Record New Year's Day turnout enjoys Brooklands sunshine

| 2 Jan 2013

Classic cars turned out in record numbers for Brooklands Museum's fast-growing annual gathering on 1 January. 

Every corner of the historic site was packed with amazingly diverse machines, ranging from Ford Model Ts to a Lamborghini Murciélago. 

"We had 1100 cars through the top gate," reported an ecstatic museum director Allan Winn. "The highlight for me was the eclectic mix – it was just like Classic & Sports Car's content come to life." 

Car clubs arrived in massed groups, with a strong display from the Bentley Drivers Club – headed by two vintage 'Blowers' – that packed the famous Member’s paddock, while the Reliant Sabre & Scimitar Owners' Club (below) lined up in force on the old Finishing Straight. 

Among the superb selection of pre-war sports cars was Tim Ely’s famous ex-Mike Hawthorn Riley Ulster Imp, which he’s treasured since 1959.

He explained: "I was a friend of Mike and when I heard that it was for sale after his tragic accident, I had to buy it. Mrs Hawthorn accepted £150 but it was part-dismantled and in a poor state. Mike planned to restore it after retiring from racing, and I like to think he’d approve of the car today."

Other British pre-war sports car greats attracting attention were Andrew Radford’s fabulous 1930 MG Tigress (above), complete with F Gordon Crosby-styled leaping cat mascot, and a Low Chassis Invicta that looked particularly lean among the 'fastest vintage lorries'.


There was a good showing of Vauxhalls, including several 30-98s kicking off its centenary anniversary with an early run, but rarer than these superb vintage tourers was Matthew Calvert’s immaculate Ventora.

"We reckon only 10 survive because so many rusted away or went the banger-racing route," said Calvert. "I'm nostalgic for them because my dad had an FD which I later owned. Recently I traded up for this FE that, with power steering and more grunt, is much nicer to drive. I’d love to know more about its history." 

American-car enthusiasts were out in number, including several Chrysler 300s headed by Geoff Mitchell’s fabulous L-type, which was the star of the C&SC 30th-anniversary car park party last summer.

Longest car in attendance was Terry Sandom’s garish 'Opera Window' 1976 Lincoln Continental MkIV (above). "I found it abandoned in a shed in 2000 after the owner moved to Spain, and we soon got it back on the road," he said. "It has a 7.5-litre V8 but will give the same mpg as a Range Rover if you drive it respectfully. It measures about 20ft long and is a little wallowy. I’ve just lost my storage so it’s up for sale. I’d love to get a Zodiac MkIII to replace it."

Pre-war cars don’t come much more original than John Soden’s 1932 Nash Big Six. Looking as if it had driven straight out of Bonnie and Clyde, this timewarp machine has clocked just 4000 miles. Soden said: "It was first owned by a school teacher who couldn’t drive and had her friends chauffeur her around. During WW2 it was parked and it wasn’t discovered until 1989. Everything you take off is like new, and it drives much more sweetly than a Ford Model A."

Other long-term-owned classics included Dr Richard Penrose’s immaculate 1954 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupé. "They only made 194 rhd coupés and I bought this in 1967," said Penrose. "Rectory Classics has just restored it with lots of upgrades that purists won’t approve of, but it’s now a delight to drive."

More pictures

Chrysler Imperial looked outsized in the traditional Surrey setting

AC Cobra and vintage Six

Kelly Stevens' Ferrari 365GT 2+2

Packed banking demonstrated the wide variety of classics, such as Opel GT in foreground

A brace of supercharged MGs added to the mix of pre-war machinery

It wasn't just classic cars – everyone loves a Unimog (on left)

Superb selection of Yanks was one of the highlights of the 1 January meeting