Over the past few years I’ve learned that there’s absolutely no better way of indulging your hopes for a great new motoring year than joining the huge throng of classic car lovers at Brooklands, the world’s first purpose-built race circuit, near Byfleet, just inside London’s orbital M25 motorway.
Well over 1000 cars always show up – conforming to no rules other than that they can get to the venue under their own steam and are at least 30 years old – cand the variety is amazing. This year’s event was extra special, because the restoration and relocation of Brooklands’ famous Wellington hangar, plus the opening of various new museum buildings, both cleared the former Finishing Straight for more classic cars to be displayed, and provided a new drawcard for the event’s 5000-plus walk-in visitors.
Everything went perfectly. But for the odd spot of rain the weather was stable, which induced many people to drive long distances from all points of the compass. One Reliant Scimitar owner I met arrived early from Dumfries, having driven all night. He’d driven past a dozen smaller events closer to home for two powerful reasons: “a duty” to support this mother of all racing circuits, and a desire (knowing for certain there’d be other Scimitars on site) to hobnob with like-minded owners. Another bloke drove from Plymouth on a 1930s Ariel 350cc motorbike.
Best of all was the sheer variety of cars. Sure, the usual Jaguar Eagle E-Types and Healeys were there, but the audience was of a mind to admire rarer stuff: fit-looking Minxs and Austin Maxis, a superb 1960 Panhard saloon, a couple of two-stroke Saabs, a sky-blue 1970 Tatra saloon (complete with rear-mounted air-cooled V8 engine), and a crazy, turbocharged A-series Mini with so much plumbing crammed in its engine bay that the bonnet wouldn’t fit and the reg number had to be printed on a huge oil cooler slung between the headlights.