Bigger seems to be better, if Bicester Heritage’s Sunday Scrambles are anything to go by, with the first meeting of the year providing another cracking day out.
In fact, it is hard to believe that it’s not even five years ago that the ‘Sunday Scramble’ was born, as the green shoots of what would become Bicester Heritage were revealed at the former RAF Bicester site in Oxfordshire.
Since then, what began life as a small ‘cars and coffee get-together’ has become an unmissable event at the restored airbase, with thousands of enthusiasts pouring through the gates in an incredible variety of classic vehicles.
For the first Scramble of 2019, held yesterday, organisers reported a record number of pre-event ticket sales, and both the fascinating Technical Site – whose specialists always open their doors for visitors to see the work going on inside – and the airfield were covered with classics from all eras.
The C-type hangar was filled with veteran and vintage machinery and there were club areas around the demonstration track, with groups including Club Lotus, the Aston Martin Owners’ Club and the MG Car Club – along with more unusual sets from the likes of the Oxford Motor Club and G4 Challenge Owners’ Club.
Despite all of that, it’s the lack of meaningful curation that makes this informal event so special.
There were gems to be found throughout the Technical Site, tucked away beneath the trees or along the perimeter roads.
Where else would you find a mint early Volkswagen Scirocco Mk2 alongside a 1964 Pontiac Parisienne, or a Chrysler Avenger beside a Bentley 4½ Litre?
The arrival of specialists Porsche Classic Life and Sports Purpose as Bicester residents has ensured that the Stuttgart marque has a particularly strong presence, with 911s of all eras, yet there is always plenty of distraction should rear-engined flat-sixes (or flat-fours, in the case of a perfect 912E) float your boat.
We loved the drop-dead gorgeous pair of ‘Hakosuka’ first-generation Nissan Skyline GT-Rs, the super-cute Fiat 500-based 1964 Neckar Weinsberg (pictured top of the article) and a simply perfect Stroke-8 Mercedes-Benz saloon.
Elsewhere, classics with a common theme found themselves grouped together.
A René Bonnet Djet, Murena and Avantime bookended Matra history, there was a trio of off-road titans in the form of Chevy Blazer, military Austin Gypsy and Land Rover Defender, and even a fantastic ‘little and large’ bicycle duo with a Raleigh Chopper and Tomahawk.
The original BMC Works transporter – complete with rally Cooper inside – drew a crowd, but at this event modern classics are also crowd pleasers, with as much interest in a mint Opel Manta GT/E, a super-clean Volvo 240 and Alex Robbins’ poverty-spec Peugeot 205 as for the exotic Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and vast ’59 Caddy Sedan de Ville.
While we’re on the subject of Americana, there was plenty of variety for fans of all things Stateside.
C&SC’s senior contributor Julian Balme brought along his fabulous Ford Galaxie Country Sedan and there was a superb selection of pick-ups, from ‘rat rod’ Ford F-series to fabulous, gleaming Chevy show trucks.
And reflecting the site’s RAF past were the local Home Guard re-enactors, who marched through the base before returning to their detailed diorama complete with military vehicles and a lovely Rover P3 tourer.
The next Sunday Scramble has been timed to coincide with Drive It Day on 28 April; tickets cost £8 for adults (£5 if you arrive in a pre-1990 vehicle), with under-16s free. To book, click here.