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First, let me wish a very Happy New Year to all our readers!

New Year’s Day seems an unlikely day for an outdoor classic car meeting in the UK. Unreliable winter weather, late night on New Year’s Eve and probable subsequently slightly sore head – these are circumstances not usually conducive to an early start and drive out in an old car to wherever.

And yet… all within an hour or so’s drive of my home, I had the option of attending NYD events at the Cotswold Motor Hub, Stony Stratford (which our own Dave Leadbetter will be reporting on), or the Brooklands Museum. This year I decided to head along to Weybridge and the Brooklands Museum for what is claimed to be the largest New Year’s Day classic car gathering in the UK. This was my fourth visit to their NYD Gathering, and Brooklands has been a regular destination for me in recent years. Along with Bicester Heritage, it’s probably the location that’s most redolent with the atmosphere of air travel and motoring – particularly motor racing – times gone by, with it’s old garages, aircraft hangars, racing car displays, bus museum, old aircraft parked around the site, and especially the section of the iconic banked track – dating back to 1907! – that has been preserved.

Over 1,000 classics, custom cars and supercars usually turn up on NYD at Brooklands. This year, thanks I’m sure in part to very mild weather, was no exception, and this undoubtedly encouraged many classic enthusiasts to unlock their garages and take the dust covers off their treasured cars and hit the salt-free roads towards Weybridge. Indeed, by the time I arrived at the gates in die Zitrone at approximately 8:45 in the morning, there were already lengthy queues. Joining the queue alongside me was a fabulous bright red 1965 short-nose Ferrari 275GTB… probably the most valuable car of the day, and it spent the day merely parked among much less valuable classics, without the armed security presence it would have had if it were mine…

On my way to parking up on the banking, my mobile rang and the dulcet tones of friend of ViaRETRO, possessor of unfeasible amounts of old car knowledge, all-round good guy and owner of the most luxuriant beard this side of ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Paul Hill proposed that we meet once I’d parked. A few minutes later, after parking alongside a very heavily modded BMW 2002, we began our wanderings around the site.

As usual, there was live music and catering throughout the day, a small autojumble, the Brooklands Museum buildings were all open, and by 10:00 the site was full of classics and classic car enthusiasts – in fact, cars were pouring through the gates in numbers for another hour after that; it was clearly going to be an excellent day!

One of the great things about the Brooklands NYD Gathering is the huge variety of cars that show up each year, and this year was no exception. Classics from the early years of the 20th century, through the between-world wars period and up to 1989 were spread across the atmospheric Brooklands site. There was also a section for later sports and supercars, though this area was of limited interest to us.

Following a brief chat with Paul Stewart, Marketing and PR Manager at the museum (who was going to have a busy day), I caught up again with Mr. Hill and resumed our stroll around the grounds to see what classic delights we could find – it wasn’t difficult.

What was difficult was where to start, such were the treasures spread around the site – some parked in the paddocks near the Clubhouse, some around the workshop sheds, others on the banking, and still more scattered among the aircraft. With such vast numbers, it’s hard to pick out particular favourites, but I will try. Paul and I were like kids, pointing out this classic, then that one, and oh just look at those! There were some one-marque club areas, but the majority of cars were parked in fairly random order hither and thither, and because new arrivals were streaming in for most of the morning, it paid to walk around at least a couple of times.

Having drooled over the 275 GTB, which a smart-phone check with the DVLA and further Google research confirmed to be genuine (modern technology can be useful even in our analogue classic car world!) and then at the other end of the classic car scale, looking at a diminutive Riley Elf which Paul had been interested in buying, we came across not one, but a pair of the most unusual cars either of us had seen; these were coachbuilt MGB Berlinette’s from the mid-1970’s. These lovely cars were built by the Belgian Jacques Coune, after discussion with Alec Issigonis, originally with a view to producing them in numbers at Abingdon. Apparently, the reason the design was not adopted by British Leyland for the MGB – the management had decided in favour of the in-house design so familiar to us today – was that it looked “too Italian”, ironic when you realise the approved design came from Pininfarina…

I’ve never seen one before, and personally, if all MGB’s had looked like these, I’d most definitely want one. Their most distinctive characteristic was the stylish kamm-tail, very reminiscent of that of the 275GTB Ferrari – take a look at the photos and tell me I’m wrong. Only 56 were built, of which a mere 12 survive, and two were at Brooklands, including the only RHD one built! They had clearly arrived together and were both seen to leave together later in the day.

