Classic Sports Car


RUN BY Julian Balme OWNED SINCE 1991 PREVIOUS REPORT August 2022


Following the 2022 Goodwood Membersʼ Meeting, it was clear Woolyʼs days as a ʻrace carʼ were over and a life of more leisurely pursuits lay ahead. As a result, in 2023 we entered a trio of events starting with Giant Killers, a lively hot-rod weekend at Cerne Abbas, Dorset, and culminatin­g in France with the season-ending Journées dʼautomne in October. The outing in between was local, gatecrashi­ng the Vintage Sports-car Clubʼs Somerset Tour. Needless to say, all was well close to home, but further afield proved more of a challenge.

Bearing in mind the thousands of miles Iʼve driven in the Lincoln, Iʼve always had good reason to be confident. Of the few mishaps Iʼve experience­d, all were relatively easy to resolve – even a frozen radiator near the Grand Canyon – but thereʼs always a first time.

Nearly two dozen Brits met at the Channel Tunnel in a variety of cars for the three-day adventure. Set in the Champagne region, west of Reims, Journées dʼautomne is a perfect blend of socialisin­g and driving, drawing entrants from all over Europe. Vehicles ranged from a 1906 Bianchi to an S2 Lotus Elise, with all manner of curios in between. There were pre-war cars from Bugatti to Nash, though most were popular 1950s-ʼ60s Porsche, Jaguar and Alfa sports cars, plus a sprinkling of Ferrari, Maserati and

Aston exotica. Apart from Dylan Milesʼ big-block Corvette, there was little from the other side of the Atlantic, which is no doubt why my ʼ54 Lincoln caused a stir. That or there were lots of Exxonmobil and BP shareholde­rs on the event.

Proceeding­s kicked off with the arrival of c80 crews at basecamp, Fère-en-tardenois, for a typically French barbecue in the grounds of the château, setting the bar for a spectacula­r culinary weekend: organisers Etienne Raynaud and Guillaume Le Metayer enjoy wine and food nearly as much as cars.

Saturdayʼs activities revolved around local track Ecuyers, where occupants could circulate for as long as they liked, as long as they wore a helmet. With 18 corners and lots of elevation, the course is more suited to go-karts than a 2.5-ton slab of Americana: after barely two laps, Iʼd worn a second, smaller white ring in the front tyres just above the whitewall, and duly decided to call it a day.

Not that the fun ended there, with lots of opportunit­ies to blag rides, even drives, in other cars. On track, among the highlights were a more mature gentleman seeing how far he could hang the tail out on his Alpine A110 without spinning, and three young men in a DAF Daffodil whirring round and round like a clockwork mouse.

Such is the nature of the event, the latter trio rightly won an award at the informal prizegivin­g where, much to my amazement, I also got a gong. Not just any old trinket, either: as the eventʼs favourite car, we were given a fabulous watch by sponsor Baltic. The last time Wooly won anything was 21 years ago at Goodwood (Best Presented Team), so I was bowled over. As one of the organisers explained, 275s, 8Cs and Type 35s will win plenty of prizes at other events, whereas Wooly was seen to be both unique and different. Vive la difference!

There was a chill in the air for Sundayʼs 75km rally along roads linking the vineyards. We drove through beautiful countrysid­e en route to another château for another fine meal. With farewells concluded, we headed for Calais and all was going swimmingly until 17km from the port, when the water-pump shaft sheared, sending the fan into the radiator and shedding the belt. So it wasnʼt long before we overheated and coasted to the edge of the road.

Thankfully, James Wheeler in his Alfa Giulia TI wasnʼt far behind and was able to give my partner, Helen, a lift to London. I wasnʼt quite so lucky and, with the added complicati­on of not being fluent in French, a challengin­g night lay ahead. Through my insurer, RH, Wooly was recovered to a dark, isolated yard in the Calais suburbs. The driver was hugely helpful and arranged both a hotel and a taxi to get me there, before setting off to rescue another hapless motorist.

The following morning I got a lift home with another entrant, James Mitchell in his Mk1 Jaguar, but as I write Wooly is still awaiting a slot on a Uk-bound transporte­r. Once itʼs back, I can investigat­e how badly damaged the radiator is, and hopefully get the water pump repaired. Cʼest la vie…

 ?? ?? Wooly Bully’s war paint sticks out in rural France, but proved popular at superb Journées d’automne
Wooly Bully’s war paint sticks out in rural France, but proved popular at superb Journées d’automne
 ?? ?? Among the hot rods and trucks at June’s Giant Killers event in Dorset. Above: local pub meet
Among the hot rods and trucks at June’s Giant Killers event in Dorset. Above: local pub meet
 ?? ?? Being recovered only 17km from Calais
Being recovered only 17km from Calais

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