Hen­drik Moulds looks back on a truly mem­o­rable 356 In­ter­na­tional meet­ing

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Hen­drik Moulds Pho­tos: Hen­drik Moulds and PR Ser­vices Ltd

This year ʼs an­nual meet­ing of 356 own­ers was held in Ware, Eng­land, be­tween 3rd and 6th May and, as far as I know writes Hen­drik Moulds, is the long­est con­tin­u­ously held gath­er­ing for Porsches in the world. Each year the club from a dif­fer­ent Euro­pean coun­try hosts the meet­ing, tak­ing it in turns to show the best their coun­try has to of­fer. It con­tin­ues to be en­thu­si­as­ti­cally sup­ported world­wide by 356 en­thu­si­asts and this year ʼs event had at­ten­dees from Swe­den, Ger­many, Hol­land, Italy, Bel­gium, Switzer­land, Aus­tria, Rus­sia, France, Aus­tralia, Den­mark, Lux­em­burg, USA and of course the UK. This year the num­ber of cars par­tic­i­pat­ing was lim­ited to 140 and is smaller than most pre­vi­ous meet­ings, which can host over 300 cars.

This was to be the 13th time I had at­tended one of these meet­ings and 15 years since it had pre­vi­ously been held in the UK, when we gath­ered in Brighton – that meet­ing also hap­pened to be my first, so I was ea­ger to at­tend this year as well. I par­tic­i­pated in my RHD 1953 Cabri­o­let (with the top down con­stantly) and it was a nov­elty to set off on the morn­ing of the first day of the event as nor­mally it takes me mul­ti­ple days, a ferry cross­ing and some­times flights to be able to par­tic­i­pate in these events. How­ever, they are more than worth the trou­ble with great food, drink and ca­ma­raderie. For me per­son­ally, this year ʼs event was ex­cep­tional in these at­tributes be­ing ably or­gan­ised by a small team headed by Fred Hamp­ton, Si­mon Bow­ery and Jamie Richard­son.

We were due to be­gin ar­riv­ing from 2.00pm on the Thurs­day, so it was an easy 200 miles for me to drive south to Han­bury Manor Ho­tel, a fan­tas­tic stately home built in the Ja­cobean style and set in 200 acres of grounds, in­clud­ing a golf course, so there was plenty of park­ing for the cars. Once parked in my des­ig­nated space, I checked in and went to col­lect my in­for­ma­tion and goodie bag.

This con­sisted of a polo shirt and enamel grille badge for the event, as well as gifts from the spon­sors – and beer! There was also plenty of time to re­lax, meet up with old friends and make new ac­quain­tances, as well as ad­mire the cars as they ar­rived. For those with money burn­ing a hole in their pocket, there were stalls from Kar­mann Kon­nec­tion, PR Ser­vices and Diane Mor­ril­lʼs 356 Registry Goodie Store.

Al­though there were only 140 cars par­tic­i­pat­ing this time there were some ex­cep­tional ve­hi­cles in at­ten­dance, in­clud­ing three ex­am­ples of the alu­minium Gmünds, two of which took part in some of the driv­ing routes. The par­tic­i­pants were split into four groups de­pend­ing on the age


of the 356, start­ing with Green, Blue, Red and fi­nally Yel­low for the ʻmod­ernʼ 356s. This was the or­gan­is­ersʼ at­tempt to stag­ger de­par­ture times so as to ease any traf­fic conges­tion in the sur­round­ing area, a pol­icy which was very nec­es­sary and proved ef­fec­tive.

Once every­one had ar­rived, we had a de­li­cious buf­fet din­ner at the ho­tel set in one of their beau­ti­ful din­ing rooms. Af­ter­wards, some re­tired to the bar for sev­eral drinks late into the night and were ʻjoinedʼ by The Hoff! This turned out to be a mis­take for those of us who were part of the Green group, as we were due to set off the next day at 8.00am, with break­fast at 7.00am!

Some­how the early birds man­aged to drag them­selves out of bed to be met with blue skies and the per­fect day for a drive out in the 356s. The route took us along lit­tle used coun­try roads through the beau­ti­ful coun­try­side and pic­turesque vil­lages to ar­rive at Lee Maxted-pageʼs for a visit of his im­pres­sive show­room set in the grounds of his house. What a way to work from home!

There was an amaz­ing dis­play of all man­ner of Porsche race cars, from 904s to ex­am­ples of the more mod­ern 956 and 962, as well as some rally and road cars, too. Af­ter gaz­ing ad­mirably at the im­pres­sive line-up with cof­fee in hand, we set off again for the short drive to Hed­ing­ham Cas­tle. The cas­tle dates from 1140, of which the keep is all that re­mains, while the man­sion in the cas­tle grounds dates back to 1720. This venue has also hosted the UKʼS big­gest bi­en­nial gath­er­ing of early Porsches for many years.

Af­ter driv­ing up the long drive, past the man­sion and over a small humped back bridge, we parked the cars on the grass sur­round­ing the keep. Here we were able to en­joy a sump­tu­ous pic­nic in the cas­tle grounds whilst watch­ing the other 356s ar­rive. Af­ter lunch we were en­ter­tained by an im­pres­sive dis­play of joust­ing from four knights on horse­back, two ʻgoodʼ knights and two ʻevilʼ knights, who showed off great skills and made a tremen­dous spec­ta­cle, es­pe­cially when the lances splin­tered af­ter a direct hit.

