Andrew NoakesBy Andrew Noakes
Editor, gomw.co.uk

The 17th Guild EuroClassic took place in Normandy from 7 June to 10 June. 

And finally...

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A word about our partners who made the 2018 Guild EuroClassic such a success:

DFDS Seaways for providing the channel crossings between Newhaven and Dieppe that made the event possible

Michelin for their excellent maps of Normandy

Veloce Publishing for providing copies of Julian Parish's book The Essential Guide to Driving in Europe

the staff of the Forges Hotel in Forges-les-Eaux where we were based

and the Guild members without whose efforts the event could not have happened: John Griffiths (and wife Peggy) who spent three days in France researching the driving routes and putting together the road book, and EuroClassic organisers Peter Burgess and Julian Parish who put an enormous amount of effort into planning, preparing and delivering a superb event.

Thank you to them all!

Sunday 9.20am

A V8-engined Triumph TR7 burbles past the hotel as we pack for the final time, ready for the journey back to Dieppe and then the DFDS ferry home.

Paul Buckett's been fixing a smal hydraulic leak on his DS, and dispensing fascinating facts at the same time. If you take the hydraulic valves apart and warm the internals in your hand, he says, they won't fit back together – because the tolerances they are machined to are so fine. The machine tooling for some of the hydraulics must have been sourced in the UK or US because, even though it is a French car, valve dimensions are in inches!

Saturday 2.45pm

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Martyn Morgan Jones' very tidy Porsche 944 Turbo leads the line-up of cars at our final stop, the Bois de Moutiers which features a house created by the famous English architect Edwin Lutyens and grounds laid out by the equally illustrious garden designer Gertude Jekyll. Some of us take a guided tour of the house, while others opt to wander around the gardens, which have the biggest rhododendrons most of us have ever seen. 

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Saturday 12.15pm

There's a parachute club at Dieppe-St Aubin airfield, and as we head north from Val Ygot two of its members are drifting gently into a nearby field with nothing but fresh air and ripstop nylon for support. Lunch is at the Piment Bleu on the D75 at Varengeville-sur-Mer, which has a shop selling local arts and crafts as well as serving an excellent apple and walnut tart.

Saturday 10.05am

John Colley Ferrari F355 GTS

Wouldn't be a Guild EuroClassic without a Ferrari playing up, and John Colley's F355GTS is suffering from a high idle speed. Crud in the mass air flow sensor seems to be the culprit, and John soon has it cleaned out to get the Ferrari back on the road.

There's a surprise extra stop on the morning's run, at Val Ygot. Here, on the quiet D99 between Pommeréval and Bellencombre, lies one of 400 launch sites for the Nazi V1 and V2 rockets in World War 2. Val Ygot launched V1s, which were fired along an inclined ramp by a mixure of hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate, which generated enough force to accelerate the two-tonne rocket to nearly 100mph in just 42 metres. After that the on-board ramjet took over for the flight to Britain. At Val Ygot the launch ramp has been restored and there's a V1 rocket on display, alongside preserved buildings and installations. It's a poignant reminder of the remarkable techology and industry that was expended on the war, by both sides.

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Saturday 8.58am

Crews are assembling for today's programme of events. First a scenic drive north through Pays de Bray and Forêt d'Eawy to Le Piment Bleu at Varengeville for lunch. Then a visit to the gardens and park at Le Bois des Moutiers this afternoon. It's a grey start but we're hoping rain stays away.

Friday 4.15pm

GOMW Harrington Alpine

Last stop of the day is at Château Gaillard, a fortress built by Richard the Lionheart on the banks of the Seine. The sun has broken through now and it's a scorching afternoon, so the climb on foot to the chateau is a hot one - but the views over the river are worth the effort.

Another 30-mile run takes us back to Forges-les-Eaux. Matthew Carter's Alfa SZ passes a perspiring jogger, who turns and looks back in disbelief at the brutal Zagato shape: clearly it's the first time he's encountered Il Mostro in the flesh. Back at base we're ready for this evening's Gala dinner.

Friday 12.30pm

Lunch in the town of Lyons-la-Forêt, where every building seems to be of a different style and every other one seems to be a café. On the way we seem to pass through the village of Rappel several times.

In the courtyard of one hotel just off the main square there's a tidy 1930s Peugeot, complete with characteristically French yellow headlamps:

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Friday 10am

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After a 27-mile run in the early morning mist through gorgeous Normandy countryside and lots of interesting little villages - and one or two wrong turns - we arrive at the château and gather everyone for a group picture.

