Dep-O Magazine

Castle Combe Classic & Retro Action Day 2014

Plan A had involved attending the Castle Combe Classic & Retro Day in a brace of transaxle Alfas – but the weather put paid to that idea. Heavy downpours, hail and Wiltshire mud instead meant that the Alfetta and Les Dufty’s SZ would stay garaged.

So we reverted to Plan B, which would instead see the rare three-door parked next to a 1750 Spider and not looking out of place one iota…

Luckily, the meteorological shenanigans – and a clash with Goodwood’s Festival of Speed – didn’t put everyone off. Perhaps surprisingly there was a good turn out of old machinery from mopeds to buses with all sorts in between. Including plenty for the experienced motoring anorak to get his cagoule into a twist…

The Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum had its annual prize draw to win a Riley Elf, but I was far too distracted by their 9X Gearless Mini exhibit – the car which should have replaced the Mini in the early Seventies. Resembling a Mini-gone wrong, this prototype of Issigonis’s most advanced model featured MacPherson struts at the front, a beam axle behind and did without subframes. Similar to the one in the Haynes International Motor Museum, the engine in the Atwell-Wilson car (acquired from Gaydon) is believed to be the longer stroke 1000cc for it sits higher in the engine bay than the Sparkford car. (The 9X’s engine – DX – was a modular OHC unit which followed similar Issigonis practice to the E-series – ie for larger capacities it was either stroked or available with two extra cylinders.)

Secondly, amid a fantastic display of Warwick’s finest, was a Healey Duncan Drone – Donald Healey’s 1947 attempt at building an affordable sports car when materials were scarce. You can perhaps guess for yourself why this model wasn’t particularly successful…

Castle Combe Classic & Retro Action Day 2014

Finally, we also stumbled across another resurrected classic in the form of the Lotus Six by a company called The Classic Era, which is building bespoke replicas of the Chapman’s great clubman racer for people to race without worrying about the cost and repercussions of punting a treasured classic into the scenery. A choice of engines – Ford, Coventry Climax and BMC A-series – plus suspension specs are available.

In terms of track action, when we were present – we arrived just before 1pm – it was certainly rather quiet in relation to previous years. Although the weather was fine during our three-hour visit, the morning’s hysterics were more than enough to put off most committed track-dayers because the Combe can certainly bite in the wet. Actually, come to think of it, one Dolly owner found out that the dry can be pretty lethal too if you take liberties with the Esses…

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