Close by these two beautiful MGB’s (not a phrase I ever thought I’d write) was a brute of a De Tomaso Pantera, and a rare razor-edge Type-34 Karmann Ghia. This had been fully restored, and looked very smart, although it sported an interior with our beloved red piping

ViaRETRO’s two resident Reliant Scimitar fans were well served at Brooklands – a number of GTE’s and a GTC were at the event, with a particularly vivid yellow one the best – obviously.

Another British sportscar classic that both Paul and I loved was a red Bristol-engined AC Aceca, with its distinctive exhaust pipes. Close to that, another British favourite, a vivid yellow Ginetta G15, and a few yards away, one of my favourite Fiats, a Dino Coupé, albeit this example had an unnecessary yellow stripe across the bonnet.

We made a slight detour from the banked section of the track up to the top of the Test Hill, where the workshops of Brooklands Cars can be found. Specialising primarily, but far from exclusively, in the restoration of AC’s and AC Bristol’s, and open to visitors on the day, the workshop was full of spectacular cars. Among them were a convertible and, on stands, a coupé version of the superb AC 428, in my eyes one of the most successful and now very rare examples of the combination of English engineering, Italian design – in this case, by Frua – and V8 US muscle-power. Even amongst a dozen or more AC Ace’s, Cobra’s and Aceca’s, this pair stood out; I particularly love the coupé.

Back down the hill and walking through the paddock areas, more treats for the eyes everywhere you looked. Among the highlights in front of the Clubhouse was a lovely white 1939 Frazer-Nash BMW Type 321 and just a couple of cars away, a fabulous 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C adding a huge amount of glamour to the day, as did a wonderful 1964 Maserati 4000 Monza MB Special a few yards away. More Italian style was scattered around the site in the form of a handful of Lancia Fulvia Coupés, two very pretty Aurelia B20’s, and a delightful 1961 Flavia Berlina, with its fabulously eccentric switchgear. Lancia used to make such beautiful cars….

In the furthest corner of the site you could find gems such as a dark blue 1977 Lamborghini Uracco, a very unusual 1967 Mercedes Benz 220SE Fintail Estate, also in dark blue, and a striking orange Citroen GS Estate.

Parked among the aircraft was an even rarer version of the VW Karmann Ghia, a 1971 TC145. Designed by Giugiaro and built for the Brazilian market, some 18,000 were made. This one had, for me, been somewhat spoiled by having been lowered. Modified and custom cars were dotted all around the site – they’re not my thing, and while some were spectacular, I question the merits of doing this to such a rare car…

There was lots of Americana – an imposing 1964 Pontiac Parisienne (one of my favourite American cars, for its clean styling), an early jet black Ford Thunderbird, various Stingrays and a particularly eye-catching pair of duos parked underneath aircraft wings – a brilliant yellow (that colour again!) Mustang Mach 1 alongside a white 1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and a dark green 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner next to a white 1967 Chrysler Imperial. In the clubhouse area could be found another distinctive American pairing, this time of an orange Dodge Challenger R/T and metallic blue Chevrolet Camaro, but my favourite American car on the day was a properly patinated red and white 1966 Ford Falcon Estate.

More Americana could be found parked out near the BA Concorde; a mighty – and impossible to miss in lurid metallic green – 1961 7.1 litre Chrysler Imperial Land Yacht with tail fins almost as big as the aircraft’s, and just about beating those on a red 1958 Cadillac Coupe de Ville which sported possibly the most ostentatious rear bumper ever, which could easily double up as a bench for four. It carried the very appropriate number plate, BIG 58.

Between the paddock and the aircraft hangars was a gorgeous orange 1972 Opel GT 1.9 which has been in the Cornelius family since 1973, and a few yards away, a very rare sight – not one, not two, but three Porsche 914’s, all in green. One looked like the rare 914-6, but there was no further evidence to say it was one.

