EventsTheToms

A Tootle along the South Downs

EventsTheToms
A Tootle along the South Downs

First thing on a sleepy Sunday morning, we check the weather. It’s dry for now. Roof down on the MGB, we make our way to the biker's cafe at the top of Bury Hill. It’s the start of the annual classic MG run across Sussex.

Words -Tom Aiton // Photography - Tom Duke & Tom Aiton

 
 

So if you haven’t noticed, MGs are rather popular in Britain. With 200 cars participating, there was lots to look at. Every car was immaculately turned out. There was a good variety of ages too, from the early TCs through to the MGF. We collected our route guide from the organisers along with our plaque and a couple of cable ties. We fitted the plaque to the bumper before drifting over to a bacon bap and a coffee. After a bit of a fumble we managed to reset the odometer and set off.

We met with half a dozen cars through Fittleworth before following a Sprite on to the leafy lanes that lay ahead. Progress on the route was easy and relaxed, a scene of English heritage snaking through the woods of West Sussex. We found some boiled sweets in the glove box to complete the picture. 

I think Tom D’s lack of coffee was the culprit of a few turnings missed (sorry Tom). For every instruction on the sheet was an odometer reading that should match up with our mileage. After missing a turning near Adversane we calculated that we needed another 3.2 miles on the clock to match things up. We peeled off down a lane in Washington for 1.6 miles and came back to find that success! - the next odometer reading matched perfectly with ours. We trundled on. We were getting the hang of this classic car rally malarkey. 

For the rest of the journey we found ourselves on some of our favourite roads in Sussex. It was nice to go slow and enjoy the view, especially when accompanied by a few nice classics, but we were itching to stretch the legs of the B on the run. In a group of about six cars, we split off down the [ahem..] correct route into another quiet stretch of open tarmac. The beauty in the B is that once it’s properly warm the revs just want to climb. The throttle response feels quicker and slotting between gears is a guilty pleasure. The faster progress incurred a few more missed junctions. Still we trundled on. 

On the road to Birling Gap (if you haven’t driven this road yet I thoroughly recommend it - maybe grab an ice cream), we were behind my neighbour David in his gorgeous cream TC. Winding our way along the cliffs we became a scene from a novel. Tom wouldn’t wear the headscarf. Down the hill and into Eastbourne we were met with the Grand Hotel. A magnificent white building that graces the lawns along the traditional seafront. We parked up amongst a host of earlier drivers. A jazz band accompanied the cheesy chips and sounds of the sea.

The most staggering thing about our morning was the feeling that we had participated in something that had been happening for years. A jaunt through lanes in a marque that has served this nation without fail. Yes it would be nice to go for a bit more of a blast, but taking it easy and indulging in the finer details of the road and the feel of the car is, as it turns out, the proper way to own an MG.