After a splendid lunch at the Union Inn, we all met up at the Moretonhampstead Motor Museum, where the owner Frank – an alumnus of the University of Exeter – welcomed us and gave an introduction to his collection of old cars and motorcycles.
What a varied collection of motoring throughout the post-war years. There were the everyday cars which are not seen except in museums or on Classic Car Shows and some quite unusual examples. The motorcycles on display went back even further, and to me the most interesting one was a tricycle fitted with a Wall Auto Wheel. This is a bolt-on engine/wheel, basically for fitting to the side of a bicycle, but this one had been re-engineered to mount behind the tricycle.
Bentley Special Austin Ulster Rolls Royce
Some of the vehicles to note were an early MkI Cortina Estate dating from 1963 and a rather nice MkII Lotus Cortina. These genuine Lotus versions are now fetching eye-watering prices in auctions. Oh, I wish I had bought some in the sixties! The 1954 Austin A40 Van is a rarity and when did you last see one on the road? They were just general work horses and had little respect from the people using them.
Three of the more unusual cars were the 1963 Rochdale Olympic with a one-piece fibreglass body moulding and a monocoque body–chassis. These cars used BMC mechanical parts. The second one was the 1959 Berkley T60. These were using motorcycle engines and gearboxes, and again had fibreglass bodies. These were front-wheel drive and were either three- or four-wheel vehicles. Quite a few, in later life, had mini engines fitted which made them rather hairy to drive. The rarest of the three is the Austin 7 Ulster which were basically re-bodied Austin 7s with a modified engine. Some of the survivors are still used for motorsport today – not bad for cars that are 80-plus years old.
The Museum is well worth a nostalgic trip back in time – the number of times I heard ”we had one of those”.