by Jon Quiney

Organised by the Bean Car Club for pre-war cars and after a break for two years, this event took place on Sunday 3rd April. The run starts at Heckfield, Hampshire and follows a suggested route south on minor roads to Stockbridge for coffee, and then on to the Alice Lisle pub in the New Forest for lunch or a picnic on the green. In the afternoon the routecontinues on to the historic south coast town of Christchurch, Dorset for tea before the entrants’ head for home.

This year we had four of our Triumphs participating out of the total 86 entries. Myself with wife Sue and dog Percy, and also Don Pearce with son Matthew, both of us in Dolomite Roadsters starting from Heckfield. We were later joined at the coffee stop in Stockbridge by Rob and Marion Green in their Flow-Free saloon and also Dickon and Liane Armstrong in their Vitesse 14/60 six-light saloon.

We had an early and very frosty start from our home in Reigate, deciding to travel with our hood up to combat the bright but freezing weather, and were surprised to see Don and Matthew Pearce arrive with their hood down but well muffled up against the cold.

The High Street in Stockbridge was as busy as ever, we Heckfield starters being joined by more entrants and quite a few other classic vehicles that were not actually on the run. A great atmosphere though, with all manner of transport (including a cart pulled by three horses) and quite a few cars and motorcycles driving up and down looking for parking spaces.

From here the run continues along narrow lanes through pretty Hampshire and Wiltshire villages and then on to the New Forest where there were plenty of ponies and donkeys to avoid, often grazing on the roadside verges. To my surprise at one point we travelled very near to the village in Wiltshire where I was born but we had no time to stop! Instead I found myself musing on whether my parents might have travelled down some of these little lanes many years ago in their family saloon (a Vauxhall 12/4) that would have been similar in age to the car I was driving now.

Parking on the green in front of the Alice Lisle pub for lunch was as convivial as always, with much chatting with other entrants and admiring of each other’s cars. We then headed down towards Christchurch and stopped on the way for petrol. As we left the garage an older Range Rover came by, which we followed a few cars behind. Suddenly it erupted with huge clouds of thick white smoke billowing out, so much so that we could not see the road in front us and we were all obliged to stop and then creep gingerly forward as the smoke cleared a little. The Range Rover however did not stop for a further fewhundred yards by which time our car and several others around us were engulfed by the acrid smoke. We eventually drove past it, now halted at the roadside, but the fumes combined with the petrol vapour from the tank I had just filled to the brim, made us and our poor dog feel quite grim. At this point we decided to head for home which we reached in the early evening, fortunately without further mishap. 

I have to say my Dolomite ran very well throughout the day with only a few small hiccups right at the beginning with the heavy frost and cold engine. Indeed, our temperature gauge barely moved from the zero position all the morning but it did warm up a little in the afternoon. Some of the roads had been gritted and salted overnight which I had not anticipated at this time of year. In all, we travelled just over 200 miles during the day, which for me is quite enough at my age.

Apart from the enjoyment of meeting old friends and a sense of achievement, our lasting impression of the day though was one of being bounced about on our 80 year plus old suspension on a lot of poor and potholed roads which now seem to dominate this part of our country. We expect that single-track roads will cause some discomfort and we only travel slowly on them, but in my view the condition of many of our other main and secondary roads are a national disgrace, and not really suitable for older classic cars. Apart from thepassengers, we felt that at times our poor car was being shaken to bits on our dreadful roads and it now suffers from several squeaks and rattles to prove it. End of rant!

Well done to all involved including the organiser, David Main, who is also a member of our Club. My navigator always says that his directions are some of the best she has seen. I also spotted two of the three rare Bean cars entered by their club. A great day out this year with no rain, and I am sure a challenge enjoyed by all involved.