Af­ter the fes­tiv­i­ties we then made our way back to the ho­tel for a lit­tle re­lax­ation, which for some meant head­ing to the bar, be­fore we left by coach to Hat­field House Old Palace in the grounds of the cur­rent Hat­field House for din­ner. Hat­field House was built in 1611 in the Ja­cobean style and has been in the same fam­ily since its con­struc­tion. The Old Palace, where we had our din­ner, dated from 1497 and was a favourite res­i­dence of Queen El­iz­a­beth I – it was here that she was told she was to be Queen of Eng­land.

Af­ter en­joy­ing cham­pagne in the gar­dens while watch­ing the set­ting sun, we went into the im­pres­sive hall with its many wall ta­pes­tries. In be­tween cour­ses we had a brief his­tory of the build­ing and its sur­round­ings fol­lowed by a sur­prise guest speaker. Six-time Le Mans win­ner and for­mer For­mula One driver Jacky Ickx had joined us as an am­bas­sador for one of the spon­sors and gave us an in­sight into what it is like to be a rac­ing driver.


Af­ter an ex­cel­lent meal we then left by coach for the ho­tel where some were able to have a few drinks at the bar be­fore re­tir­ing for the night.

Luck­ily for the Green group, Satur­day was a much later start with break­fast at a civilised 9.30 be­fore an 11.00am de­par­ture. We were once again blessed with glo­ri­ous sun­shine and trav­elled on small roads through the won­der­ful coun­try­side and pic­turesque vil­lages to Wethers­field MOD base. As the base is still in use every­one had to go through se­cu­rity to gain ac­cess to the site.

Once there we were treated to a sim­ple lunch in the can­teen af­ter which we were es­corted through the base to what looked like their old air­field. There we par­tic­i­pated in var­i­ous driv­ing tasks in­clud­ing a slalom, guess­ing the weight of your car and re­vers­ing as close to a (soft) wall as pos­si­ble. It was great to bask in the sun­shine while watch­ing the var­i­ous mod­els of 356 per­form the tasks with ex­u­ber­ance af­ter I had com­pleted my run.

In ad­di­tion to the driv­ing tasks, Jacky Ickx was a true gent be­ing on hand all af­ter­noon, sign­ing pho­tos and hav­ing his pic­ture taken with any­one who wished to do so. Once every­one had had a turn with the tasks it was time to set off back to the ho­tel through rolling coun­try­side, with the sun shin­ing all the way.

Satur­day even­ing and it was time for the Gala Din­ner. We trav­elled by coach to Dux­ford Avi­a­tion Mu­seum, an im­pres­sive dis­play of air­craft and avi­a­tion ac­ces­sories housed in a gi­ant air­craft hangar. Upon ar­rival we were able to wan­der be­tween the var­i­ous air­craft ex­hibits, in­clud­ing a Con­corde, Vul­can bomber and some clas­sic World War II air­craft, some of which were sus­pended in mid-air, whilst sip­ping on glasses of cham­pagne. We were then in­vited to take our seats for the ex­cel­lent meal while images and video footage of the event were scanned on the wall above us, in­clud­ing some of my­self on one of the drives!

In be­tween cour­ses, Jacky Ickx was once again on hand to give out the var­i­ous awards, in­clud­ing one for the chal­lenges at the air­field. It was then time for our or­gan­is­ers to give gifts to those who had helped be­hind the scenes, mak­ing the event run so splen­didly and hand over to next year ʼs or­gan­is­ers, whose meet­ing is to be held near Lake Lucerne in Switzer­land. Brochures and a short video pre­viewed what looks to be an­other fab­u­lous meet­ing.

Af­ter the for­mal­i­ties were over there was mu­sic and danc­ing un­til it was time to take the coach back to the ho­tel. Upon ar­rival, some wanted to carry on with the fes­tiv­i­ties and so headed for the bar (a com­mon oc­cu­pa­tion, it seems – Ed) where we drank and chat­ted un­til the early hours.

Sun­day morn­ing ar­rived, and it was time to say farewell to friends both old and new. Af­ter a late break­fast I made the leisurely 200-mile jour­ney home know­ing that it had been one of the best In­ter­na­tion­als of the many I have at­tended. CP


Left: Not one, not two but three Gmünd-built Porsches showed up, two of which par­took of the driv­ing events Right: Par­tic­i­pants thread­ing their way into Han­bury Manor, a Ja­cobean-style re­sort ho­tel set in some 200 acres of Hert­ford­shire coun­try­sideRight: Guest of honour was leg­endary Porsche Le Mans driver, Jacky Ickx who, when he was­nʼt driv­ing a 356 on the event, spent much of his time sign­ing au­to­graphs Left: Gath­ered at Dux­ford, the scene was like one of those pho­tos you see taken out the back of Werk 1 in Zuf­fen­hausen back in the early 1960s…

Right: 550 Spy­der was one of sev­eral his­toric cars on dis­play at the event, adding a touch of the ex­otic to an al­ready spec­tac­u­lar week­end Left: Satur­day nightʼs Gala Din­ner was a ma­jor part of the event, held within the spec­tac­u­lar hangar hous­ing part of the amaz­ing Dux­ford col­lec­tion of air­craft

Far left: Din­ner at Hat­field House – what a great venue!

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