For fans of Japanese classics, there was much to enjoy. Besides the regular Datsun Z-cars and early MX-5s, a Toyota Celica 2000ST Liftback, a very rare 1st-generation Supra, and an ultimate period metallic brown 1979 Mitsubishi Colt Sapporo GS/R were to be found – Paul was particularly delighted with the rare Mitsubishi.

Other standouts included a superb 1965 Renault R8 Gordini, a very handsome lavender (?) Jaguar XJC, a superb red BMW 3.0CSL as well as a 2002 Turbo that looked to be the real thing, and no less than three Aston Martin DB2’s, including a deep blue 1956 DB2/4 MkII FHC, for which the owner was open to offers.

Most ridiculous car, among several entrants, was a coin toss between a Vauxhall Cresta ludicrously mounted on monster-truck type tyres, and an air-bagged “rat-look” Austin Allegro estate… both were wrong on so many levels, but ultimately the Allegro “won”.

Most memorable car of the day – well, on most days, it would be hard not to choose a Ferrari 275GTB, but this time, it was the two “mini-275GTB’s”, if you will, that stole the show for me – the stunning pair of MGB Berlinettes, enough to make even me want a B.

There was so much more, and I could go on picking out individual cars, but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves – editing them down to this selection was not an easy task! Enjoy!

 

15 Responses

  1. GTeglman

    @tony-wawryk, You have outdone yourself ! I have just spend my last Christmas
    vacation morning reading your fabulous NYD article, and what a delight ! Thank you so much for sharing.

    For a second I thought @claus-ebberfeld had polished his arms off getting his Reliant to shine like never before, but then I realized the folding sun-roof and the missing
    ViaRETRO (go faster) sticker on the yellow Scimitar ;-))).

    Amazing that the Orange GT had been in the same family since 1973.

    I have to agree that the MGB Berlinette’s are stunning. The RHD with head lamp
    covers are my favorite. BL management must have been bonkers, drunk or busy
    fighting the union when deciding for the in-house design instead…- never mind
    Pininfarina. (Needless to say I have a soft spot for Kamm tails).

    Cheers.

    Reply
  2. Paul Hill

    What a fantastic day with glorious weather. So many beautiful motor cars and Motorcycles to drool over. No Alfasud’s though but plenty of once common but now rare cars from the land of the rising sun. Thanks for a lovely day out Tony.

    Reply
  3. Dave Leadbetter

    Some great finds there, Tony. Good to see the Pontiac Parisienne turn up on these pages again, and the silver Celica 2000ST Liftback is a favourite of mine. I’ve always thought the first generation of Celicas, either Coupe or Liftback, made a better job of the American pony car genre than the Americans ever did themselves. I think being considerably more compact is the key to it so the proportions work far better, certainly better than the bloated Mustangs that Ford were churning out by the mid-70s. But I’d go as far to say that whilst a ’67 Mustang Fastback has a lot of presence, the Celica (which borrows heavily from its design) is better proportioned and more cohesive overall.

    The MGB Berlinettes are interesting, but I’m going to make an early pitch to be the odd one and say I prefer the MGB GT. I’m no great fan of the Sports-Sherpa but the GT doesn’t really have a bad angle on it, whereas the Berlinette is covered in them. Having a Kamm tail is all very well but there’s no detailing at all on the rear panel. With a square number plate and a GB badge there is something to distract the eye but with a rectangular plate there’s just an expanse of flat metal with little interest. The boot lid is too long which compresses the space available for the rear window, which in turn droops awkwardly at the trailing edges accentuating the issue of it being in the wrong place. With such a compromised rear screen the Hofmeister kink in the side window makes matters worse. Whereas the kink is a sharp and deliberate design detail it draws the eye to the fact that the rear screen is rounded and shapeless. You can’t mix sharp edges and curves in such close proximity. I think I’m right in saying the front wings are also unique but the sharp headlamp scoop is too aggressive for the rest of the car and adding the Perspex covers only makes it look like a cheap wannabe E-Type. I’m going to say the whole thing looks like a cheap lash-up and thank God BMC management weren’t drunk enough to adopt it.

