NORMALLY if a car was running at boiling point and completely out of puff at 23mph, I’d pour it a cup of Lemsip and tell it to take the day off.
Not only that, but the two-seater I was in last weekend had no working indicators, no seatbelts and shuddered so abruptly that you could actually see its windscreen frame shaking in its mountings every time it juddered to a halt. Yet I didn’t mind a bit of it, because during the parades at Southport’s Classic and Speed it was the star of the show.
This new event – think of it as MotorFest-on-Sea, because it’s courtesy of the same chaps who came up with a certain event in Ormskirk – had a particularly good showing of pre-war cars, but the 1899 Hurtu that I hitched a ride in for the evening parades was easily the oldest of the lot. One of France’s earliest motoring endeavours, it’s equipped with a single-cylinder Benz engine that’s good for three-and-a-bit horsepower, channelled through just two gears (and that doesn’t include reverse, so you get out and push it).
According to custodian, Bernard Williamson, it’s supposed to run at boiling point – which means that you’ll normally eke 25 miles out of it before it needs to pull over for a breather, but with the cool October air last weekend it easily managed a few laps of Lord Street and the Promenade.
This veteran car’s easygoing pace meant that we inevitably ended up chatting to quite a few of you, watching the parades from the pavements – and the overwhelming verdict was that you absolutely loved it, although a couple of you wish that Lord Street had been closed off altogether for the demonstration runs. You’d like to see Classic and Speed make a comeback next year – and the good news is that it almost certainly will, because Aintree Circuit Club’s already working on plans to bring it back, albeit slightly earlier in September.
Just about the only change I would have made would be to make the parades earlier in the afternoon, so that more of the public could see these wonderful old cars in action, but otherwise I reckon this inaugural event was a hit. The free-to-attend format and the sheer variety of classics on display, with more than 200 cars going on show, made it a winner with everyone that I spoke to, and for me the thing that elevated it above Ormskirk’s MotorFest was its brilliant display of veteran and vintage cars, right by the front gate. The event’s official Car of the Show winner, a 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, was one of those cars that stopped you in your tracks.
Fingers crossed that Classic and Speed does make a comeback next year. If it does, I’d suggest that the Hurtu sets off for it nice and early…
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly