To Use Or Not To Use? Thats is the question. Competeing with Vintage Cars.

Last month I posted a video clip of a vintage Bentley in very spirited action on the VSCC Welsh Trial – and it caused a lot of comment . Comment that was polarised between “Great to see it being used as intended” and “How can you do this to a fine old car?”   It seemed to stir up quite passionate views from either side  and was seem by thousands of people within a few days (the closest I have ever got to going viral) Click Here To See On YouTube

bentleyA couple of weeks later I posted another video from the Cotswold Trial. Same car, different family member at the wheel and while not quite so lurid, it got tongues wagging again due to the high revs WO Bentley’s masterpeiece was pulling as it neared to top of a tricky section, wheels spinning merrily, passngers bouncing away furiously.  Personally I enjoyed every moment of both, as did most of those watching. Click Here To Seebentley-30-98

Sports cars, of any age, should be used in a sporting manner , surely?  Some felt not. The way in which a large vintage car was being thrown up a muddy bank, over bumps and potholes, chiped by stones and scratched by undergrowth was anathema. That several younger enthusiasts (back in the day they would have been referred to as “Undergraduates”…whatever happened to that term?)  were in the back seats causing the rear springs to reach their extremes of flex in an attempt to aid grip was enough to produce a ‘fit of the vapours’ (what happened to that expression too?)

However many pointed out that aside from the whole point of having such a car was to enjoy using it as originally intended, it was also a case of anything that broke being fixable anyway. Nothing that was damaged could not be put right.  They are machines; they wear, they have componants replaced.  That’s life. model-a-sam-burgess

Extrapolating this argument it’s also said by many of those involved that putting vintage cars through this process on a regular basis, and there are numerous trials like this each season, has fostered a whole spares-and-repairs industry which is allowing other, non-competeing cars, to remain in working order. If the demand for new Bentley rear springs or Austin 7 front wings was not there, because so few were being consumed by gentle motoring, the companies that could produce them for less than a king’s ransom, would not be there . There would not be a commercially viable customer

I do concur that for some the sight of a fine vintage Bentley being given (as Basil Fawlty would say) a “good thrashing” is too much like fixing a Monet on your kitchen wall with drawing pins…

As in all good arguments, there are two sides and most of us, if honest, can see the merits of both. But then unlike a Monet, your vintage Bentley is surely not best enjoyed as a museum exhibit?




4 thoughts on “To Use Or Not To Use? Thats is the question. Competeing with Vintage Cars.

  1. Max Tyler

    Definitely classic cars should be used. 250GTOs should be raced. Cream Cracker MGs should be trialled. Anything else is just “museum” stuff and it may as well be a cardboard cut out for all the good anything is in a museum. Get it out there, drive it, break it, repair it, that’s the cycle of life that keeps us going. Concours is the devil’s work, get it dirty!

    1. simonlewis Post author

      Spot on Max. While we all appreciate a beautifully turned out car,I’m sure, the concours-style of perfection leaves me cold. I like to see some patina, some signs of age and use. A 90 year old car that looks like it was built last thursday might as well have been. In effect the search to make an old car ‘better than new’ is to polish away their history and personality. However, I accept it is entirely an owners choice either way. But for choice,give me the odd dent and some cracked original paint over a mirror-finish any time.

  2. Richard Newton

    Most of the cars in vintage racing are reproductions. Fewer than half the cars on the track have racing provenance. That changes the original question.

    History is not lost if one of these cars crash.

    1. simonlewis Post author

      I agree to some extent, even the cars with actual racing history often run replacement engines,gearboxes,axels etc while the originals are preserved out of the car. Thats fair enough. Better to see , for example, an ERA racing at full speed with a replacement engine block in the front than to have it as a static ‘relic’. Cars are by definition moving devices and should remain so where possible.

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