We collect Great Escape Classic Car Hire’s Capri 280 ‘Brooklands’ from their Redditch base and drive south back home to first rekindle our love affair with this classic 80s Ford before discovering new roads and views all within thirty miles of where we live on the 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic.
A quick look at a sneaky peek preview of the route a few weeks before seemed to suggest to both myself and Wife Julia that she would be driving to work and on a Sunday. Still if the previous two years were anything to go by it was unlikely the 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic would disappoint, it didn’t.
Beginning as always in a closed off Chipping Sodbury high street the omens weren’t great when the heavens opened and the rain set in. This year’s run was going to start for anyone without a roof by being wet. Still as is the way with the warmth and enthusiasm of classic car lovers it didn’t dampen the atmosphere or smiles one little bit at the 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic.
Even Ady Taylor and Dave Greenslade in the semi-closed and immaculately prepared Bond Bug weren’t put off by the large puddles forming on both seats as rain poured in due in no small part to the complete absence of any side screens. Also, after a dry towel had been applied Dave commented as a passenger how impressed he was with the stability of this iconic three-wheeler. Discussion throughout the day put this down to how both occupants sit so close to the live back axle providing stability akin to being sat on a park bench with your legs stretched forwards. Of course the fear of falling out whilst going round corners never diminished.
The mix of the full 225 entry was as always eclectic, something that couldn’t have been better illustrated with a Ferrari F40 parked in the high street right next to the far more humble Fiat X1/9, both with F40 registration plates. Now for the latter that is true ambition sat right there. Elsewhere at the 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic you could find in and amongst more usual; MGBs, MG Midgets and Triumph TRs cars like Alfa Romeo’s original Duetto Spider, Sunbeam Tiger, Alvis and Citreon DS.
Great also to see more modern classics from the 80s, including the Capri 280 Brooklands we arrived in and the Audi UR Quattro Jeff Benstock brought along to the 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic. Both cars hired from Great Escape Classic Car Hire. It’s not a bad call either and doesn’t feel at all fraudulent. Arrive and drive and at the same time enjoy and join in, it was great fun. If anyone asked we just came clean and explained how we’d hired the cars for the event, there was absolutely no shame in it and certainly no need to pretend we owned them.
As is the way of this very well organised event it is simply a case of arrive on time, sign-on and then queue at the start once called. When you are there are a few words spoken about your car, a quick hello from the local mayor, photograph and go. After zeroing your trip meter you then follow the step by step instructions which guide you through the next 40 miles to the half way point, quite brilliant.
We live locally and yet never knew of the existence of half the roads we drove down on the first leg. Now truth told some were so narrow you wouldn’t necessarily chose to drive them again, well not regularly anyway. Although the Capri’s relatively slender track never caused us a problem and all provided a terrific insight into how our neighbourhood is stitched together if ever needed in the future.
After seeing Wickwar, Kingswood, Hillesley, Hawkesbury, Sherston, Malmesbury and the Cotswold Water Park the mid-way stop at Cirencester provided a welcome loo, tea, coffee and cake opportunity as well as a chance to discover what life in a Bond Bug was like and how much everyone seemed to be enjoying the 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic. It also set us up nicely for the second leg.
Even if we did have local knowledge of the first part of the route we knew nothing of this half to discover fast flowing driving roads uphill and down dale. They were at times just fantastic, especially when we broke free of the inevitable convoy of classics interspersed with other road users, providing a great opportunity to explore our Capri for the day whilst of course never forgetting the absence of any driver aids in the still damp at times conditions. Chedworth, Cowley, the Slad valley and Avening were all enjoyed as well as being extremely picturesque.
With the route largely completed we were back in familiar territory again driving through Tetbury before finishing at Westonbirt School to be greeted by a brass band no less and delicious lunch. Queuing with plate in hand was a like a well-oiled machine as you made your way down the line with outstretched hand to each of the salad, meat and cheese stations where a cheerful Rotary Club volunteer added to your growing pile of deliciously prepared food, perfect. As a bonus returning your plate afterwards also rewarded you with an ice cream and so needless to say all tables were dutifully left clear for the next arrivals to sit down and tuck in.
The 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic lifted spirits, despite a wet start to the day, by offering an excellent 80mile driving route, tea, coffee and cake stop, lunch, fine selection of cars, great company and ever so friendly Rotary Club organisers, quite superb.
How does this event make you feel?
In one word: Humble.
As a favourite meal: Rotary Club ham salad with ice cream to follow (as long as you return your plate of course) was quite superb.
Anything else: It is so well organised that you wonder how future generations will cope on their own.
Key ingredients: The fact it is a driving event, closed off high street start, organisation, tea, coffee, cake and lunch stops. The 2015 Chipping Sodbury Classic was without doubt the real deal.
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