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Golden Oldies

Festival and Double 12 Published: 29th Jun 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Golden Oldies Running repairs to a sports Peugeot
Golden Oldies
Golden Oldies A loaned 60-hp Mercedes won the 1903 Gordon Bennett Trophy in Ireland after the works 90-hp team cars had been destroyed in a factory fire
Golden Oldies
Golden Oldies This strange rear-engined car is an Alfa Romeo
Golden Oldies This 1938 Bugatti Type 57C was originally the property of Ettore Bugatti himself
Golden Oldies This year’s Revival will feature the inaugural Settrington Cup for Austin J40 pedal cars, whose young drivers will compete in a two-part race
Golden Oldies The mighty W125 was Mercedes-Benz’s riposte to Auto Union’s Type C. English star Dick Seaman joined the Mercedes team for 1937
Golden Oldies
Golden Oldies Ken Prichard Jones drove his Edwar dian Wolsit racer
Golden Oldies This 4.5-litre Lagonda was at the press launch
Golden Oldies I rode aboard Andrew Howe-Davies’ 1911 SCAT racer
Golden Oldies
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One of my annual treats is the preview day for the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival meetings

One of my annual treats is the preview day for the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival meetings, which this year are to be held on 29 June – 1 July and 14-16 September respectively. Each year Lord March lines up a selection of the cars and motorbikes that will be taking part in this year’s events, and a selection of these gives demonstration runs on the Goodwood hillclimb. As this isn’t a timed event, journalists are able to ride in some of the participating vehicles, and over the years I’ve been able to experience such exciting cars as a Model J Duesenberg Speedster and an 8C2900 Alfa Romeo roadster from the passenger seat.

But this year was truly the icing on the cake, for VSCC Past President Roger Collings invited me to ride aboard “Floretta”, the 1908 Grand Prix Itala that belonged to the late George Daniels and which is to be auctioned, with George’s other cars, by Bonhams at the FoS. This 12-litre monster from the dawn of motor racing was driven in the 1908 Dieppe Grand Prix by Alessandro Cagno, former chauffeur to the Queen of Italy, and finished 11th out of 47 starters.

After the race it was sold to a wealthy Englishman who had a four-seat touring body fitted and used it on the road; with a racing body fitted, and driven by a Mr Wil-de-Gose, it won the 20-mile All-Comers Plate race at Brooklands in June 1910, averaging 97.5 mph, which means it must have been hittinhg 105 mph at times!

Rediscovered in Norfolk in the 1920s, it was raced in early VSCC events by “Sam” Clutton. It so happens that in the 1940s Clutton shared ownership with Dr Bob Ewen, who at the time also owned the 1926 Delage which is now mine, so the chance to ride in the car that had once shared its garage was not to be missed.

To get four seats on a relatively short wheelbase meant an unusual body style had to be used; there is only one door on each side, but it gives access to both front and rear seats, for half each front seat back panel opens with the door. Strong catches on the seat back stop the seat/ doors flying open on bends and tipping the driver or front seat passenger on to the road!

This is a car on which you can literally count the beats of its mighty engine individually, whose pistons are over 6 inches in diameter, for at 60 mph, it is only turning over at 1000 rpm! (it develops peak power at around 1600 rpm, equivalent to about 95mph…)

Incorporating a couple of tricky bends, the Goodwood hillclimb is a real test for any car and driver, for beyond the main spectator area it runs alongside a tall and forbidding flint wall that would be unmerciful to anyone colliding with it. Once past the wall, the road passes through a wooded section and over the finishing line, ending in a top paddock high up on the Sussex Downs quite close to the Goodwood horse racing track.

Preceding us up the hill was another truly exciting car, a “new” 1903 60-hp Mercedes discovered in America by Roger Collings some 15 years ago and the subject of a painstaking restoration since. “And now it’s going to get dirty!” smiles Roger, whose son Ben – a noted restorer of early cars – was driving it on the day. he intends to use it in VSCC trials, where its torquey engine and thin tyres should make it an exciting competitor.

The first true “supercar”, the 9.2-litre Mercedes 60 was capable of 85 mph at a time when most cars on the road could barely exceed the nationwide 20-mph speed limit (it was an M25-like 12 mph until the end of 1903…).

The highlight of its career came at the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race, held in Ireland, which was won by a 60-hp model rather hurriedly loaned to Mercedes by an American owner and stripped of its touring body after a factory fire had destroyed the works team of its 90-hp racers. While the Itala was being photographed, Roger took another car from George Daniels’ collection up the hill. This is a huge 45-hp 10.5-litre Daimler Roi-des- Belges tourer, originally built for the Earl of Craven, which incredibly has only had two owners from new. This impressive car is in amazingly original condition, right down to its faded black paintwork.

The theme of this year’s 2012 Festival of Speed is “Young Guns – Born to Win”, celebrating drivers and riders, designers and engineers, whose supreme talent and insatiable thirst for speed earned them immediate superstar status.

Alongside this central theme, the 2012 Festival will celebrate the amazing heritage of Lotus and feature a spectacular collection of successful Lotus cars, including F1, Indycars, saloons and sports cars. And, said Lord March, the usual sculpture feature in front of Goodwood House will also celebrate 60 years of Lotus, which was founded in 1962 by former Austin Seven special builder Colin Chapman in an old stable behind his father’s Railway Hotel in Hornsey, North London.

Brooklands Double Twelve The press day for the Brooklands Double Twelve event brought another multilitre excitement, as I rode the course – including a stirring run on the steeply curved Members’ Banking – as a thriled passenger in Andrew Howe-Davies’ 1911 Simplex-engined 9.2-litre Targa Florio type SCAT racer.

Built by a company based in Turin that was founded by Giovanni Ceirano, who played a key role in the early history of the Italian motor industry, Andrew’s car is a regular competitor in Edwardian car events. It made rapid ascents of the steep Brooklands test Hill, which were made all the more exciting by the sharp righthand turn just after the summit to avid embedding the car in the newly-restored restaurant building, which is now the home of AC Cobra specialists the Brooklands Motor Works.

They are the official Hill Sponsor for the Double Twelve weekend, which this year will be held on 16-17 June, exactly 105 years after the official opening of Brooklands, the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit.

The Brooklands Double Twelve Motorsport Festival is jointly organised by the Brooklands Museum and the Vintage Sports-Car Club, and the weekend includes the competitive Double Twelve Driving Concours and the Double Twelve Speed Trials, with the Test Hill Challenge on Sunday afternoon.

The Double Twelve Driving Concours will feature a total of 144 cars (12 in each of the 12 classes) that will compete in and around the Museum site over the weekend. Special classes will celebrate 50 years of the MGB and 80 years of the Coupe des Dames - a class confined to lady drivers using sports and rally cars.

The Brooklands Speed Trials will take place on the Saturday, with some 100 Pre-war cars tackling a challenging 800 metre sprint course on the Mercedes-Benz World circuit. This event will cater for everything from small sports cars to aero-engined specials.

The Driving Concours reaches its conclusion on the Sunday, when a huge variety of vehicles take part in the 2012 Test Hill Challenge. During the Challenge, the 352 ft Test Hill will be tackled by everything from Sinclair C5 electric cars and racing cyclists to giant pre-war racing cars, while there will also be a downhill class to test the brakes of prewar vehicles.

See you at both events I hope!

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