After what seemed like rain nearly every other day for weeks on end, January 1st dawned bright and sunny which enticed a good many cars to attend the joint BDC & VSCC New Year’s Day Meet at Markyate.
As always, this event attracted a fine display of vintage Bentleys, which included Eddie McGuire’s 1930 4 ½ Litre replica blower – a famous car that was heavily raced in the 1940s by famed inventor Archie Butterworth. ‘One of the reasons I love this car is that a previous owner Everett Dickinson, who sold his Duesenberg in order to purchase it, took the car to America and was still driving it at the grand old age of 100,’ enthused Eddie. ‘Everett, who was also a founder member of the SCCA was last driven as a passenger in this car when he was 103, so I like to think of it in my ownership as a little bit of gilt by association!’
Event organiser Malcolm Tearle’s 1926 4½ Litre Le Mans replica was restored to concours condition around seven years ago. The car was sold new by Henlys of London, and went to an owner in Ireland. It subsequently disappeared from the record book until it re-emerged in 2002. It was later restored by Clive Oliver who fitted a Le Mans replica body in preference to its original Harrison four-seat unit. Colin Laybourn hurriedly refitted the radiator, bonnet and headlamps to his 1924 3.0 Litre Blue label Bentley earlier in the morning in order to make it to Markyate. ‘Colin’s car represents an extremely original example in every respect, that’s very hard to find nowadays,’ pointed out BDC President Jimmy Medcalf. The car sports its original long chassis, engine and bodywork, right down to the correct beaded edge tyres. ‘It’s even got the original dirt under the wings,’ quipped Colin!
One of the day’s most striking cars was John and Heather Warden’s Delage 6C, sporting exact replica bodywork of the car that won the 1938 TT Race in the hands of Frenchman Louis Gerard. Recapturing the halcyon days of his lost youth was Peter Langridge with his 1934 MG P-Type, a car that he first owned when he was 17 years old. ‘I found this P-Type around 15 years ago in pieces, and then spent the next 10 years on and off rebuilding it,’ commented Peter.
Retired Doctor Alan Minchin arrived in his 1955 Jaguar XK140 DHC, a car that’s been in his long-term ownership. ‘Many years ago I raced it at Silverstone and used to drive out to the Nurburgring for the Old Timer Racing event,’ recalls Alan. ‘There’s also a photo of the car that appeared in a Hayes book in the 1960s about purchasing a secondhand sports car. It shows photos of rust around the wheel arches and the wording suggested the car could well be destined for a scrapyard the following year. Well it didn’t and here it is today and still driving really well!’ A recent purchase by the Cain family has been their 1935 Riley Gamecock, which was one of the works cars that took part in the Alpine Rally that year. ‘With a six-cylinder engine and a triple SU carburettor set-up, the car zips along beautifully, and it sounds and smells fantastic too,’ declared Max Cain, who was still getting to grips with the pre-select gearbox.
Other interesting vintage cars attending included Michael Moule’s Slough-built 1926 Citroen B12. The body is unusual in as much as it was coachbuilt by Victoria Coachworks of Horseferry Road, in south west London. ‘With its gravity fed fuel system and thermosiphon cooling, it’s fine for French farmers on level ground, but hills are a big killer,’ joked Michael. ‘With its three-speed gearbox, once you’re down into second gear, it’s all walking pace stuff, but you have a grand view from the lofty seating position.’
Star classic attending was Lenny and Pat Boulton’s 1959 Jensen 541R that was on the Jensen stand at the ’59 Earls Court Motor Show. The Jensen was purchased from the stand by its first owner – a hotelier from Chichester – who ran it up until 1981 when it was acquired by Lenny. He then took the car to pieces and rebuilt it to concours condition, and it’s been a multi-concours winner ever since.