Looking Back At The Inaugural Petrolicious Drivers’ Meeting At Bicester Heritage
Photography by Alex Lawrence
Since the dawn of Petrolicious, the UK has been a great source of inspiring stories, like-minded enthusiasts, and a pillar of our international digital community. And while Bicester Heritage – the ex-RAF base turned classic car hub – is visually a blast from the past, it’s an encouraging beacon for the future of classic motoring which made it the prime location for our inaugural Drivers’ Meeting.
So what is a Drivers’ Meeting? Good question. There’s no shortage of concours events all over the world that congratulate the tier 1 echelons of provenance, preservation, and perfection which is hugely impactful for the hobby, but our mission is a bit different: replicate what Petrolicious.com would feel like in real life.
This meant a curation and celebration of over 200+ diverse cars ranging from a Volvo P1800 to a Jaguar C-Type, all through the Petrolicious lens we’ve crafted with alongside our audience. We were thrilled to share the day and the weather with over 4,000 friends including previous Petrolicious film stars, incredibly talented artists and Petrolicious contributors, and fellow enthusiasts.
Among some of the friends with cars on display were Coldplay’s Guy Berryman attending with his Porsche Zagato Speedster, which was an immediate source of ‘bromance’ with Petrolicious Founder/CEO and fellow Zagato Speedster owner Afshin Behnia. Our YouTube compatriots Mr. JWW brought his Ferrari F12 TdF and Harry Metcalfe of Harry’s Garage drove his lovely Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato.
Across the well-represented collection of Alpines, you’d find a handful of hotrods including a Ford Model A, ‘Old Red’, driven by photographer Amy Shore and her husband Craig Callum. Singer Vehicle Design Dynamic Lightweight Study test mule and its driver Marino Franchitti led a trio of Porsches followed by a running yet fully rusted Porsche 356 and legendary Brumos RSR.
A contrast between off-road machines who share the same basic principles of during but in totally different packages from a Peking to Paris contenders, ex-Colin Mcrae Subaru, Group B rally cars and a Bowler.
And the Alfas!. While an immaculate Giulia Super, black 8C Competizione, and GTVs in various specs, some in RHD, were a treat to see, meeting the Alfaholics-owned Autodelta TZ and the Jochen Rindt/Nino Vaccarella Autodelta GTA was a holy moment.
A long line of Alfa Romeos bled into a gathering of Alpines, themselves adjacent to a raft of Porsches, Ferraris, and hot-rods, as well as racing saloons and Nelson Piquet’s 1986 Williams F1 machine—the FW11B—which, as a lifelong fan of my local F1 team (it isn’t just football fans that have geographical loyalty), was a personal treat to see up close.
Aston Martins from various eras were sprinkled between the hangar and grounds, Group C racers thrilled younger generations that were born just as they were being replaced, and a troupe of Zagato-bodied cars took the edge off of the ‘80s aero packages. The car parks were full of incredible machines as is the standard at any good car show, and from some angles it was hard to differentiate between the spectator lot and the show itself.
This was a Drivers’ Meeting in more than just name, but the young crowd had plenty of drivers-to-be discovering their dream cars for the first time. In all, it was a chance for d impassioned people to indulge in the amalgamations of metal and carbon and rubber that excite them, whether their taste steered them towards MGs or Elise GT1s. The show wasn’t so much a new formula as it was a tasteful and inclusive execution. There was a car for everyone to think about on the drive home, and plenty of opportunities to connect with the like minds filled with the same ideas. For a journo who’s no stranger to Bicester, this was energizing.
Representing the pursuit of the extreme were two Williams F1 cars (including the company’s first transporter) stationed across from endurance racing legends like Porsche 996 RSR and Aston Martin DBR9 which won its class at Le Mans. Partitioning the groups sat a bit of a different interpretation of extreme – a semi-circle of red Ferraris including this Michelotti 308 tribute previously featured on Petrolicious.
So yes, certainly a diverse mix of cars which made for a spectacular show but what stood out to me the most was who was drooling over them. Teenage car spotters, 10-year olds taking pictures with Mom’s iphone, and small kids hand-in-hand with the parent trying to instill their passion in the next generation was truly the most moment of it all for me, and captured the spirit of what Petrolicious is all about.
So whether you’re showing a VW Scirroco or a Ferrari 275 GTB, the philosophy of the Drivers’ Meeting is the common denominator, passion. That’s the common thread we set out to celebrate and couldn’t have been more thrilled with the result. We are absolutely stoked to do it again soon.