike Hawthorn.
Across the aisle from the Lancias was the Blast House, home to James Mitchell’s Pendine business, which had an assortment of British machinery outside.
A sharp-looking group of ‘razor edge’ Volkswagen Karmann Ghias.
Typical of the variety at Bicester, an MG BGT V8, with a Peugeot 505 and a BMW CSL.
Loads of people fell for this wonderful truck alongside Historit’s hangar.
Here’s an unlikely pair – both immaculate, though – a Morris Marina estate with a Ghia L6.4.
Lovely pre- and post-war Rileys with the backdrop of the control tower.
Late-model Bristol 411 with gorgeous 400.
Lovely two-tone Citroën Rosalie with Model T Ford.
A couple of the C&SC Our classics made it to Bicester; here’s the Port family on the way home, following a Lancia Beta.
And one of the biggest vehicles at the venue, a magnificent Alvis Stalwart.
Hagerty Insurance’s popular Drive It Day tour – for 100 pre-1990 cars – kicked off at Towcester Racecourse and comprised an 80-mile scenic route to Bicester where the firm launched its Valuation Areana in partnership with H&H Auctions.