On Sunday December 18th we saw the start of the seventh 100 Miles of Amsterdam. The very first night rally for pre-war automobiles here in the low lands.

You’ve got tough blokes and you’ve got really really tough blokes. The really really ones get out in the middle of December, when Christmas is nigh, to drive from Haarlem through Amsterdam to Oud Zuilen near Utrecht. The 100 Miles of Amsterdam is a wintery night rally, meaning darkness, freezing temperatures and slippery roads. And of course really really tough blokes don’t use luxury vehicles to do so, the bring their genuine pre-war classics. Martin Philippo reports.

We won’t be joining the rally, we will just be visiting the Grote Markt in Haarlem, where the competitors assemble and the cars undergo their scrutineering. We all know rallying a hundred miles in an ancient vehicle ain’t no daily drive for most. Under the all seeing eye of Laurens Janszoon Coster, inventor of book print according to the Dutch, the central square of the province capital slowly fills up with pre-war cars. Loud bangs emerge from the small streets surrounding the square. The shopping crowd stops and gathers around the square. Over fifty cars find a spot on the Grote Markt.

Most competitors come from The Netherlands, but we do spot a few Brits and a German car. There even is a delegation from Ireland, that gets our special attention, since my spouse is from the same country. It doesn’t take long to get into a conversation with the Irish drivers. That’s just the way they are, never short of topics to talk about. Here we have Andrew and Philippa with their 1938 Triumph Dolomite. The purchased the car only recently, but they have attended quite a few of these events. Most of them in Ireland, but in Britain as well. A proud Irish flag is being put up at the rear of the car. We also meet Diarmaid and Andrew Boland, who both came to Holland in their respective Talbots.

Because the brother’s accent sounds strangely familiar, we ask about their exact whereabouts. New Ross? Than you must be the Boland bros of the Ford garage on Waterford road! My wife is from the same town of New Ross, which again proves the world to be a really small place. The Boland brothers like to participate in events like this, they even tried to do Paris-Beijing, which they sadly had to end half way because of technical worries. With this years 100 Miles being really close to Christmas, all Irish cars have been brought over on a trailer. Unlike most years, when they do travel the entire journey in their classics. That’s the real adventure.

We leave our new Irish friends to their preparation work. Starting numbers are being stuck to the sides, rally shields attached to the bumpers. The 100 Miles of Amsterdam is a serious rally, with checkpoints at unexpected places and a true sporty element. The cars have already been prepared, the inner men will be taken care of soon and after that the entire company will take of into the dark night, only to reappear at their final destination around midnight. The drivers and their navigators are in for a cold but fascinating ride. After all, it can’t be all that warm inside these open pre-war vehicles. But of course, really really tough blokes don’t really mind about that!
Martin Philippo