Breakfast at The Castle

For those expecting their regular fix of classic and sports cars at The Hare in Roxwell on this the premier Saturday in May, there was a surprise in store. For this month only (so far), we would be tasting a full English at its sister pub, The Castle, in Great Leighs.

Arriving reasonably early, we were greeted by a gathering, mainly of Porsches, not quite filling the ample car park. But things were about to change and quickly. Within the following half hour, under a welcome blue sky and warm sun, the regulars and novices began to arrive. So much so, that the quiet road outside became an impromptu car show of its own.

Parked along its length were some lovely old British cars including: a Morris Eight, a Wolsey 6/80 (I think), an MG Midget and an Austin A90 Atlantic. The latter tri-headlamp sports convertible, from around 1951-52 and now a rare sight, was part of the post-war “export or die” drive and was aimed at the States, but few were sold there. Its 4-cylinder 2.7 litre engine, derived from the A70 Hampshire, was no match for the American V6s or V8s. This rare survivor is a credit to its owner.

It is a shame that these old timers don’t arrive earlier so that they could access the pub car park. Whilst there were a good many modern Porsches in said car park, I did spot a couple of interesting 356s, both looking highly original. A white 1500 (?) roadster was parked on the grass verge outside, whilst a red, race-prepared coupé hunkered down with its younger siblings in the car park. Both great cars.

Speaking of small, fast sports cars but something newer, and British, some friends brought along a Lotus Elise S2 type 23, built around 2003 and resplendent in white livery with green stripes. This was number eight in a limited run of 50. Probably a celebration of something. A great little car, and fast. You’ll probably need Vaseline to help you get in and out, though.

Classic & Sports Cars brought along a splendid, primrose Mk 1 Healey of 1961 vintage. It was the ex-Derek Park car, with documented history and showing around 500 miles since full restoration. Check out their website and your lottery numbers if you fancy buying it. Always good to see classic Fords from the 70s, 80s and 90s. In this case Escorts, including a 1972 Mexico(?) through to some RS Turbos; but that Yellow RS2000 did it for me.

Most readers know of my soft spot for American iron. Well, I was not disappointed. There were two excellent Corvettes, a recent model with a gorgeous sort of metallic aubergine paint job, and a late 70s machine looking better than new. It’s the swoopy shape that always gets me.

A regular at these events is a green Mercury Cougar. From Ford’s Mercury division, this looked like a 1970 example; let me know if I am close. A 1967 version was driven by Dianna Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It took a battering on the ice rink, but still survives. Check out the “Bond In Motion” exhibition.

Italy’s finest were out in force with red Ferraris and black Lambos. I love those full fat engine noises. English exotica were there in force with MacLarens and three or four Aston Martins. These included a DB9 coupe, a DB11 convertible and a Vanquish. Coincidently, the KE suffix on the DB9 was the same as Pierce Brosnan’s Vanquish in Die Another Day. Our region fielded three Jags: a brace of XJS 4.0L convertibles brought by Steve and Wendy Potter and your scribe, together with David and Sharon Ogg’s white Suffolk SS100.

Finally, the take-home car. Well, if you had seen it, maybe you would too – and it’s not American! Feast your eyes on a 1956 Aston Martin DB 2/4, fresh from a nut-and-bolt restoration. The present owner bought it in boxes and over a two-year period AND turned it into the magnificent machine you see today. The interior was as good as the paint on the exterior with a four dial set up placed centrally on the dash. With a nod to modernity, it was fitted with central locking and connectivity, but you wouldn’t know it. Great car.

I will leave it there. So, if you weren’t able to come along this month, do try next time, if only for the breakfast.

Neil Shanley