Gillian decides to sneak her classic into the Flying Scotsman. Will anyone notice?
Gillian has snuck her Standard into The Flying Scotsman, David's been using his BRM and Murray's lent his MX-5 out.
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Idon’t know what all those Bentley, Lagonda and Ford Model B owners would have made of it. For one day, the grand drive up to the Gleneagles Hotel was their stomping ground – and I’d brought my humble 1950s interloper along for the ride to crash the party.
The Flying Scotsman rally (report, page 8) had me hooked when I went last year as a photographer, and I’ve been fascinated by cars of the 1920s and ‘30s ever since. There’s just something about the noise and appearance of these pre-WWII vehicles – and the effort the entrants put into running them – that immediately won me over when I saw them tackling one of 2015’s special stages at Perth’s Scone Palace.
I wasn’t going to miss catching up on the Scottish action towards the end of this year’s event – but I needed a four-wheeled companion to get me between the stages. Cue the perfect excuse to get Henry, my beloved Standard Eight, out on a mission.
This year, 100 crews were battling against the elements, modern day traffic and pre-WWII mechanicals on their epic journey between Leicestershire’s Belvoir Castle and the grand finale at Gleneagles. And as I opened up the garage they were prepping for another day’s adventure at Knockhill Circuit, 25 miles away.
But while the cars taking part might be more than seven decades old, they weren’t slow. I had a mere 803cc and 28 of Standard’s sedate horses to keep up with them. Opting to give our local circuit a miss, I instead decided to aim for the burgh of Pitlochry, some 50 miles north.
The route initially took Henry and I along some very familiar roads. We navigated our way through the villages of Falkland and Strathmiglo before turning onto an unnamed road that passes the entrance of Pitmedden Forest. From there, we
‘Once I’d dodged the black ice and pheasants I had to deal with the inclines of the A9 – which reduced Henry’s top speed to 38mph’
went through Abernethy Glen, which was as special as ever. More recently, it’s been part of my commute – and that meant regularly dodging elderly tractors, ice patches and pheasants! Once I’d navigated through all that, the Standard had to tackle the inclines of the A9, with a new top speed of 38mph.
But it was worth it just to see the hills and forests of the Highlands roll into view. After a slow but incident-free outing, 995 UXP arrived at the picturesque surroundings of Atholl Palace. It didn’t take long before the quiet tranquillity of the Higlands was impressively punctuated by the first throaty roar of a vintage car’s engine.
I wondered what the crews, dressed in period costumes, and driving all those Bentleys, Aston Martin, Talbots and Lagondas, would have made of the lone photographer standing next to a 1950s saloon on their jaunt up to the palace.
As the teams tucked into lunch within the palace, I once again started up Henry, and we headed south. We pulled into Birnam for a brief lunch stop before continuing on towards the Gleneagles Hotel where the crews would shortly be due to complete their three-day driving marathon. My Eight diligently pressed through a strong head wind, passing Aberuthven and Auchterarder, as we made our way to Gleneagles.
No sooner had I swung my camera strap over my shoulders, than the first finisher of the Flying Scotsman sped up towards the hotel and a kilted bagpiper began an enthusiastic musical greeting for all those arriving. For a short while, the vintage stalwarts came in thick and fast – I was a very busy snapper at the event’s finale.
It was good news for Henry too; he’d be joined at Gleneagles by a 1928 Ford A Sports Coupé and a 1936 Riley 12/4 Special. The Standard fitted in perfectly in the glorious nostalgia of it all, so clearly a 1950s Austin saloon doesn’t look too out of place on the Flying Scotsman.
Before I headed home I couldn’t resist a cheeky jaunt down to the rally’s finish line. I left Henry to pose outside the hotel for just long enough to get the requisite shot, making a hasty getaway just before all the competitors started asking how a 1950s Standard had sneaked into the event.
Until next year, chaps…