Each year Chipping Sodbury closes its High Street allowing two hundred vintage and classic cars and bikes to assemble before embarking on an 80 mile trip to a lunch venue elsewhere. Intrigued we bagged Great Escape’s cool as you like 1969 911T to have a go ourselves and boy was it fun.
To start with I hooked up someone I haven’t seen in nearly twenty years, Stuart Jenkinson, whose immaculate Austin Healey 100/4 had nearly taken him that long to complete. I knew he could weld, as-in cruise ships, and I knew he had started a basket case project, the result of which I don’t think anyone could have predicted, absolutely superb and I would judge now worth a tidy sum. Not that it’s for sale you understand, well not quite yet anyway.
Personal re-acquaintances aside and there were many re-visiting a town where both my wife and I grew up, this really was a pukka event catering for a wide range of vintage and classic cars. The fact participants go on such a lengthy jaunt, this year from South to North Gloucestershire and then back down again taking in both sides of the Severn valley, means it really is Classic Cars Driven.
Following the impressive high street send off, that included the Town’s Mayor no less, our 911T borrowed from Great Escape Classic Car Hire turned out to be the perfect companion enjoying much admiration and being absolutely sublime to pilot. Better still my wife Julia got right into her new navigational role and seemed to revel in telling her husband exactly what he should do at every stage of the journey, even down to sat-nav ‘esque repeats of junction calls; ‘bear left…bear left…’. I’m saying nothing further on the subject except we could be onto something here, the two of us in a classic car with me doing precisely what I’m told.
Included in the Final Instructions was the beautifully crafted directions to read once trip meters had been zero’d, and excellent they were to. The route chosen was very good; criss-crossing the county popping out occasionally at places you knew before disappearing back onto roads you didn’t. The halfway point was at Newent with tea or coffee and a slice of delicious cake available at just £2.50 from the local community school, where thankfully there were also loo’s available. It was great to see cars arriving and then disappearing off again at different times as refreshments were consumed and engines cooled on this sunny Sunday in June.
The trip back down through the Forest of Dean was a highlight, an area I thought I knew reasonably well, but then discovered after a few ‘bear left’ here and ‘turn right’ there instructions, I clearly didn’t. There were inclines, declines, tight bends, fast flowing corners and occasionally long straights to enable some Porsche powered overtakes. Breaking through the tree line every now and again en-route revealed some truly breath-taking views making you appreciate just how stunning the scenery is on your own doorstep if only you know where to look.
Adding a degree of authenticity, not to mention comedy at times, was the period dress worn by some participants. This was clearly taken more seriously by some than others, ranging from correctly matched attire for the corresponding vehicle to outfits of the swinging 60’s that were simply outrageous. The net effect was terrific and provided a nice touch to the event all day long, even if you stopped gawking at the cars, you never ceased smiling at some of the costumes, simply wonderful.
How does this event make you feel?
In one word: Enlightened
As a favourite meal: Cold buffet on a hot day cannot be beaten and was truly excellent in this case.
Anything Else: Classic Cars being driven on some stunning Gloucestershire roads.
Key Ingredients: Closing Chipping Sodbury High Street to park 200 classic and vintage cars and bikes, being sent off by the Town Mayor, excellent route and instructions with superb buffet lunch at the end.
With thanks to Great Escape Classic Car Hire and Chipping Sodbury Rotary Club with a special thanks to Mr Mark Benstock for all his help and patience throughout
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