It's a fascinating place, and we have a guided tour to explain it all. An archive picture on display reveals the cars the owners drove during the 1960s – a Renault Dauphine and a BMW 507. Some of us content ourselves with a walk in the formal garden and a look inside the enormous brick-built dovecote, while others tackle the 107 steps leading to the top of the 12th century octagonal tower where Jeremy Clarke captured this unusual view of the EuroClassic cars:

GOMW Citroen Mercedes

GOMW chateau

GOMW Alfa SZ Jaguar Rolls-Royce Citroen Mercedes BMW Porsche

Friday 8.45am

GOMW Peter Burgess Julian Parish

EuroClassic participants assemble in the hotel car park for a briefing on the day's programme from organisers Julian Parish (left) and Peter Burgess (red shirt, right) before it's time to hit the road to Château Vascoeuil.

On the way our convoy passes by roadworks at Mesangueville, where workmen interrupt their vital task of leaning on shovels to gawp at the passing classics.

Friday 7am

Breakfast on day two, where one of us points out that for the individual teapots provided, one teabag is enough - only to be told 'no, one egg is un oeuf'.

The weather is looking good (though there are forecasts of isolated thunderstorms this afternoon):

 

Thursday 9.33pm

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EuroClassic participants have been reflecting on day one over a buffet dinner at the Forges Hotel and looking forward to tomorrow's programme, outlined by co-organiser Julian Parish (above). There are scenic drives to two châteaux lined up, plus a lunch stop at the beautiful 17th century town of Lyons-la-Forêt. A bientôt!

Thursday 7.48pm

Jeremy Clarke turns his back on his TR6 for a moment to admire a line-up of fine Guild EuroClassic machinery:

Thursday 5.35pm

Matthew Carter snaps his Alfa Romeo SZ alongside another Italian classic, John Colley's Ferrari 355GTS:

Thursday 5pm

Guild of Motoring Writers Martin Derrick Bentley Azure

Martin Derrick's Bentley Azure rolls onto the Forges hotel forecourt and that's all 22 cars accounted for. Co-organiser Julian Parish gives out the last welcome pack – which includes a copy the latest edition of his Veloce book, The Essential Guide to Driving in Europe, and chats to Soheila and William Kimberley about the town of Forges les Eaux and this evening's dinner.

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Thursday 4pm

Guild of Motoring Writers EuroClassic route book

After what the route book says is 38.6 miles – plus one or two navigational SNAFUs for those of us not paying attention, so call it 40 – we get our first look at our base for the next three days. The Forges Hotel in Forges les Eaux looks out over gardens, pools and a golf course, and there's a casino next door to tidy up any spare Euros we might be left with.

While some of us enjoy the gardens and others head for the pool, in the hotel car park Volkswagen's Paul Buckett has his head under the bonnet of his Citroën DS20 Break. "I had a spark plug pop out on the M25 and I wanted to check the other three," he says. He'll be done by dinner, no doubt.

Guild of Motoring Writers EuroClassic casino Forges les Eaux

GOMW Forges Hotel

Thursday 3.30pm

Our hotel is a 90-minute drive away, through verdant Normandy countryside. Quick stop en route to take on "l'essence" for Clive Harrington's Harrington Le Mans Alpine. "Now can I work the machine?" Clive muses, eyeing the pay-at-pump terminal. No problem!

Thursday 2.15pm

The Channel is millpond-smooth for the four-hour crossing, and when we arrive at Dieppe assembled hacks marvel at the manoeuvring skills the ferry captain displays to insert the massive vessel into the tight harbour.

As we hit French soil just after lunchtime there's good news: the sun's come out.

Thursday 1pm

Jeremy Clarke Instagrammed the view from his Triumph TR6 as he waited to board the ferry this morning. That's the Calibra V6 from Vauxhall's heritage fleet ahead in the hands of Jim and Annie Forrest:

 

Allons-y! All aboard #gomw #guildclassic

A post shared by Jeremy Clarke (@lawsonclarke) on

Thursday 8.52am

Thursday 7.15am

Guild of Motoring Writers EuroClassic rally plaque

Cars and drivers are arriving at Newhaven, where the Guild EuroClassic boards a DFDS ferry to Dieppe for the first leg of the trip. In pole position is the Porsche 964 cabrio of Guild member Ian Donaldson and wife Jean, who arrived good and early: "They had to open the port for us," says Ian.

Co-organiser Peter Burgess appears in his tidy Lotus Elan and hands out route books and rally plaques for the cars, and it's soon time to bid farewell to a chilly and overcast Newhaven.

