There are many great things gifted to the world by Britain, and the British pub (or public house to use the full name) is one of the better ones. Even better when the pub is question dates back to the sixteenth century and is on the largest village green in the kingdom. Ideal for a Friday evening, casual and all welcome classic car gathering. That’s what happens on the first Friday of the month during the summer at the Roytal Oak at Barrington, Cambridgehire, and a surprising quantity and variety of cars appears.
So, get yourself a drink (warm beer is best!), and we’ll take a walk around some the highlights from the July event.
First up, because it was closest to the pub itself, is this 1953 Daimler Conquest saloon. By this time, Daimler were in a declining niche in the market, as producers such as Jaguar and Rover were offering almost as much traditional style for less money, by virtue of producing in larger volumes. This car offered a very traditionally styled body on a very tradional chassis, and was effectively a variant of the Lanchester Fourteen, from Daimler’s lower tier marque, with a six cylinder rather than four cylinder engine. Double wishbone suspension was an interesting point, though.
Allegedly, the name came from the price of £1066, plus taxes. Believe that if you want to. Production ceased in 1958, after 10,000 copies, and by 1960 Daimler had been taken over by Jaguar.
Talking Jaguar, how about a 1957 XK140? The XK140 was the successor to the XK120, and was a development of the earlier car, adding some styling revisions, and re-jigging the packaging to release more interior room, and with a realigned steering column, with rack and pinion steering, to give a more modern and comfortable driving position.
And now two cars in a similar vein but from an earlier period. The 1926 Bentley was one of the surprises and hits of the evening. The Bentley was the truly one of the supercars of its day, with derivatives winning Le Mans five times between 1924 and 1930. This car has a 4.4 litre, overhead camshaft, straight four cylinder engine, with around 110bhp and four speed unsynchronised gearbox. Ettore Bugatti described the Bentley as “the fastest trucks in Europe”, and it is certainly a big car with a wheelbase of 118 inches and a distinct lack of manoeuvrability, to say the least.
Alternatively, how about a Lagonda? This is a 1932 car is a Lagonda 2 Litre Speed, with 1954cc, four cylinder engine. Lagonda was a car for the moneyed gentleman and racer, and perhaps not surprisingly the company did not make it through the 1930s without financial failure and change in ownership. Still, great to see a very rare car outside a concours enclosure.
Lagonda has been part of Aston Martin since 1947. This Aston Martin DB4 from 1961 has clearly been subject to great care, maybe restoration, and is still lacking the bunpers.
That might not sound much, but it did make identification a little slower than it should have been, with words like Zagato being used. But, really, all you need to do is look at it and know it is one of the world’s iconic cars.
Glorious. Car of the evening maybe?
But there’s competition for that (entirely informal and personal) award, not least from this 1923 Morris Oxford Bullnose, so known because of the shape of the radiator. CC has read before of my interest in William Morris, his cars and his life, and this is a great example of the car that enabled Morris to build his fortune. In the mid 1920s, Morris had something like 60% of the UK market.
This example has a dickey seat – folded away tonight, but the step on the left rear spring hanger is definitive evidence.
Morris’s great home market rival was, of course, Austin, and as Morris faded in the 1930s, Austin grew market share, with cars like this Austin 12/4, seen here with Laundelette body, with a folding cover over the rear passenger seats.
Eventually, Austin and Morris came together in 1952 and by the mid 1960s were building as wide a range of cars as any manufacturer in Europe. Here are the extremes of the regular showroom offer – a Mini and the Vanden Plas Princess R. Depending who you ask, the R stood for Royal or Rolls-Royce, who supplied a six cylinder engine usually used for an armoured car to BMC for this car. Not surprisingly, this was not a commercial success, and was allowed to die once BMC had bought Jaguar and when the Leyland takeover was completed.
One other car from the BLMC family – a 1965 Rover 2000 presented in excellent condition, and in a colour that shows the shape so well, and also fits the times well.
Quite a star of the evening for me, as I’ve long had a soft spot for this car, with its Citroen influence styling, some intriguing engineering and for setting a template Britain forgot all about 10 years later.
Again, presented in excellent condition, though I do not recall seeing many with white wall tyres.
As Rover was fading, BMW was rising. This 1973 BMW 3.0CSL was not really a Rover competitor – it lined up somewhere between a Jaguar and a Ferrari, being the equivalent to the current BMW M6. This car has a 3003cc straight six with around 200bhp, aluminium doors, boot lid and bonnet and thinner glass.
The car would have been supplied with a full set of wide wings and spoilers in the boot, as some were not road legal in Germany, to create a full Touring race car effect, and the homologated car won the European Touring Car six times from 1973 to 1979. This is the Batmobile, out for Friday night. However, I have some doubts over whether this is a genuine 3.0CSL, as it is not left hand drive and shows no sign of the aerodynamic blade on the top of front wing, although it does have the 3003cc engine.
And one last surprise – a 1926 Fiat with a 990cc overhead cam engine, arguably the first mass produced overhead cam engine in such a modest car, and with a three speed gearbox featuring a large gap between second and third.
So, what’s your car of the show? How about another drink whilst we walk round again? Even the weather’s co-operating!