Tom Scanlan took his camera along to the Bicester Heritage Summer FlyWheel
It’s the site of RAF Bicester as it was in World War 2 and now, in just a few short years, restored as a highly successful base for around forty businesses paying homage to historic cars and aircraft.
There are workshops restoring vintage cars, and instructing people in how to do this, promoting classic car events and much more. It’s an active airfield, too, and FlyWheel this year featured historic aircraft from The Great War and a Spitfire and the sole remaining Bristol Blenheim from WW2.
FlyWheel is probably the main event in a busy calendar, but members of the Bicester Scramblers get their own exclusive days and benefits — anyone can join.
The only-remaining Bristol Blenheim fighter-bomber. It was one like this that had perhaps the most extraordinary ‘bombing’ mission of the War: when the famous and legless air-ace Douglas Bader was shot down over France, one of his legs got stuck in his plane as he struggled to bale out. The Germans knew all about Bader and when he requested to have a new leg flown out, they agreed! And so, off went a Blenheim on its special safe-passage mission and Bader got his leg. Those sympathetic Germans might have come to regret it, however, as, amongst other escapades, Bader’s artificial legs were used to secretly transport sand out of a. tunnel being dug in an POW escape attempt!
Yes, it’s the motoring start of ‘Mary Poppins’, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang’!
Progress over fifty years: at the rear, a 1903 Knox, at the front a 1953 Maserati A6GCS special two-seater. It sounded as fabulous as it looks and claims provenance in the hands of the legendary racing-driver Juan Manual Fangio.
A Bicester business displaying some of its wares. The Armstrong Siddeley at the rear is wearing wartime headlamp beam deflectors, so that enemy bombers would be unable to spot them, bomb them or use them as lamp-lit road maps.
Handsome classics for sale at The Motor Shed. This family business has, before picking up this ‘shed’ at Bicester Heritage, purveyed hundreds of desirable cars on behalf of, and to, enthusiasts for decades. The shed is packed and dozens more cars are housed just a few miles away.
It’s a good family day…mum chases toddler!
In their day, every single Riley was a good-looker, like this successful racer, the Brooklands. Kestrel saloon in the background. Visitors are free to wander into all the workshops.
Plenty of space to picnic. These visitors are settle down by the Riley restoration workshop. Out of picture to the left is the very popular Wriggly Monkey brewery whose beers also reflect the car heritage: their least-alcoholic bitter is called Super Sports.
Hard core Ford Power: GT40 and Cobra.
nspector Maigret would approve, even if this Citroën Traction Avant might have been built in Slough, as many were.
This E-type has been converted to electric. Probably doesn’t sound so evocative, therefore.
It’s Bentley, but personalise it, why not?
One visitor was overheard saying this was his easy favourite of all the cars at FlyWheel. It’s a 1950s HWM, so-called after its base at Hersham and Walton in Surrey.
There’s a surprisingly good number of ‘Yank Tanks on the UK; this one’s a Ford Falcon
Pretty MG sports-racer in front of the Faina-bodied Austin A40.
Porsche 356 waits its turn.
Join the Bicester Scramblers four your own events, videos and a chance to have more investigation of the restored RAF Bicester.
Jaguar E-type, Morgan and vintage Austin head off the the demonstration track. In the background: a roundabout for the kids and some of the excellent selection of food stalls.
A pair of genuinely-baby Austins. Irresistible, but start saving now!
A 1920s Riley in vestigial trim and interesting wheel selection!
Through-an-archway view of pre-used Bentleys. Many like this end up in the Middle East or China.
With one of the two old hangars as the backdrop, a Morgan owner’s on his smart phone, while a D-type Jaguar receives attention in the background.
Appropriate to find this RAF Humber staff car.
Toyota and classic motorbikes waiting to head out onto the specially straw-bailed demonstration track. A huge variety of machinery showed their prowess to an appreciative crowd who had great viewing at trackside. There was even a charming gaggle of five 1903 De Dion Bouton motorised tricycles circulating and they were in fact very early hybrids…nothing new there, then!