Tuesday 4.10pm

andrewnoakes32by Andrew Noakes
Guild website administrator

This year's Guild Bring Your Own Vehicle Day on September 27 follows a fascinating route laid out by Dave Richards, starting at Bicester Heritage and taking in the scenic roads of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Plenty of interesting cars are expected – and at least one motorcycle. If you're coming along and we haven't included your vehicle below, tweet a pic to us @gomw_uk!

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Vauxhall Ventora – Dave Richards (@classiccardaily)

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BMW M3 – Andrew Noakes (@andrewnoakes

 

Coming along to Guild Big Day Out? Make sure you pack your notepad – because all four car manufacturers in attendance are bringing some of their latest models along. 

This will give you the opportunity of catching up with some recent road car reviews when you’re not taking to the track in your own car... yet more reason for professionals to attend the day.

Ford, Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi will all have models from their new car range available for road test, and there are a couple of fresh-to-the-fleet additions too.

The full new model test car list comprises:  

Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Focus ST

Kia Proceed

Nissan Juke Nismo

Nissan LEAF UK

Mitsubishi Outlander

The LEAF has been added to the list in the past few days and provides a great opportunity for Big Day Out attendees to drive the latest British-built version hot off the Sunderland production line.2013bigdayout copy copy

Its hot Juke Nismo sister car is also British-built, meaning there’s the opportunity to drive the greenest and most red-hot of models coming out of Nissan’s British plant right now…

And with both Ford Focus and Fiesta ST in attendance, why not try to drive all three hot hatches back-to-back for an impromptu quick triple test?

We’re determined to make Big Day Out as useful to all attendees as possible. With these new car test opportunities, it may just help you deliver that all-important first drive to your editor, making it a working day out as well as a fun one.

Full details will be available on the day, and the usual manufacturer test car insurance policies will apply. Drives will be first come, first served - if there's a car you're keen to drive, get in quick! 

There are just over two weeks to go until the Guild Big Day Out opens its doors at Rockingham. If you’re going, excitement should rightly be building for the Guild’s first social networking track day.

If you’re not, head over to guildbigdayout2013.eventbrite.co.uk quick to sign up...

The track day part, organised by Rockingham and Automotive PR, is the big draw. This is where you’ll get the chance to take your road-legal car onto the very same circuit BTCC drivers will be racing on just a few weeks later.

2013bigdayout copy copyIt’s not often you get to drive a track so close to a top-line race event; this is a great opportunity to get some insight before the BTCC boys go to work there.

It’s not just about taking your own car on track, though. Thanks to the support of four big car brands, there are lots of other attractions too.

Ford, Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi will all be there with a range of cars to either drive on track, take out onto a road route test drive, or simply sit back and enjoy high-speed passenger laps in.

Would you believe, there’s even a hog roast at lunch!

WORK

Need stories? There’s no shortage of opportunity. New cars there to test include the Ford Focus ST estate, Fiesta ST, Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Zetec S, Kuga and Mustang GT500. Kia will have the new Pro Cee’d. Nissan will have the new Juke Nismo. Mitsubishi will have the new Outlander. The road route will give you plenty of opportunity to put the miles in and generate useful road test copy.

PLEASURE

Taking your own car onto the circuit is great fun. You’ll be able to learn about its handling characteristics in safety, and enjoy its handling and performance away from the constraints (and speed limits) of public roads. When you’re not on track, you can chat with dozens of like-minded colleagues about all things automotive. A great day out indeed.

NETWORKING

Many top motoring journalists will be at the event. It’s your chance to meet and get to know them – if you’re new to the business, getting on the radar of such people is invaluable. For Guild members, it’s a rare opportunity to catch up with fellow journalists away from launches and motor shows…

BREAKTHROUGH JOURNALISTS

During the day, Guild Chairman Richard Aucock will be presenting the new and breakthrough Guild Awards portfolio. The organisation runs a range of awards for young and aspiring motoring journalists; come along to the day for advice on the best awards to enter, and a rundown of how to do so.

The Guild is indebted to Automotive PR for its assistance in supporting Big Day Out. Senor Account Manager Matt Sanger said: “Automotive PR has been a supporter of the Guild of Motoring Writers for many years, so naturally we wanted to help out as much as we could when we got a call asking about an event at Rockingham, one of our clients.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to organise it, so we hope the Guild’s Big Day Out is an event that becomes a regular fixture in the UK automotive calendar.

“We’re really looking forward to catching up with everyone on the day, and the only problem is that the whole of APR wants to attend!”

Excited? Fancy coming along? There’s still chance: visit guildbigdayout2013.eventbrite.co.uk and you can be signed up in minutes.

Given all that’s planned for the day, can you afford to miss out?

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