    Reply
  4. Tony Wawryk

    @gteglman thank you so much for your kind words! I happen to agree that the MGB Berlinette with the faired-in headlamps is the nicer of the two – no matter what that fence-sitter @dave-leadbetter says ? ?.

    @paul-hill – ’twas a grand day out, many thanks for your company!

    Reply
  5. GTeglman

    @tony-wawryk, I guess that the esteemed sir @dave-leadbetter then dosn’t fancy the kamm tail on the Ferrari 275 shortnose either ? (flat metal with little interrest)…- well I wish it was mine !

    Cheers.

    Reply
  6. Anders Bilidt

    Whoooaar@tony-wawryk and @paul-hill, looks like you had a grand day out!
    The pictures capture a fabulous atmosphere at Brooklands, and there is just so much eye-candy to admire. I barely know where to begin…

    For obvious reasons, the BMW M535i E12 strikes a cord with me – but I’m of course biased. The little Stiletto appeals as does the gorgeous Gilbern 1800GT. The three green 914’s look stunning together, and I’ve always had a weakness for the quirky Panhards. I fully share Mr. Hill’s delight with the brown Sapporo, but among the Nippon steel, it’s the ultra rare first-generation Supra that really sweeps me off my feet! Moving significantly upmarket, it’s got to be the delicious AC Aceca which would be my ultimate choice if I could take one with me home…

    Oh, and then there’s the two MGB Berlinette. Hmmm… Whether Dave is on the fence or not, I think I’ll have to join him on this one. In fairness, I wouldn’t be quite as harsh towards this odd Belgian creation as Dave is. I do in fact find the ‘B’ Berlinette quite appealing, but that comes down to the oddness factor and not least rarity. It’s an interesting classic car for sure. However, it’s also an awkward and very unbalanced design, and in all honesty I find the common-as-muck and stock-standard MGB GT a much prettier and superior design in ever perceivable way! But each to their own of course… ;-)

    Reply
  7. Tony Wawryk

    @anders-bilidt perhaps my irony was too subtle – our friend @dave-leadbetter is most definitely not on the fence in the case of the Berlinette; au contraire, he’s made it very clear which side of it he’s on ?. I still really like it though, much preferred over a standard B. You’re both obviously wrong ??
    Thanks to a message from our resident US expert @yrhmblhst, I had another look through the photos, and the Falcon Estate is of course RHD, so almost certainly not American at all, but Australian. Sometimes there’s so much to take in at an event like this that the obvious is missed…and the Roadrunner is a ’69, not ’70, my error…again!

    Reply
  8. Dave Leadbetter

    I’m so far over my side of the fence, I can’t even see the fence anymore.

    But coming back to this article has given me the opportunity to gaze longingly at the Mercedes Fintail Estate. I missed it on my first read through. Probably still too offended by the Sherpa Berlinettes.

