Stony Stratford

New Year’s day Classic car meets are the perfect cure for the hangover – perhaps it’s the mixture of fresh air, sharing sorry tales of redemption and the promise of the hair of the dog. Obviously, it goes without saying that drinking large amounts of alcohol should be avoided before embarking on a drive the next morning but there was plenty of evidence that some of the spectators as well as a handful of passengers didn’t get that memo.

Stony Stratford is a picturesque town near Milton Keynes which holds a Classic car show in June of every year, known as the ‘Classic Stony’. The organisers close off the main high street, car parks and market square to display hundreds of classic cars and bikes. As a bonus, this generous exercise is repeated every New Years Day and attracts something in the region of 500 vehicles covering a hundred-year-old span.

Your roving reporter had an early night on New Year’s Eve, mostly to sleep through the combined offering of fireworks and Jools Hollands boogie-woogie Hogmanay. That insight has allowed a reasonably early start the next day to attend this highly recommended event. Luckily, the near-empty road conditions and the relatively mild weather proved to be an additional bonus.

Events like these rely on the willingness of owners to attend, with their sheer dedication, effort and enthusiasm to participate. This well-known event attracts owners from a wide radius, with the promise of a blast through the countryside and a chance to meet up with friends. For the lucky crowds, it’s an opportunity to experience the spectacle of the town centre full of classic cars and to offer a very welcome start to the New Year. Car and Classic were there for the morning and offer you an edited highlight of the event.

There were many contrasts in cars including this Aston Matin designed, BL-based Hustler 4. Originally offered as a kit car in the late ‘70s, you could even use two mini subframes to create a 6 wheeled version. Around 500 were produced. In contrast to the upright Hustle, this brutal Koenig Jaguar also offered a blast of styling individuality. Koenig specialised in modifying top-end sports cars, and during the 80’s symbolised both excess and respect.

A selection of some nicely authentically original Ford Commercials vehicles. Due to their hard-working lives and cost-cutting minimal rust protection, few have survived. The amount of hard work that owners pour into them without significant financial gain sums up the passion and dedication of commercial vehicle restoration. The 1960 Ford Thames 100E has survived thanks to the low number of owners who kept the van for long periods without excessive use. The 1985 Ford Transit tipper truck was similarly in immaculate condition, betraying the van’s original purpose.

Quite a sight to behold as the high street is nose to tail in classic cars. Quite a few businesses were open in the morning too, offering the crowds a New Years Day coffee or bacon butty. It was almost like a normal Saturday by 11 am, as Stony Stratford had become vibrant with visitors and cars looking for parking spots.

It wouldn’t be a classic car meet without ‘70s supercars. The Ferrari 512 BB was logically named due to its 5-litre V12 engine. The BB actually means Berlinetta Bialbero, (dual camshaft) but once the Berlinetta Boxer tag was used by journalists, the name stuck. It was the flagship of the Ferrari range and the companies first mid-engined V12 road car. The V8 Ford-powered De Tomaso Pantera proved to be a less painful experience, thanks to its simple and durable underpinnings. The De Tomaso was far cheaper and more powerful too.

Some owners had to park some distance away from the main areas, as spaces were at a premium and had filled by 10.00 am. The two Heralds sensibly parked on a side road. The Herald was the first mass-produced British car with all-round independent suspension. The HS2300 Vauxhall Chevette arrived quite late, but still managed to attract plenty of admiring glances. The HS version was homologated Group 4 rally car, which achieved great success over its production run and did wonders to the models’ public profile.

Free advertising for local business as classics literally littered the streets, providing some unique and unlikely photographic opportunities of two visually arresting cars. The Ferrari 412 was an updated 365, which became a long-running design, spanning an impressive 17 years of production. It was the closest Ferrari got to designing a family car. Just up the road, a 1977 third-generation C3 Chevrolet Corvette hogs the pavement. By this time the Corvette had gradually seen a series of detuned engines, which attracted criticism at the time. However, to most of today’s observers, they sound great and the visual impact has not been diminished.

BLMC/BL material was, not surprisingly popular, thanks to their huge and varied range. Both classic MG and Land Rover numbers survive in their thousands across the UK, it’s thought that over 18,000 MGB are registered with the DVLA with plenty more waiting to rejoin the roads. Land Rovers are still common sights in rural areas, used as workhorses and farm hacks. Plentiful parts, mechanical simplicity and a durable reputation ensure that the original will be around for future generations to enjoy.

Restored Ford Escorts were abundant at the event. Its perfect proportions, motorsports and modification pedigree appealing to the crowds. The MK1 was running air ride suspension and is a well-known car among the modified classics scene. The early MK2 is a rare Rally Sports Mexico model with its original 1.6-litre engine. Finished in the vibrant Signal Orange, one of ten colours available for the Mexico. Around 2,500 of the MK2 were built and slotted in below the long-nosed 2.0 litre RS2000 in the pecking order.

Pre-war material was in abundance, this understated Hotchkiss and imposing Bentley representing the higher end of a long-gone era. Yet, as long as cars like this are shown, their status and functional elegance will always be appreciated. Hotchkiss was a French luxury car manufacturer, with a loyal domestic following. The company continued to sell cars in low numbers after the war and merged with Delahaye, another prestigious French luxury car company, in the mid-’50s. Sadly their pre-war designs and lack of exports meant production ended shortly afterwards. Bentley, on the other hand, has remained world-famous, with the 1929 Bentley 4½ Litre on hand to impress the crowds. It started out as a Vanden Plas converted saloon, then modified as a truck with Bentley S3 engine and finally as this elegant tourer. Platform swapping way before VW got their hands on it.

Historic Motorsports, thanks to the vast number of events in the UK, is a great reason to own a classic car. Both this 1935 Riley and this 1962 Zephyr covers different disciplines of racing. The Riley is a replica based on the TT Sprite, which served as a works rally car. The chassis is similar to the version raced by Mike Hawthorn, in which he won several races prior to his stardom in Grand Prix racing. Prior to the Escorts rally domination, Ford GB had successfully raced the Zephyr as both as a circuit and rally car. This replica is a regular attendee of the event and as clearly shown still active as a competition car.