The Reason Why.

After settling in at Chez Maurit, the next excitement was getting to Angouleme to see what was going on. Friday was billed as a bit of a special day and much was made of the Concourse de Elegance in the evening but, if I went to the races again, I would probably give Friday a miss. There was quite a lot of hanging around and by the time the party got going, it was time to get going – so we missed it.


As we did one of the bends on the way home. It was dark and the lights, although good for a vintage car, didn’t illuminate the tightness of the left-hander. Fortunately, there was a straight-on option – which I took!


Before we left the city, we took the opportunity to roar around as much of the circuit as possible. It’s very short and tight and heaving the Hillman round at speed would have been testing. I’d had to patch up a bit of the silencer before we left England but the repair hadn’t lasted which made our lap a bit of a head-turner.

Grand Tour

The following day, we positioned ourselves in the small town of Aubeterre in order to catch the procession of classic and vintage vehicles passing through. We got the timing a bit wrong so decided we’d go on to Chalais where the vehicles had gathered for lunch. When we got there, we were ushered in to the parking especially reserved for the top cars. I wasn’t about to disabuse anyone of their notions regarding our status and happily joined the tour which took us back through cheering crowds to Aubeterre.

Two things which made distinct impressions on The Ambassador’s Daughter and me were firstly, the quality of the French roads which must be the best in the world – silent, smooth and largely empty – and secondly, the enthusiasm and delight the French – old and young – have for vintage cars. Passing through tiny villages in the middle of nowhere, old folk would rise from their seats, clap and call ‘Bravo!’ Where we parked, we found it hard to get away, such was people’s interest. It was all very heart-warming and we never for a moment thought twice about leaving the car unattended for the day in a car park or a back street – we knew it would be safe.

The Pits

Sunday was the big day and the practicing started early. It was exciting stuff and the competitors were not behind the door considering the nature of the circuit. There were a couple of prangs and a few cars probably went home with less bodywork than they started with but I can only imagine that a good time was had by all.


Inevitably, there was a good showing of Bugatti’s but, come to think of it, I’d never seen so many Renault Alpine’s in one place either.

Jowett Jupiter

The sole representative of the Jowett marque was parked in one of the main squares in the town. It looked very original and well used. I would have liked to have seen under the bonnet but the owner wasn’t in evidence. But all this fun had to come to an end and on Monday morning we set off back to England. Once again, our hosts for the two stops we made were charming, accommodating and we ate very well.

Wednesday morning

The first sign of any inclement weather for the whole of our time in France came on Wednesday morning. We’d stayed at a small manoir about 50 miles South of Rouen and fortunately, the owners had made available a small motor house for the car overnight….

Manoir de Bouvry

… so the car was dry to start our dash to Calais for the 1.20pm train. It was a bit of a long haul but the car is comfortable and despite the wind, noise and the horrendous traffic in England ….


… the 9 hour trip back to Suffolk wasn’t at all onerous.

So, both sadly and happily, that really winds up this particular adventure and I was expecting to settle down to a moment’s peace and quiet but …

The next project

… hello, what’s this turned up in my workshop?




13 comments on “The Reason Why.

  1. Yes, indeed what is it? Please!

  2. Patience dear boy; all will be revealed in the fullness of time! (How irritating is that?!)
    We’ve really thoroughly enjoyed our trip to your wonderful country. As always, France delivers! Thanks again for your support and interest Renaud; it’s been great having you along. Watch this space on the mystery car!

  3. Sue Wilson says:

    Good to read an account of the tour and see such fabulous cars! Glad the driving all went well; I hope your birthday did too? I better write a cheque and settle my debt for making the round trip without the AA or equivalent!

    What exactly is that heap of iron in the workshop?

  4. Hello Sue,

    Thanks for your input. The heap of iron in the workshop is a ……..

  5. Richard Graham says:

    Hi Nigel,
    I have followed your ‘journey’ from go to whoa with great interest – being a Wolseley enthusiast, and owning a 6/80 with the (almost) same engine. Your commentary and photographs have been brilliant, and I am looking forward to watching your ‘new project’ with great interest!
    Congratulations of a fantastic job well done!
    Richard Graham, Secretary of the Wolseley Car Club, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

    • Thank you Richard. I fondly imagine that as winter draws on, sitting by the fire with my sketch book in the evenings and working up schemes for the new project will occupy my time. Of course, the reality is that it’ll be so blinkin’ cold I’ll hardly be able to hold the pencil! C’est la vie.

  6. Ian Macfarlane says:

    I just wanted to drop you a quick note to congratulate you on finishing the Hillman and completing what looks to have been a most enjoyable trip to France. It is certainly a fine looking vintage car and the finished article is a credit to you.

    I discovered your blog after reading an article in the Hillman Register Newsletter and I’ve been an avid follower for the last couple of years! I have an interest in a Hillman 14 saloon and I also build Riley specials so we have a bit in common!

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your blog and style of writing. It was always a delight when it landed in my inbox. I hope it continues with the next project (I spy lots of Riley bits in that last picture!)

    Ian Macfarlane

    • Hello Ian, Thank you for your kind remarks and thank you for staying the course. Well spotted on the Riley bits; they’re a motley collection and will need quite a lot of attention to even get the job back on wheels but, as you know, that’s what we like most!

  7. Sally Ball says:

    Fabulous record of your trip. I too have thoroughly enjoyed reading all about it and seeing the great photos. So happy it went so well. What a superb adventure!

  8. Ritchie says:

    Miss X?

  9. asciimation says:

    I need to get going or you’ll be finished your third one before I even finish my first!

    Large shipment of parts due from the UK soon. That should get me motivated on getting the engine done.

    Is your new one a single seater?


  10. There’s nothing like a big box of bits to get you going again. Yes, the new project is a single-seater and is going to take me a bit of time so you could get in ahead!

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