    Reply
  9. Yrhmblhst

    SO much cool stuff there…you guys really have it over us in the Colonies when it comes to variety at your get togethers. Plus, a car gig on new years day anywhere but southern California? It HAD to be below 60 degrees… lets me out.
    But even without all the great stuff, you had me with the lead shot ; 67 Impalas are one of my favourite things. Of course, any Impala is better than no Impala, but the 67 ranks as my personal fave right after the 61-2-3s, which are some of the coolest cars on the planet.
    Saw a couple of things that were new[s] to me also; that Brazilian Karmann Ghia is really neat; never seen one/even knew it existed. Must respectfully disagree with our esteemed correspondent tho – lowered with wheels surely improves the cars aesthetics imnsho.
    The MGBs were news to me too. Quite unusually for me, Im a bit ‘on the fence’ also, which seldom happens. I really like the front end treatment, not that wild about the back. Looks best with the covered headlamps methinks. BUT, the modified front wouldnt look right with a standard back…so I may just hafta go with the standard MGB GT as my pick. But if someone wanted to send me one of the modified cars so as to make it the only one on this side of the pond, I will gratefully take it and promise to care for it. :)
    I also wonder how MrBilidt can be SO wrong on japcrap yet still have the exquisite taste to pick the AC Aceca AND own a SAAB too?!? Even tho red is NOT the best colour for the AC coupe, I too would be mighty tempted to take that one home – even above the Ferrari – if given the keys to every car shown in a punch bowl.
    [or that blue Triumph Dolomite sprint – have a ‘thing ‘ for those yet have never even seen one in person. Have seen 68 el Caminos tho, and that yellow one shown would be a contender too, but probably take the AC in case anyone remembers that I have a birthday real soon…]
    One more bit of esoterica / pedanticism [is that a word?] if I may; the lovely 64 Pontiac shown. Lovely, clean lines and good colour. I like 64 Pontiacs. But…technically, being a ‘Parisienne’ , that isnt an American car. Its Canadian. And being a Canadian Pontiac from that era, it will have a Chevrolet driveline, as opposed to Pontiac motivation. Dont ask me why – I didnt make that decision – but in that period, Canadian Pontiacs were built on Chevrolet chassis and had Chevrolet engines. Had Pontiac sheetmetal and interiors, but good ol Chevy lumps. Poncho people cringe, but lets face it – the Chevrolet engine is a better engine, so its really not a net loss, but it is weird. Also, memory tells me that they literally used Chevrolet frames, which are VERY similar, but the Tin Indians didnt have quite as much ‘pinch’ in the front; remember the whole ‘Wide Track Pontiac’ thing? I think – and do NOT bet the farm on this w/o some more research – that if you sat the car pictured next to a 64 Catalina, you would see a difference when viewed straight on – the track of the US car is a couple of inches wider.
    [ a note on GM frames bitd; this is an oversimplification, but BASICALLY, there were two full size GM chassis – the ‘Chevrolet frame’ and the ‘Cadillac frame’. {there were differences between brands back then as God intended, but wheelbase and attachment points were similar} Anyway, ‘Chevrolet frames’ were under full size chevies, Pontiac Catalinas and Olds 88s. Oh, and buick lesabres/wildcats, but buicks dont count imnsho. Anyway, ‘Cadillac ‘ frames were under Caddies, Pontiac Bonnevilles and Olds 98s. A- body structure was basically shared across the divisions, the exception being the 63-5 buick Riviera, which is the only buick that DOES count.]
    Anyway, much cool stuff. Thanx for the post; to paraphrase Pink Floyd, ‘Wish I were there’.

    Reply
  10. Anders Bilidt

    @yrhmblhst, I’m with you all the way on that ’67 Impala. Such a fabulous design!
    I’m glad we also agree on the AC Aceca, where we happen to agree on the red colour too. It would probably be my least favourite colour for the Aceca, but I love the car so much that I certainly wouldn’t complain about a red one living in my garage. In the perfect world though, I would probably opt for navy blue with a very dark oxblood red interior.

    As for the Japs, well at least we won’t be fighting each other for one of those… ;-)

    Reply
  11. yrhmblhst

    ok, I give up – been trying to post photos of the most gorgeous Aceca Ive ever seen ; dark blue and absolutely perfect, with a black interior. cant seem to get em to attach. I am, basically, computer illiterate after all. oh well, you get the idea…

    Reply
  12. Claus Ebberfeld

    Sapporo! Brown! Vinyl roof!

    Quite possibly the most beautiful car Mitsubishi ever made. Not that that is saying too much, but anyway: I’d take a Sapporo coupé over a Celica anytime.

    Oh, and @dave-leadbetter is right regarding the Belgians: Let them stick to fries and hire Pininfarina if you want a great car design. For once BMC/BL went with the right decision.

    The concept of a classic car meeting on this particular date could possibly only work in Britain, I think.

    And @gteglman, please! MY Scimitar is not yellow, it’s “Aztec” – which is quite obviously something completely different as you will see below…

    Reply
  13. Anders Bilidt

    @claus-ebberfeld, please note that what you are probably thinking is merely a second-generation Celica Liftback, is in fact the super rare first-generation Supra. From the A-pillars and back it shared all sheet metal with the Celica, but the nose was significantly longer to accommodate the big straight-6 powerplant. To the best of my knowledge it was only sold on the Japanese domestic market and in the USA. What I wouldn’t give to have one of those in my garage…

    Reply

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