Craig David lyric? Noooo – just a meteorological description of my two days at Silverstone Classic.
High Summer weather in the frozen tundra of rural Northamptonshire ebbed & flowed from cold & extremely wet on Friday, warm and sunny on Saturday and back again to cold and wet on Sunday.
It was a real shame for the competitors who struggled to have any meaningful practice/qualifying runs on Friday, then had to switch to dry set-up on Saturday and back to decidedly-soggy set-up on Sunday. Less than ideal conditions but not bad enough to deter stoic participants and spectators!
The particular theme for the Prescott Hill Climb event on Sun 24th May 2015 was “La vie en bleu” – a celebration of all things French.
This provided a welcome focus on French car marques with representatives from Alpine Renault, Amilcar, Berliet, Citroen, Darracq, De Dion Bouton, Delage, Delahaye, Hotchkiss, Lorraine Dietrich, Matra, Renault and a whole range of other famous and some less famous French marques. The turn out of vintage French cars was particularly spectacular with some that I’d never heard of before.
Mixing the French contingent of cars amongst other cars competing on the day – made for a great spectacle.
Disaster! I started the late May Bank Holiday weekend with no plans, a 911 needing exercise and a burning urge to scratch my “interesting-car-itch”!
Solution! Enter “May Classic Car Events” into Safari and “Hey-Presto” – up pops Prescott.
This venerable hill climb venue had been on my list of must-visit-events for donkey’s years but for some perverse reason I’d never got around to going so I thought why not? Armed with my usual UK Summer car event kit of thermals and waterproofs – I set off from London at the crack of dawn not knowing quite what to expect.
The Donington Historic Festival goes from strength to strength and for 2015 – races were spread over no less than 3 days spanning the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Fortunately for many of the attendees – cold weather made “anoraks” a thermal necessity rather than just a disparaging character assessment!
Donington embraces Classic Car clubs by offering cheap ticket deals to members with the added benefit of parking in marque specific areas of the infield plus the chance to participate in a lunch time parade lap around the circuit. What more can you ask? OK – warmer weather would be nice – sort it out Mr Wheatcroft!
Jaz Porsche provided a great uplift from the January gloom by holding an open day to show off their new St. Albans premises and to display some of their projects and handy work.
Sleet and snow meant that driving conditions were not ideal but the prospect of quick blast up the M1 in my old 911 to Steve and Claire Winter’s new premises and meet up with fellow Porsche enthusiasts over a drink and bite to eat was too good to miss.
The new workshop is much more spacious than the one that Jaz left in Wembley and with fresh paint and great Porsche posters adorning the walls it looks like a clinically clean environment in which to service and restore treasured Porsches of all ages.
A quick chat with Steve resulted in me adding to his order for US-sourced Salt & Pepper 911 carpet sets. Then a chat with Bruce Cooper from Sportwagen got me booked in for a paint check and trimming work to fit the new carpet set. Job done!
The lack of sunshine during the dark Winter months gives rise to a particular form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which can result in susceptible people suffering from mild depression. This condition is treated by exposing sufferers to bright light.
I suffer from a very specific form of Seasonal Affective Disorder called ICDD or Interesting Car Deficiency Disorder! The only viable treatment for this terrible affliction is to expose sufferers to interesting cars at any and every opportunity.
The London Classic Car Show at London’s Excel Centre provided just such an opportunity! Judging by the turnout – lots of other people had also opted to for a serious course of ICDD treatment!!!
Following the tradition of the last few years many of the London to Brighton Veteran Cars were on display on the Saturday before Sunday’s Run in the Regent Street Motorshow.
It offers a great opportunity to get up close to these wonderful old cars and to chat to their owners/drivers but it’s no substitute for dragging yourself out of bed to get to Hyde Park before dawn to see the cars embarking on the run (See separate London to Brighton Post).
Question: What Do You Do On A Damp Saturday in Autumn?
Answer: Drag your now beautifully running 911 out of the garage and head out to a Historic Club Race Meeting (other classics will do if you don’t have a 911).
My 911 is now running beautifully after diligent further fettling by Steve Winter at Jaz Porsche. Consequently, I’ve been looking for reasons for a bit of a blast and a trip up to the HSCC event at Silverstone was an obvious choice.
The weather forecast was grim but knowing that Silverstone has it’s own micro-climate which defies logic and predictions of the Meteorological Office I thought sod-it, just go and see how things turn out. The clincher was the promise of a coffee, chat and inspection of a fellow DDKer’s 911 2.2S on my way back to London.
The 2014 event was meant to feature the 1970 Le Mans winning Porsche 917K plus it’s two drivers but sadly only Richard Attwood was able to attend as Hans Hermann wasn’t well enough to travel to the UK.
To make up for this however – Jurgen Barth turned up to delight the crowds with a raucous blast up the driveway in the 917 after it was eventually cajoled into running on all 12 cylinders. I’ve jump started a few cars in my time but seeing a 917 being jump started was a first. It was great that perseverance won out as the sight and sound of this car was a visual and aural delight.
1) The name! Let’s face it – if someone asks you what you’re driving these days and you respond by saying with “well actually old chap I’m driving a Gordon Keeble” it’s highly likely to be a conversation stopper. You might as well say – “I’m driving a Milton Keynes”.
2) Beautiful and understated Italian designed GT bodywork. This was a Giorgietto Guigaro design when he was still working for Bertone and it contains some design details which link it to other Guigaro designs for Alfa Romeo in particular. Unusually – the bodywork was executed in fibreglass instead of metal but this doesn’t detract from the overall beauty of the car.
3) Seriously powerful and flexible Chevy Corvette engine, all round disk brakes and De Dion suspension. Depite being manufactured in tiny numbers – there were some great design features on this car and using a race proven engine, Dunlop disk brakes and sophisticated De Dion rear suspension was a master stroke.
4) Its rarity but also it’s influence on cars to follow. Only 100 Gordon Keebles were made of which around 90 are thought to survive. Despite this – certain aspects of Gordon Keeble design had a profound influence on Giotto Bizzarrini in his creation of the Iso Rivolta GT, the Iso Grifo and the Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada/Corsa.