GALLERY: Here’s Why The Bicester Sunday Scramble Is Worth The Frozen Fingers
Photography by Nat Twiss
Not to sound hyperbolic, especially as the east coast of the United States is recovering from what appeared to be a wintry maelstrom of ice and snow, but no amount of hot tea or coffee could stave off the biting cold at Bicester Heritage this past weekend. With barely any feeling in any of my extremities, myself and thousands of other amazingly dedicated enthusiasts descended upon the airbase-turned-motor hub to start the year off right. Needless to say, though the drinks didn’t do much, the cars made the trip well worth the prospect of frostbite.
With the sun barely skimming the horizon at this time of year in the UK, the entire place was cast in crisp winter light for the day’s duration, ensuring these cars looked their best as they awoke from hibernation perhaps a bit earlier than most. It was quite the turnout, too. Although that’s not unusual for the Sunday Scramble, I was surprised to see so many here for the first event of the new year. It was with a slight anxiety that I drove to the event with my beloved Miata frosting up on the motorway, and I had to wonder who on earth might be mad enough to bring out priceless machines in such conditions. It turns out that many, many people are mad enough.
Parking up next to a pair of beautiful Alfa Giulia Super Nuovas, despite already feeling the tips of my fingers tingling inside my gloves, I knew this was going to be a good one. As per usual, the mix of machines was wonderfully varied. Everything from Jeep Willys in full US military regalia to a perfect pumpkin-orange Datsun 240Z. Then I round the corner into the MT Yard, where, during WWI, mechanics worked tirelessly on their aeroplanes, to find myself staring down the barrel of an Adrian Newey-designed Leyton House F1 car, flanked perfectly by two stunning blue Porsche 911s; a 2.7RS and a 964RS.
The light from the huge windows cast perfect shadows on the exposed brick walls—maybe the cold was affecting my head a touch, but I was madly in love. These small surprises are what makes this event such a blast to attend throughout the year; the deeper you explore, the more you attend, the more you find. Look into one of the vast hangars and you’ll discover a treasure trove of Porsches from the national owners’ club, or poke your head into another building and you’ll find a blower Bentley in a state of refurbishment, its gargantuan engine block stripped for a rebuild. It’s magical.
As much as we like to complain about the weather and seasons here in Britain, it allows us to explore the same location in an endless number of different moods and atmospheres. Bicester is no different in this regard: it’s a place that’s uniquely cinematic in scope and size, and changes with the seasons like no other I’ve explored our strange little niche of enjoying old cars.
The next Sunday Scramble is set for April, and with fresh buds just about breaking through on the trees—and hopefully slightly more temperate weather—I can’t wait to see what turns up after the thaw.