Weirdly, we didn’t get to a huge amount of car shows this year – but there were some good ones! The Flywheel Festival at Bicester Heritage is a good show for those interested in more than just classic cars. It’s more of an ‘Eagle Comic’ event, with classic cars, bikes, racing cars, old planes flying in and out, and even tank rides in the military vehicles area. I went there with my son and one of his friends, and we had a great time in an old-fashioned way, all ice cream and sunburn. We saw some awesome things, and the best bit is that it’s not static – there’s loads of sound, flames and racing around around a tight sprint course. Some of the highlights were…
ERAs are 1930s cool, in a bolt-upright, bloody-mindedly English way. While the Italians were building ravishing, laid-back racing cars and the Germans were pushing back the boundaries of speed, power and building well-organised racing teams, English Racing Automobiles applied what Stirling Moss later called “the Clever Professor approach.”
So, in engineering terms these cars have clever engines, brilliant gearboxes and a unique approach. What they don’t have is common sense, reliability, or an integrated design style that goes beyond being comfy for the driver, and intimidating to anyone seeing it in their mirrors. Balanced against this is the fact that most of them are still racing today, now that the bugs have been ironed out and everyone’s realised how successful they should have been.
They are also very exciting to watch, with screaming, supercharged engines running on alcohol, and drivers who know that they can be thrown around with abandon after decades of practice. Recommended!
The GN Spider is a 1920s hillclimb special, with a V-twin engine and a tiny body, not much in the way of braking and a long list of speed records. It’s terrifying and very leaky, and has a steering wheel from an old bomber… It’s road legal too.
This odd looking bike is actually a modern build, very much in the hipster board-racer style, but it has a unique twist. It’s got a tiny radial engine hung in the frame.
Sitting on it doesn’t look too comfy though.
This is another oddity – a race car built from a Bentley T1 / Rolls Royce Silver Shadow prototype by one of the engineers on the original programme (or so I remember from the commentary, might not be accurate!). So it’s a luxury racer! Looked good static and moving, long and wide.
And I couldn’t not mention the Lola T70. One of my faves, plus it was awesome seeing the driver trying to get all that power down on a small track. Loud and dramatically sideways at times. Lovely.