This Classic Car Show continues to expand in terms of the volume and variety of cars on show and in terms of the size of the Grand Avenue where cars are driven up and down the cavernous main hall to improve the visual and aural experience for the audience.
I knew it was my lucky day when I received a call from the Porsche Club GB office to offer me a last minute place for the “Evening with Jacky Ickx” event they had organised at Porsche Centre East London.
Upon arrival – I was chatting with Ed Pike (co-organiser with other half Nick of of PCGB London Region) and another club member over a glass of wine when a dapper gentleman wandered over and introduced himself to us with – “Hello – I’m Jacky”, before shaking each of us by the hand.
It was none other than Belgian motor racing legend – Jacky Ickx!
Darwinian principles can be applied as much to automotive design and manufacturing as they have been to evolutionary biology. “Survival of the fittest” has been the recipe of enduring success for a number of car marques but it has also seen the extinction of many more.
From the very first cars – certain marques have driven down developmental cul-de-sacs whilst others have, through inspired progressive improvement, survived to the present day.
As one of the most successful surviving marques – it’s interesting to analyse some of the factors and earlier designs that assured Porsche’s initial establishment, success and ultimate longevity as a manufacturer of road and race cars.
Normally I go down to Hyde Park to see the veteran cars receive last minute preparation before setting off as dawn breaks but this year I had a bit of a lie-in.
Hopping on the first tube – I headed for Leicester Square and then took a brisk walk down Charing Cross Road and across Trafalgar Square to the Mall to watch the cars turn onto Horse Guards Road en-route for Brighton via Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge.
There was a serious chill in the air but the sun shone brightly and with hardly any other people around it was a great vantage point to see the cars in action.
This event has become an annual institution as the Saturday prelude to Sunday’s London to Brighton run.
Locals and visitors to London are privileged to be able to wander amongst the carefully preserved but enthusiastically used progenitors of modern cars.
I got chatting to a coupe of guys from Antwerp who were knocked out by their luck in coming to London for the first (but not last) time and just happening upon the Regent Street Motor Show. Loads of other visitors must have shared the same fortuitous experience.
The autumn clock change softened the blow of having to get up early to drive my noisy 911 through slumbering London to Brooklands.
As I neared my goal on a damp and misty morning I joined a long queue of like minded enthusiasts in their precious cars.
A full English breccie and strong coffee in the Club House set me up for some serious car nerd mooching around the visitors car parks and the museum exhibits.
Having missed so many motoring events this year because of work commitments and other reasons – it was nice to attend this final HSCC event of the year.
When my friend and fellow petrol-head Arun suggested a trip up to the Ace Cafe in his wonderful Caterham 7 for the the Classic Car Night + Lotus + Midget & Sprite meeting I had no hesitation in accepting.
After the minor complication of getting my non-sylph-like frame into the tiny Caterham 7 cockpit and strapping myself into the full harness the journey up to the Ace Cafe was great (despite the early evening homeward-bound traffic). The 7 really is like a 2-seater jet-propelled skateboard – soooooo fast and responsive.
A 6AM start saw me blasting out of London in the old 911 along the M40 before hitting quiet country roads North of Oxford. Well they would have been quiet but for the fractious popping and banging of my engine!
Undeterred by fog, the aftermath of a nasty crash on the M40 and an inordinate number of flattened foxes and the odd two-dimensional deer littering the carriageway – I pressed on.
What a difference a day makes. The WEC weekend started off with snow and sleet on Saturday but Sunday brought glorious sunshine even though it was still a bit chilly.
The WEC 6 Hour Race was obviously the main event of the weekend. The 2016 WEC season opener and chance to really see what development has been successfully carried out by the teams over the Winter break.
Whilst qualifying provided an indication of top speed and relative handling capabilities – endurance race cars and drivers can only prove themselves in race conditions i.e. over several hours and with all classes of cars out on track simultaneously.