Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Classic British cars - Jabłonna

Time prevented me from posting these pics last week; this was the BPCC's British Motor Show and Classic Car Rally, starting and finishing at the palace in Jabłonna, some 12 miles north of Warsaw.

Above: a brace of 1949 limousines: left - a Bentley Mark VI, right - a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. Both belong to a British Pole, both are available for hire ( Standing next to the limos a classic British sports car - the mid-engined, wedge-shaped Lotus Esprit S1, from 1978 (below). The Giugaro-designed Esprit first saw light of day in 1976. The modern aesthetic matured very quickly between the late '40s and mid '70s, after which change slowed down to the point where cars today change shape for marketing reasons rather than aesthetic or engineering ones. Look at the shape below: it's 32 years old, but just 27 years younger than the stately limos seen above.

Below: an Austin-Healey 3000 Mk I from 1960, a rally replica of the car in which Pat Moss (Stirling's sister) won the Liège-Rome-Liège and finished second in the Coupe des Alpes.

my personal favourite of the day: a 1953 Aston Martin DB2/4. Impeccably restored, under the bonnet as well as inside the cockpit, a glorious car that oozes gentlemanly character.

As well as the oldtimers, there were modern cars from Jaguar, Land-Rover, Lotus and Aston Martin; these somehow did not attract my attention. Today's cars for me lack character. A classic that has passed the test of time, driven infrequently and cherished by its owner, is an object of great value and beauty. Without character, a car is but a commodity, a functional box on wheels for getting one from here to where public transport does not go or for doing the weekly shop. I like cars that have a lot more charisma than a washing machine or fridge-freezer.

One of three 'E'-Type Jaguars to take part, a US-spec (no headlamp farings). Note the yellow zabytkowe ('heritage') number plates. Assuming your car is over 25 years old and out of production for over 15 years, original and in good mechanical condition, with zabytkowe plates you can insure your classic car for peanuts. However, by having yellow plates, you relinquish some of your freedoms as the owner; you cannot, for example,  re-export it without the permission of the Polish state.

It was wonderful seeing this many excellently maintained British classics - cars that impressed me since my childhood - in the stately surroundings of a Polish palace. This is what Britishness is all about - quality engineering, thoroughbred tradition, classic style - a language understood the world over.

This time last year:
Cara al Sol - a short story

This time two years ago:
Pumping out the floodwater

This time three years ago:
To Góra Kalwaria and beyond

This time four years ago:
Developments in Warsaw's exurbs

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