Bicester Heritage was awash with military vehicles, classic cars, historical aircraft and motorcycles over the weekend for the Flywheel show. Here are our favourite bits
Oxfordshire's quaint countryside echoed to the sound of engine holler and exhaust burble over the weekend. The culprit? A magnificent collection of classic road-going classics, competition cars, motorcycles, vintage aircraft and military heavyweights within the compounds of ex-RAF base Bicester Heritage.
Coming together in their droves for The Classic & Sports Car Show in association with Flywheel, the good weather found thousands of attendees descend through the entrance gates seeking automotive satisfaction during the two-day event.
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Special guests included Le Mans legend Derek Bell MBE, Car SOS presenter and TV celebrity Fuzz Townshend and seven World War Two veterans to honour the centenary of the RAF and end of the First World War.
A diverse range of machines took to the event’s demonstration track, highlighting the huge variety of cars on display. Fuzz Townshend grappled with the insane power churned out by the 10,000cc 1914 aero-engined Fafnir Hall-Scott Special, and hearts missed a beat when the 1957 AC Aceca Bristol appeared on track.
Meanwhile, in amongst the tree-lined avenues and historic buildings of Bicester Heritage’s Technical Site – the UK’s best-preserved WW2 bomber station – a specially-curated plethora of classic cars gathered for the inaugural Flywheel Concours.
Six categories of cars were present, all pre-1976; reflecting the year in which RAF Bicester ceased functioning as an airbase.
The judging panel consisted of AutoClassics contributor Richard Dredge, motoring journalists Steve Cropley and Giles Chapman, car designer and former head of design at Morgan Matthew Humphries, along with classic concours specialists Tim Sawyer and Peter Jennings. Awards were given for:
- Dawn of the supercar, in association with JBR Capital: 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV, entered by Niall Holden and previously owned by rock singer Rod Stewart
- Movie star cars: 1974 AMC Hornet Coupe (The Man with the Golden Gun), entered by Nigel Jeffery
- 50 years of British Leyland: 1976 Triumph TR7, entered by Charles Porter
- Classic & Historic Rally Cars: 1962 Triumph TR4, entered by Gareth Firth
- The Class of 1948: 1951 Jaguar XK120 Roadster, entered by Christian Baker
- Best in Show: 1962 Jaguar E-Type Coupe, entered by Lee & Denise Choat, which was driven by Sean Connery in 1964 British film Woman of Straw, and was awarded ‘Best in Show’ for its degree of originality
A further new feature of the event was the ‘People’s Concours’. Voted for by showgoers and visitors to the show’s website, Dale Scutter scooped the award for the first day of the Show with his 1960 Hillman Minx Series 3A, while James Howell took Sunday’s prize with his 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. With votes tallied, Dale’s Minx claimed enough votes to be awarded the David Evans Trophy, named in honour of the revered Classic & Sports Car clubs’ liaison, who we sadly lost earlier this year.
As well as the on-track action and concours perfection, visitors to Flywheel got a behind-the-scenes look at the businesses that operate within Bicester Heritage, including: vehicle storage specialist Historit; Porsche experts Sports Purpose; paint restorers Auto Wax Works, and historic car sales companies Pendine and Robert Glover Ltd, which also helms charity operation Starter Motor.
It wasn’t all about cars, however. A host of vintage aircraft took to the skies, including the bright red Pitts Special aerobatic biplane of former British Female Aerobatic Champion Lauren Richardson. Besides some tense aerobatic demonstrations and Tiger Moth flights over the showgrounds, the show also paid special tributes to the RAF in their centenary year, alongside the end of the First World War.
Air displays came courtesy of the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Dakota, the Bremont Great War Display Team and the BBMF Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster. There were also recreations of a WW1 ‘dogfight’ with Sopwith and Fokker Dr1 triplanes – although thankfully all aircraft returned unharmed…
During the weekend, seven World War II veterans visited the show, including 97-year-old Wing Commander John Francis Durham ‘Tim’ Elkington, one of the few surviving Royal Air Force fighter pilots who flew during the Battle of Britain. John joined No. 1 Squadron RAF at RAF Northolt in 1941, from where he flew Hawker Hurricanes during what Winston Churchill called 'their finest hour'.
Alastair Clements, Classic & Sports Car magazine’s editor in chief, said: 'The response to this year’s show has been phenomenal. Flywheel has established itself as a must-attend event in the past three years, but as our first year as The Classic & Sports Car Show in association with Flywheel this has been taken to a new level in a way that seems entirely appropriate.'
'It’s not just a car show and not just an air show; there’s a bit of something for everyone. There are lots of families here enjoying themselves and we’re really glad that the Show has preserved the very special and relaxed atmosphere it’s had in the past while combining more of the fantastic machinery and classic cars that visitors want to see up close.'
Next years’ event has been confirmed to take place on 22-23 June 2019. You can find out more here.