From Pandas and Porsches to MGs and Maseratis! The Bewdley CCC Aug Meet

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    For our latest meeting up at Wharton Park I was joined by a couple of new members; father and son combo of Bren and Ade. They met me at my place in their cars and we headed over to the meet in convoy. Bren was in his 2004 MG TF whilst his son was at the wheel of a lovely 1958 Wolseley 15/50, finished in a vibrant red…a most unusual colour for this model as most of them seem to be painted black. Recent meets at Wharton park have seen our members cars spread a little around the car park, so this time I resolved to get us all together in one impressive line. So I donned the 'magic' jacket – yes that mystical giver of organisational powers: the High-Viz! Thus armed I made short work of bullying any new arrivals and soon had our cars lined up directly outside the clubhouse!

    I was pleased to see a MG TF, a much underrated car and one that sold well before the demise of MGR 2005, well in excess of 100,000 over a ten year production if you include the earlier F too. Think about it; a pretty, affordable, quick and MID-ENGINED sports car. Perhaps it should get more recognition than it does. Bren keeps his example immaculately and it was one from the final model year, which can easily be spotted as the hood has a glass and heated window as a opposed to a plastic one in the earlier cars.

    Bren's lad Ade rolled majestically up in the '58 Wolseley which is actually a family heirloom having being passed from his late father in law a few years ago. Again beautifully presented , it's 1500cc B series engine ensured that progress is dignified rather than hurried despite breathing through twin SUs! Crucially for a Wolseley the grille badge lights up! These were once popular with the plod (watch any 1950's crime movie…), but they tended to be the larger models with a six cylinder C series engine, that tackled corners in flurry of understeer that a cruise liner would be proud of!
    We had quite a few new people come along today too, such as Phil in lovely Austin 1100, a member of the diverse and long lived ADO16 family of cars produced on a least three continents from 1962 until 1974. Sold as Austin. Morris, MG, Wolsely, Riley, Vanden Plas and Authis to name just the ones I can think of. It was also the basis of the interesting Aussie designed and built Nomad, that had a E series engine, a hatchback and 5 speed box…a sort of mini Maxi! His 1100 is in great nick and keeps an A30 company at home amongst other things.
    It was also good to see some of our regulars returning too, Keith in his Minor pick-up complete with a spare engine in the back – a twin engined Moggie; now there's a project for somebody!  Gary and Jude not only brought their '74 stag this time, but their cute little Panda 4×4 'Sisley' limited edition. Amusingly, Lee another of our regulars also rocked up in a Panda, a right old pair. He also maintained his proud record of turning up in a different car every time! The Panda was actually a very clever piece of design by Italdesign house head Giugiaro, whose credits include some pretty exotic cars. It has flat body panels and glass and an ultra basic interior, simple suspension etc. To quote the great man himself:

    “The Panda is like a pair of jeans, that simple, practical, no frills piece of clothing. I tried to bring into this car the spirit of military machinery, especially helicopters, that means light, rational, built-for-purpose vehicles”. 

    They sold bucket loads especially in their native Italy for nearly 25 years right up to 2004. They are still a common sight there, but when did you last see one in the UK? Also returning was Richard in his Mini and Blair Hobson in his P6 Rover 2200SC. The P6 was a car that was designed originally to be powered a gas-turbine engine! The prototype still resides in the museum at Gaydon and is well worth checking out. 

    At the other extreme of the Italian car spectrum we had our first Maserati at a meet. Thanks to Mike Poulter and his rather stylish 3200GTA. Pushed along by a rather potent twin turbo V8 with a rather delicious howl, to match those to die for looks. This was an early example with the 'Boomerang' rear lights…my favourite! It also brings back happy memories of when had I some involvement in the development of the earlier Maserati Biturbo, a real treat to drive for a impressionable 19 year old apprentice back in the day.

    We had another first in the form of a '89 Porsche 944 2.7 Lux, a variant only available for one model year. It's owner Matt was uncomfortable when asked about restoration costs in front of his partner! We have not had a Porsche along  before so it great to see. However a bit like buses, no sooner did we have one Porsche than we suddenly had two…a 911 Carrera 4 Tiptronic. I think this is the first of the water-cooled 911s in a bloodline that runs back into the 1960s and continues right to this day. Steve McQueen had a 911, that kind of sums it up…copper bottomed cool! Again it brought back memories for me, this time of punting a friend's 911 turbo that had been tweaked to put out nearly 600bhp. It was 'nippy'. I will leave it at that!

    Also in the German corner was another returning member, Denise in her vibrant red Scirrocco. This time her partner Gary wasn't riding shotgun but had brought his superb Toyota Supra along. The last generation of real Supra, the new model is essentially a BMW. Now nearly 30 years old but still magnificent and super quick. It was good to see an example that was essentially near stock…'The Fast and the Furious' has much to answer for…

    The Minis were thin on the ground this time, I expect that they were at the big Mini 60 event at Gaydon today, but joining Richard's late model was the perfectly turned out Riley Elf of Kevin Taylor. He has been to a previous meeting at the Duke William, but this was my first chance to speak to him and have a proper look. Again an interesting car, a Mini made 'posh' with an imposing grille and even little fins and a boot. The body panels were pressed at the plant that is now home to Jaguar cars and once produced the mighty Spitfire in WW2. While final assembly was undertaken at Longbridge, once 'The Austin' but also a builder of aircraft in WW2, notably the Battle and the Lancaster. So much history in such a little car. I am saddened note that the Chinese owners of the once proud works, SIAC are now running down operations there, meaning it is ever more important to keep the cars that represent our history alive for future generations

    I was also pleased to see more people come along just to see the cars and give us some support even if they were in 'moderns'. My former colleagues Sean and Debbie enjoyed themselves and their AMG Merc drew admiring glances. Another gentleman rolled in serenely in a brand new electrically propelled Jaguar I-Pace…World car of the Year no less. These are the kind of cars that will be gathering for meets in 20 years times I have no doubt.
    The atmosphere was convivial and it was great to see people mixing easily and chatting around the cars.  The golf club were amiable hosts and I enjoyed a drink on the terrace overlooking the greens as did many others from our little club. Many members of the golf club took time out to admire the cars too, and I suspect some of them may have some interesting machines they could bring along to one of our meetings.

    We really do need to get a run out organised so we can enjoy our cars where they should be, on the road, so watch this space for news on that. In the meantime a big thank you to everybody who came along and made for such a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

    I hope to see you all again soon! 

    Next meeting Sunday September 1st, 3pm at Wharton Park

    The Bewdley and Wyre Forest Classic Car Club on Facebook:

    Wharton Park Golf and Country Club

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