A First-Timer Indulges In All Things British At The Bicester Sunday Scramble
Photography by Jake Eastham
I’m ashamed to say that last weekend was my first visit to Bicester Heritage, an excellent cluster of garages, workshops, and showrooms situated on a former RAF bomber airfield that I’d often read about on this site, I’ve wanted to go for many years, basically since it opened operations in 2013, but for some reason less important things always got in the way.
Having finally made my way there for the Sunday Scramble, the first thing I have to say is how fantastic the location is. Occupied by the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and further developed as a bomber base and training grounds in 1923, the mellowed red brick hangars and outbuildings are the perfect backdrop today for vintage automobiles and aircraft.
As is my way of doing things, I arrived very early before the punters and I was rewarded by the morning sunshine just breaking cover through the trees as I was ushered into the car park. The joy of beating the crowds means more photographic opportunities in better light with less people in the way, and you find some nice opportunities whilst the cars are still being parked. Saturday hangovers are still being shaken off which keeps the crowds in bed a little longer, and there are no queues for an early breakfast—what a glorious spring morning I had, with the low sun shining through cherry blossoms onto some choice vintage metal.
I am a long way from being an expert on cars when it comes to the mechanics, but I am captivated by their aesthetic, their sounds, smells, the earned patina and timeless designs. Leather, chrome, wood, spokes, buttons, gear levers, and badges all have a lasting appeal to me as a photographer regardless of my appreciation for the machines they’re attached to, and it wasn’t long before a Bentley Blower let me indulge in such details. The shape of the footplate, windshields, and the curved Bentley winged badge on the back end are all fascinating little details to study, but more motors beckoned.
Within yards of the Blower I was stopped by the little Fraser Nash owned by the Wriggly Monkey Brewery (a wriggly monkey being part of the chain drive that stops you selecting two gears at the same time. I know, me neither). This wasn’t a nut and bolt restoration like the Bentley, but it had no less charm.
I spot the open doors of the Sports Purpose building egging me on towards a show-stopping Porsche 356 Speedster and a unique Lancia Outlaw Aurelia—what a stunning car and concept.
The crowds were pouring in soon enough though, and I knew I needed to work fast to get the sort of shots I wanted, so I started to become more selective (but still open-minded) about what I wanted to photograph. If I had to choose I would go for British classics though, given the location: Astons, Jags, and Rovers. I wasn’t disappointed in the contingent of these marques, and finding a few E-Types under partial shade was the icing on the very British cake of the morning in Bicester.