Classic pre-war car rally powers through Yorkshire

Pictured is Bowcliffe Hall owner, Jonathan Taylor, left, celebrating Benjafield’s Racing Club’s pre-war car rally with competition secretary, William Medcalf


A thrilling once-in-a-lifetime rally of 40 classic pre-war cars with an average value of nearly £1 million has taken to the roads of West and North Yorkshire.  

The Yorkshire Buccaneer saw vehicles converge on start point, Bowcliffe Hall, just outside Leeds, from across the UK and Europe. The event was named after former owner of the hall, Yorkshire aviation pioneer, Robert Blackburn, whose most famous plane was the Blackburn Buccaneer, which last flew in anger during the first Gulf war. 

Fittingly, the cars were led out by the hall’s current owner, entrepreneur, Jonathan Turner, in his 1925 3-litre Bentley, which competed at Le Mans that year – and which he subsequently raced in the 2016 Le Mans Classic.  

Some 25 classic Bentleys were among the runners and other iconographic pre-war marques, such as the 8C Alfa Romeo. Sunbeam Supersports, Austin 7 Special, Riley 12/4 and Ford Falcon, also competed – some from as far afield as Spain, Slovenia, Ireland, Belgium, Holland and Germany. 

The competitors followed Jonathan on to three high speed gravel sections at Bramham Park, then to RAF Church Fenton for auto and brake tests. From there, the cars travelled to the former air base at Tockwith to complete circuits and brave a skid pan. The competitors also had to compete in a blindfold auto test before lunch on The Blackburn Wing at Bowcliffe Hall. 

They then returned to Bramham Park for three more special stages before completing the rally with competitively timed runs at Harewood Hill Climb in the afternoon. 

Jonathan Turner said: “The organiser, Benjafield’s Racing Club shares my passion for celebrating pre-war motorsport and classic engineering and designs. Given Yorkshire’s importance in the march of technological development from the industrial revolution onwards especially in relation to early aviation, it was an appropriate venue to demonstrate how well these amazing vehicles all still run.” 

Organisational support for the event was provided by Ilkley and District Motor Club who had over 40 marshals at the event to ensure the day ran smoothly.


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