So Close, but yet so far - the ones that got away.
April 30, 2021
‘My eyes adored you, but I never laid a hand on you…’ went the words of the Frankie Valli easy-listening trans-Atlantic monster hit of early 1975 and that was how I felt on seeing some of the amazing cars that I had coveted for weeks, being snapped up by eager new owners at the inaugural auction at Manor Park Classics, on 27th April 2021.
In actuality, I’d had a go behind the wheels of quite a few of the cars, which had led to strong longings for new metal in my collection, but a recent house purchase and associated renovation works precluded any hopes that I had of exercising my bidding arm. But for me, there were some real stand-out cars amongst a very strong field at the April sale and so I shall write about them here in an attempt to exorcise them from my troubled mind.
The first was Gordon Birtwhistle’s astounding Triumph 2500Pi. When I got behind the wheel of this a few short weeks ago, yes I had expected a well sorted classic saloon, but not the absolute rocket he had created. The 1973 car was in a lovely, slightly mellowed condition, but it was bloody quick and really well sorted, applying its power evenly and magnificently while holding the road with a tenacity belying its advancing age.
Next, there was the lovely little Austin Seven fabric-bodied saloon. The exterior was gorgeous, but it was the interior of the car that appealed to me, trimmed as it was in similar fashion to a set of fireside chairs, this was a car which would beguile even the most anti-car of folks.
I have three children under six years of age and finding a classic into which the whole family would fit is tricky, but the low mileage, 1957 Bentley S1 which evaded my purchase at the sale would have met the challenge admirably, although would it have been fair to subject its beautifully patinated interior to the indifferent sticky hands of youth? Perhaps not. In any case, I’d have had to have sold my Jensen 541R before having been able to meet the £32k ticket. Alas, the Jensen won’t accommodate the children but, as somebody said to me this week, why would one want to fill such a car with kids anyway?
That’s a fair point!
The splendid 1935 Rolls Royce 20/25, unsold at the sale, would certainly have accommodated a large family in its wonderfully aged interior, but it was its beautifully shaped bodywork, resplendent in slightly gaudy white livery which appealed to me. I would have allowed a few mud spatters to linger on that paint, thus lending it a slightly ‘punk rock’ air. Anarchy is alive and kicking in the UK, currently residing the south Leicestershire countryside and aged 56 years old.
However, the car from the sale which I truly wish was sitting outside my house right now was the 1929 Vauxhall 20/60 tourer. What a car; yes the paintwork was a little cracked and flaking here and there, but it wore its age with consummate grace. Its seats looked to me to have been upholstered at some point in recent decades, but I’d have made sure that my spreading posterior and bony elbows assisted in adding patination with plenty of use of the fine machine, given that it had enjoyed much mechanical love in recent times.
Having driven it, I know that it would have bowled along happily mile after mile, taking the family on fine holidays, with the accoutrements of such life spilling out from various racks and apertures, although I couldn’t help in my mind’s eye seeing children climbing up and out of the car in a disastrous fashion, in the same way that I see the folly of taking little ones on a canal boat holiday.
Indeed, there were some very fine cars at the sale, but there will be more at the next, on 6th July. In fact, one of my all-time favourite types has just arrived at Manor Park in readiness for this. I’d better start working harder!
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