This year’s Oily Rag Run, the third of an annual series promoted by The Automobile magazine (www.theautomobile.co.uk), was the most successful yet. Fifty ancient cars in varying stages of decrepitude descended on the sleepy north-east Essex village of Great Easton, some 45 miles from London, where Paul and Andrew Wood, proprietors of the eponymous Rolls-Royce dealership of worldwide fame, had bravely opened their immaculate showrooms and workshops to these alien invaders.
Practically the whole of the extended Wood family, plus several employees, had responded to locally-based historian David Burgess-Wise’s request to serve as the focus for the Run, offering, tea, coffee and home-made refreshments to participants and hangers-on throughout the day.
Paul Wood’s own collection was on display, in addition to many tens of millions of pounds’ worth of customer cars and a number of perfectly restored Rolls-Royces of all ages lined up for sale. These included the ex-Stanley Sears 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, currently on offer with very low miles and its original coachwork by Charles Clark of Wolverhampton. The interior has to be seen to be believed, a Louis XV fantasy, all gilt and gingerbread, commissioned originally by one of the co-founders of Woolworths.
Award winners included specialist wheeler dealer Neil Tuckett with his rusty but complete and totally original 1924 English-built Model T (Most Feral Car); Dutchmen Henk Afink and Ernst Jan Krudop who set out to drive all the way from eastern Holland in their 1920s Morgan Aero three-wheelers, only to have one of them break a crankshaft en route (Most Travelled); and L Dean, driving Tom Fryars’s 1914 Crossley RFC light tender which came complete with contemporary ordnance (Car We Would Most Like to Take Home). A special award went to Ron Mellowship, who finished the course, believe it or not, in his ultra-mature 1896 Bergmann Orient Express dogcart.
- Jonathan Rishton