Unsung Heroes
Unsung HeroesModern pavement and winter conditions? Nothing of a hurdle for a pre war classic. In comes the 100 Miles of Amsterdam.

People have the habit of laying up their classic cars for winter. Putting them up in warm dry stables, like their noble four legged forbearers used to be.  Our authorities usually try to keep our roads safe in winter by de-icing them with tons of salt. Something most of our cherished classics don’t really agree with very well. However the last few years the 100 Miles of Amsterdam are being rallied in the midst of winter, in December. A rally with departure in Haarlem and finishing near Oud Zuilen. Within the 160 kilometers dividing start and finish the rally visits Amsterdam, leading the pre war beauties through the arches of the world famous ‘Rijksmuseum’ amongst others.

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes

And yes, I did say ‘pre war’. We’re not talking relatively comfy post war classics, but true vintage pre war automobiles. Mostly open tourers, not always fitted with sufficiently water tight hoods. Besides that, drivers and passengers are open to temperatures close to freezing point. And they’re not just the young of heart driving these vintage machines through the cold and rain. No, there are plenty of youngsters  facing the elements as well. And don’t even think about commenting on the hardships they encounter, their reaction will always be denial. They’re used to it, it’s all a question of the right preparation. So that’s what they all do, prepare themselves. The cars are thoroughly checked, the necessary spare parts are at hand, there is plenty of lubricant and all clothing is adapted to the foul weather. In this case wool caps, beefy jackets and lined pants should do the trick. Combined with the necessary rain gear of course. This is serious preparation.

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes

A typical car to ask the maximum in resilience from its inhabitants is the Austin Seven owned by Mijatovic and co-driver Rob Janzen. A car that immediately stands out by it midget size amongst the larger Ford’s, Bugatti’s, Salmson’s, Vauxhall’s, Aston Martins, Armstrong Siddeley’s and so on. The little green Austin is in ship shape, providing reliable service from the little engine that could. No modern alterations or upgraded cooling system, no plain and simply original. Be sure a little Austin like this manages to live up to the expectations. This very example here did reach second place in class in the 1931 1000 Miglia. We bow our flat capped head for such heritage. The Seven’s inhabitants used a 42 point to do list to prepare for this rally. Thus racing effortlessly to a very nice third place in the Pre War Sports class. Even though the Seven doubled as some kind of bath tub gathering the immense amounts of rain, a condition that assured pour sight as well.

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes

The large market square in Haarlem is the place of departure for the rally. The entire afternoon the public is welcome to potter around in between the pre war racers. The atmosphere is loose, competitors perform their final checks, and he organisation runs a final technical scrutiny. Although it is cold, the weather is still dry. That will change later on the evening, when torrential rains will haunt the drivers. Before that, the giant Christmas tree on the square is the decor for one big party. After a hearty dinner in one of the restaurants in the vicinity one by one the equipes are sent on the road as soon as the bell tower has chimed six. Accompanied by the sometimes hilarious but always informative comments of the gentlemen speakers on duty the cars disappear in the cold black night. Most of them survive the elements without any hustle, reappearing 100 miles later in the picturesque setting of Haarzuilen. Time to relax and tell the tale, the misery is over, the adventure lived. Preparations for the next event lurking. These pre war cars are used to live an adventurous life.
Robbert Moree

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes