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Beaulieu Autojumble
Saturday 13th September 2008

The big date on the calendar in mid-September arrives. Time to head 'down south' to the picturesque New Forest near Southampton to the huge Beaulieu Autojumble for historic vehicles and the nearby Netley Marsh motorcycle Euro Jumble. That's an awful lot of vintage motorcycle parts to mooch through over one weekend. Ominously, Friday is a black-skied, rain-soaked day as we head towards Hampshire.

Unfortunately this year I've only got the one day to spare and it's to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu's estate that we head. The road passes through the New Forest; indifferent New Forest ponies watching the steady stream of cars making their way to the huge, well-organised car park.


The sun is out today, thankfully, but the recent rain has left parts of the jumble resembling a mud bath; and where its not, its ruddy slippery underfoot. The size of Beaulieu's autojumble is pretty much over-whelming. You need to approach it with the precision of a military campaign if you want to see all there is on offer. And what it does offer is a fascinating array of motoring goodies from veteran to classic, spread over some 4 or 5 fields. A tour of the fields is practically a history lesson in in itself, commencing with the De Dion et Bouton stall - not something you find at your local autojumble! There's also a good deal of flea market ephemera. It keeps the better half interested - not always a necessity with the good Mrs Sidevalve who inherits the genes of her father who kept Spitfires aloft at Biggin Hill and went on to tool-setting for the Villiers works, Wolverhampton.


Beaulieu is also home of the National Motor Museum, which means there is a visitors' restaurant / cafe with a good choice of nosh for our lunchtime 'fuel-stop' and to set us up for further tramping around all those fields. We went for the chilli and rice - more Thai sweet chilli sauce than savoury Mexican but edible none-the-less. We were amused by listening to the staff trying to organise who does what and when as they sought to cope with the hundreds of hungry jumblers passing through. Full marks to them.

To add to the day's interest there's a Bonham's auction and sale of historic cars ... items for all pockets. A spare £85,750 will buy you a 'Roller' in tip top condition.


Alternatively, if you fancy a good 'before' photo for your restoration, there's the rusty remains of a Rolls Royce (I think?!) looking in need of TLC. Its condition arouses a great deal attention - the romance of a barn find and the story of a forgotten vehicle. Its abandonment somehow links the present with the past of a bygone era when it was last parked away. In some ways, a shame to restore it.

Personal nostalgia is evoked by a battery-driven 'Antique Car' with head lights and 'mystery action'. Reliving the experience of chasing it around the living room floor on Christmas morning will knock me back £125. One for another day, I think. 

Amongst the predominantly car-orientated stalls there are a number of motorcycle dealers and some tempting Sunbeams are in evidence amongst their wares. Top asking price was for a 500cc Longstroke of c.1926 at £10,000. Restoration had given it some interesting oil lines and a straight pipe exhaust taken under the engine to the near-side. It definitely looked the epitome of the sporting, flat tank, side-valve 'Beam replete with steering and fork dampers. A Wolverhampton registration added to the appeal (two photos below).


Around the corner was an un-restored 350cc side-valve of 1927 or '28. Looking more-or-less correct with its protective, valanced front 'guard and rear carrier - but lacking rear chain-case and, more crucially, its magneto. The price was still around half that of the restored 500cc model (photo below).


As we were photographing and ogling the 'Beams our concentration is disturbed - quite dramatically, too. It is the Dutch contingent from 'Yesterdays' started up a multi-cylinder aero engine on their stall; an event advertised to take place at various times throughout the weekend. What a fabulous sound! And, it certainly attracted the masses, making a photograph impossible.

Wandering on, an early clip-on Motosacoche machine catches our eye. Was this the sort of engine John Marston had his eye on when he conducted experiments with an early Motosacoche before he dropped the idea after a factory fatality? The jockey pulley arrangement (wrapping the belt around the engine pulley) looks very much like the early Stevens' machine produced in Wolverhampton in 1899. Whatever its provenance or authenticity the machine is an intriguing 'bitza'. A lovely curiosity for the back of the shed (photo below).


Tucked away at one of the stalls in the jumble's far field is a lovely, well-restored Lion of c.1932. Its tax disk indicates it was last used on the road in 1994. It looks pretty-much straight out of the catalogue, complete with lights and ready to fire up. And, all at a very sensible asking price I recall, although the figure now escapes me (two photos below).


Amongst the day's 'Beams is a well-known machine for those who may have visited Wolverhampton's Art Gallery and Museum in the 1990s. UK 8475 is the factory-registered Longstroke owned for many years by Walter Edge, the inaugural chairman of the Wolverhampton and North Birmingham Section of the UK's Vintage Motor Cycle Club. This machine left Yesterdays' stall, making its way back to a Wolverhampton home! It started up with a cloud of oily smoke and, with a surprisingly higher state of tune compared to 1930s' side-valves, was ridden back to the car park. Huge grin, no crash hat. Superb!


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