Last year we were all careful to find shade and drink gallons of water at the CLASSIC NOSTALGIA event at Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb. It was supposed to be the “hottest day on record” and so on. We would all expire from heat exhaustion, spontaneously combust or simply fry under that rare phenomenon, Summer Sunshine.
We didn't . It was a hot, but very enjoyable, weekend, and this year it seems like it all happened on another world!
The 2023 event was wet. Very wet. So was the VSCC Prescott Hillclimb a couple of weekends later. But more so if anything. And two previous events have featured sizable thunder storms. Mud rather than sunburn has been the feature of this summer.
And it's been cold too. Forget the weather forecasts and the news stories, it's been a miserable cold soggy summer to this point and the nice spring conditions we had in May and June seem a long time ago.
Shelsley started so well. I arrived on the Friday evening under a blue sky , in a comfortable temperature and a light breeze. Perfect conditions in a picture perfect corner of England, with it's patchwork of fields, the manor house over on the opposite hill, and half timbered tutor houses scattered among the hedgerows.
Then it started raining overnight and hardly stopped throughout the first day of action . Such a shame. There were so many great cars present and the fastest of them, like the Hepworth family BRM P167 Can Am car, or the ex DeAngelis Shadow DN9B F1 car , had to soft pedal it up the narrow confined course on unsuitable tyres. Luckily day two was lovely and with a bigger crowd in evidence the atmosphere was there and the drivers able to provide more robust entertainment. The BRM positively rocked the valley with the enormous bellow of it's massive Chevrolet V8 engine, on 'open pipes'. It wasn't the only one, several other Can Am and F5000 cars, all with similar engines in the back featured among the entry.
1972 McLaren M18 F5000
1971 Harrier F5000
1966 McLaren Elva M1
Aside from such thunderous machinery a dizzying array of single seaters, sports cars and modified saloons crammed into the historic paddock stalls and the size of the crowd on Sunday paid tribute to the appeal of such machinery - it's a sad fact that a ‘modern’ event with the latest, fastest hillclimb cars somehow cannot draw this kind of attendence.
Austin A35-Chevrolet V8
1977 Jaguar XJ Coupe
SPIDER The former Hill Record Holder from the 1920s
And that's before we consider the appeal of a large number of 70s and 80s rally cars…TR8. Vauxhall HSR, 240RS, Audi Sport Quattro etc etc
So, weather not withstanding, this years CLASSIC NOSTALGIA can be counted a success.
Prescott, three weeks later was more a case of rain and then more rain… even a sunny break on the Sunday morning ended with thunder rolling round the Cotswold hills and a torrential downpour that never quite knew when to stop. It turned the access roads into mud-baths, saw people literally skating past our stand and left a lot of motor homes and tow vehicles stranded in the camping field . It was a busy evening for the tractor drivers who later had to pull them out!
Prescott's famous VSCC Car Park included this rare H.E.
This all damped (and more) the usual garden party nature of this long-standing event. The picnic hampers and champagne were not quite so prevalent in the car park at lunch time. But there was, as always an amazing turn out of spectator's cars to back up a bulging paddock on competitors. Where else would you find an Alfa Romeo 8C, an 8 Litre Bentley and a Delage crammed among lines of pre war Alvis, Rolls, MG, Riley, Amilcar, Salmson, Bugatti, Maserati, BMW, Delahaye, Lagonda and so forth , just in the car park rather than on display?
1953 Riley RM and 1939 Rover 14 Drophead Coupe
1958 Aston Martin DB MkII
As always, rain or no rain (and there was a lot…) the conversations were good, the people interesting and sales were better than the conditions would suggest. Although it was good for umberella sales… I had brought a bo
On the Saturday my daughter Georgie spent the day helping Kiwi Kevin the ice cream man in his van - something to add to her growing CV along with waitressing in a two different local Inns, helping me on the book stand and working in a school for special needs children . Not too shabby for a 15 year old. However that meant I had to take her home on Saturday night (she was serving sunday lunch the next day) so missed out on the usual tour round the Prescott camping fields, which are as much a feast of old cars as the car park or the paddock. I was told however that the weather had made this the quietest year anyone could remember and it lacked the usual party atmosphere.
1939 Peugeot 202
Sunday morning was better. There was even some sunshine. A lot of familiar faces popped into the marquee to say hello and I did some brisk deals. It didn't last however and some really heavy storms came in, complete with rumbles of thunder and dampened the whole event further. By 3pm most traders were packing up and as Sod's Law would have it…the sun finally came out properly! Too late…
Exactly when and where we will be out with the bookstall next is up for confirmation and depends on matters like my car passing it's MOT ! But watch this space…