Event // Kicking off 2020 at Sunday Scramble
Words and photography by Andrew Coles
Bicester Heritage kicked off the 2020 event season in style with the first Sunday Scramble of the year, held under threateningly cloudy but mostly dry skies on January 5th.
Much like the renovated World War Two-era classic car business park itself, Sunday Scramble has gone from strength to strength over the past years, and the summer Scrambles are full-on events that usually sell out weeks in advance. But the January Scramble always has something special about it. The cold and the likelihood of rain tends to weed away the fair-weather friends, leaving just a core of enthusiasts who are not bothered by trivialities like weather.
2020 is going to be a positively huge year for us at Sports Car Safari and we had to get it off on the right foot, so we borrowed a 1975 Aston Martin AMV8 from our friends at Quest Brothers Classic Cars for the journey up. What a machine! More on it later, but slicing through the January darkness and frozen winter in a big, old, hairy-chested slice of British beef was a bloody ideal way for us to kick the year off on the best possible terms.
We always salute the Caterham drivers, because any car that forces you to wear a motorcycle rain suit and helmet to drive it is clearly not suited to winter, but they do it anyway. A filthy Exige here, a mud-splattered Blower Bentley there. Motorcycle riders thawing their frozen hands with a cup of coffee, or a traffic marshal doing the same on the exposed engine of a Morgan three-wheeler that had just arrived.
Porsche specialists Sports Purpose again took centre stage with a genuine 550 Spyder and a 959, both grime-covered from a wet drive up. Vintage hot-rodders gave a damn good argument for their cause with a large selection of sixties muscle, and a pair of rally-prepared Ferrari 308 GTBs in bold primary colours made us wonder if it was even possible for a rally car to look any better.
Owing to its nature, Bicester Heritage has a habit of hiding cars in the various nooks and crannies of the heritage technical site, giving you an automotive treasure hunt and corresponding shot of adrenaline when you find something incredible. A Group B Peugeot 205 T16 hiding in a car park, or an otherwise subtle-looking Mini harbouring a Lotus twin-cam in its engine bay. The iconic Ferrari F40 stopped next to a Triumph GT6, and Aston Martin Works with the DBX Prototype, still in camouflage ahead of its complete launch. There’s rarely a more diverse, high quality, aesthetic assortment of cars than at a Scramble event.
Our friends at the Wriggly Monkey Brewery had something rather special out the front – a 1938 Frazer Nash TT Rep with a rare Frazer Nash BMW engine and… a wriggly monkey. It’s a component of the chain drive system in a ‘Chain Gang Nash’ which protects against gear change dramas by stopping multiple gears being selected at the same time. In the words of owner Luke Roberts, “it’s important because they’ll flip if you get two, or three, gears at once…”
Holy shit, has that ever happened?
“… well, not to me personally but I’ve seen it happen…”
2020 will be an exciting year for Bicester Heritage as they expand and activate the Bicester Motion plan, securing its place as a global centre for automotive heritage in the decades to come. But in the short term, the season’s Scrambles look to be as exciting as ever, and we’ll be back for the April Scramble on the 26th.