Sunday Scramble, Bicester – Jan 2020
Whilst on an, unexpected, flying visit to the UK over the New Year, we came across a car show described as a “Sunday Scramble”. Located in Bicester, Oxfordshire, it was not far from where we were staying with my brother (he too is a petrol head!) so we just had to go and have a look see.
Anyway, this event was billed as the first of many ”Sunday Scrambles” for the year and was described as an opportunity for car enthusiasts to, quote; “shake off the post Christmas and New Year’s inertia and take their prized vintage, classic or modern classic vehicles out for a bracing blast to Bicester Herritage”, advertising that there would be thousands of cars, which indeed there were!
Founded in 2013 the Bicester Heritage Centre is based on a 420 acre former WW2 RAF Bomber Training Station and now houses over 40 specialist businesses. It is still growing and turns over some £40m ($80m) per annum, making it a major player in the collectable car industry. Promoting too the education and training of the mechanics in vintage and classic vehicles.
This former RAF site, whilst undoubtedly of national historic importance, was unfortunately neglected for the best part of 40 years before being added to Historic England’s ‘At Risk Register’ in 2008 and was designated the most ‘at risk’ of all the Defence Estates in the UK. However, since Bicester Heritage’s tenure, over 90% of the buildings have been delicately restored or re-activated for modern business use with even the paint colours being correct to 1930s British Standards. An active airfield and test track complete its current operation.
To complement this heritage, on the day there was a display by the Oxfordshire Home Guard. This group aim to keep alive the memory of the WW2 Home Guard, researching stories and people, plus of course preserving the weapons and memorabilia. They were not however impressed at being associated with “Dad’s Army” for some strange reason.
Anyway back to the cars…
MG naturally had a good display, with several clubs present including the Young Members Chapter. This was good to see. It was a chat with one of the MG owner’s that gave us an insight into the Centre and its promotion of all things collectable car related. We then later toured some workshops and spoke to a couple of the instructors working on the old cars.
As for other cars, there were literally dozens of Astons present, even more Porsches, plus “C” & “D” type Jags the SS and of course many E-types. There was a wonderful Blower Bentley which the owner started up; and a magnificent Gordon Keeble Coupe, being one of only 99 cars ever made by the Company in the 60’s. Amongst the modern classics were a Noble, several McLaren, plus of course Ferraris. Most of the cars were in fact European, but a few Yanks slipped in!
Many cars were stored in hangers and one huge one was chock-a-block with classics under dust covers, so unfortunately there was no chance in seeing these collectables.
So, all up a great day, and it would be worth looking out for one of these “Scrambles” if you are in the UK.
For more information on the Bicester Heritage Centre, go to…
By: Steve Spong & Barb Harrington