Cruising with a roar

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Rye’s ancient streets resounded to the roar (and fumes) from some noisy engines last Sunday as classic cars cruised through the town on their way to the prize-giving in the station car park.

Cars cruising down the High Street included a surprisingly large selection of 1940’s and 50’s American tinware. Some, of indeterminate origin, had been turned into hot rods, with their engines upgraded – or replaced altogether with something much larger with beefed up suspension and wheels that would not look out of place on a Formula One car.

All were beautifully presented with, in most cases, even the engines polished to perfection – and woe betide a single drop of oil that might dare to spoil the finish.

Other Americans included an over-sized Studebaker (we think) with suspension that would be better suited to a trampoline, like most US cars, and another, an immaculate open top tourer whose make we are not sure of, but which would have been perfect for Bonny and Clyde, even more than the two bonny ladies who were driving it.

Of the British-made cars, a Ford Zephyr caught our eye. Its full-width bench seat in the front was not only a favourite with courting couples of that era, but necessitated a steering column gear change that was so vague that moving from one gear to another was pure guesswork.

A Vauxhall was another evoking memories from our youth and all came from that period of British car building when mass production was starting in earnest after the shortages following WW2 and the notorious 1970s that were the nadir of the British motor industry and so nearly sounded its death knell.

But we must not forget the wonderful Citroen H van. With its corrugated body panels, underpowered engine, crash gearbox and non existent brakes, these vehicles were ubiquitous in France in the 60s and 70s ; and it was good to see this one, looking fresh out of the factory and proudly flying the Tricolour in deference to the recent awful events in Paris.

At the station they were met by Deputy Mayor, Cllr Jonathan Breeds, assisted by Cllr Mike Boyd, for the prizegiving before dispersing noisily.

Traffic was again disrupted, as it was the day before, with road closures around the station area to enable the classic car cruise followed by the assembly in the car park.

However traffic through the town was not affected as much as it was for Saturday’s Bonfire Night procession and bonfire which, as in previous years, closed the A259 across the Salts and round the Undercliff, and also shut the Ferry Road (B2089) for a while.

That closure, which would have involved East Sussex County Council as the highways authority, had resulted in large notices posted inside the town centre for some days – so hopefully most people were aware of it.

Photos: Kenneth Bird

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