Event: Chatsworth Picnic

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Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

The meet today started life at 7.45am in Sheffield. It’s already in full swing by the time I arrive, several of the club members being ably propped up by Costa Coffee’s finest morning mocha-choca-wotta-lotta-brew. I think I’ll join them.

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Cars Parked and ready to go!

Beverage in hand, I meet Adam for a morning hello and scan today’s splendidness. We’ve got many of the regulars here today and a few new faces, including a lovely Audi R8 Spyder in a fantastic electric blue colour. Also in the blue corner is a modified Nissan 350z. A new 997.2 GT3 contrasts in radiant red. Happy days indeed.

An unusual car is catching a lot of attention today is Ryan’s wacky GTM Libra. These cars, largely self-build and for the motoring enthusiast handy with spanners is a real spectacle and generates a lot of interest.

As several more cars arrive, we are just waiting for Chris – he’s coming along in his Noble M12. As a daily driver clocking up more than 80,000 miles, stone chips had taken their toll turning the front splitter almost white from its original dark green colour. The M12 completed a full respray only a few days ago and we are keen to see the result. This model has the M400 ECU upgrade and is now pushing out 355 galloping stallions with a frightfully quick 0-60 of 3.6 seconds. This power is ably demonstrated later in the day, showing the Nissan GTR a clean pair of heels! 😮

He arrives momentarily, turbos spooling and wiz-bang-popping, formally announcing the Noble’s attendance. The new paint job looks great and brings the car curb-appeal back to as-new fresh. There can’t be many Nobles that have seen such high mileage – a testament to the build quality of these fiery race-like cars. Chris is very happy with the finish and as a newbie of the SUPERCARdriver club is looking forward to the drive out this morning.

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

SUPERCARdriver has a professional photographer today called Dominic Fisher (DFishPix) and throughout the day could be seen laid in the undergrowth and hanging from trees to get the best possible shot of the cars as we drive from point to point.

Onward to the Fox pub where we are treated to bacon sarnies, more coffee and a little light conversation. Adam is buzzing around, fleeting in one direction and another organising the day, taking photos, greeting all the owners, sorting out others who are lost and generally doing a good job of keeping the wheels greased for today’s outing.

Its here I catch up with Paul – a network engineer from Nottingham. Paul is part of the furniture at these meets and one of our regular enthusiastic members. He has attended previous meets with his BMW M5, but has recently traded for a silver Ferrari 360 Spyder. After an initial battery problem the car is now running lovely.

I asked him about power. “The M5 feels faster” he recalls “but the power delivery is different – and the Ferrari is lighter. You drive them both differently”. Paul is no junior to the fast car world, having previously owned an RS4. “I loved that car, you could throw so much in the boot and use it every day for work!”.

The silver Ferrari looks great, he chose the colour having heard too many bad things about the traditional red convertible getting abuse from passers by. “This is more understated” he says.

The exhaust makes up for the 360’s subtle paint job. With 400bhp mated to a Tubi exhaust the car tunefully sings its soundtrack on top volume wherever it goes, burbling along on the over-run. As the lead car for the drive today, it announced our convoy was coming to town from miles around.

Cayman on the country lanes - Photo by Dom Fisher

Cayman on the country lanes - Photo by Dom Fisher

As we set off on the run through the Peak District I hand over my printed directions to the lead car as the navigator isn’t sure of the way. I’m assured that I’ll be able to keep track with the rest of the group as we’ll be in convoy. We embark on the next part of the journey and 5 minutes later, I’m lost.

Within a few minutes my view has gone from being BMW 645 and red Ferrari 550 to now being twixed a grey Vauxhall Mariva and a Vectra. Not the most exciting automotive visual stimulation it has to be said. After a redirect from Adam, I find my way to the back of the convoy and we depart along the country roads, heading to Chatsworth house for our next meeting point.

I’m back behind the Ferrari 550. The group now divided, its just me and the Fez. As we pass a pub on a sharp bend, the customers outside stop dead in their tracks to view as we cost round the camber and press on through the straights. The 550 isn’t really pushing it though, just cruising along. There is something hypnotically serene when staring at the prancing horse in front. If Ferrari is happy cruising, then I’m happy cruising.

Up ahead, we are met with road works and catch up to the rest of the team. The council once again using their budget road surfacing methods; apply industrial glue, sprinkle with crushed stones and a dash of tarmac; allow traffic to bed the stones to the glue. As the loose stones fly everywhere, even at walking pace, splashes of the black stuff flew up the side of the brand new red GT3 as we all crawled past the tarmac pressing machine. Hopefully Autogylm’s finest tar remover will sort this out.

The convoy arrives at Chatsworth house in the early afternoon and we are directed to a car park just outside of the main venue. With a few cars missing from the convoy the remainder pull up for more chat about the days outing and an ice cream or two. The weather is turning out lovely and Dan has arrived in his Aston Martin.

Dan has a V12 DB9, in unmarked light blue it’s his weekend only pride and joy. Covering only a few thousand miles it looks – and sounds – like an Aston Martin should do. Dan is one of the young ‘uns at SUPERCARdriver and like Paul with the 360, he is a network engineer. Sheer determination and hard graft allowed him to purchase this splendid car several years ago. Cars are his hobby and to prove it he’s just bought a Volvo T5-R! “I saw it, and couldn’t help myself” he laughs. We’ll look forward to seeing that at a future meet!

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

The final stage of the day is a private picnic set in the gorgeous forests of the peak district. The roads are long and meander through the peaks, allowing a little fun in our cars on the bends. The traffic is light. With spectacular views on all sides, Wales is just peeking into view from across the horizon. We approach our meeting point – farmland settled intricately in the forest of the Peaks. We cruise along a narrow country lane and shortly arrive at our host’s residency – a beautiful farmhouse with several outbuildings and a garage full of automotive memorabilia.

Parked up next to one of the paddocks is the silver Ultima and looking as striking as ever. We park our cars on the main field next to numerous other clubs who have been invited to the picnic. Porsche Club GB is here, as are Morgan and the classic car & bike club. The older cars are fascinating. One car owner is offering passenger demonstrations in his three-wheeler Bugatti race car. The engine is entirely exposed and mounted at the very front of the car. Inside the cabin there is… well, pretty much nothing. Not even a seat! You even sit on the centre beam which travels through the car. The owner has plushed his model with finest blanket in an attempt to keep his passengers a little more comfortable.

As the demonstrations continue, the noise is classic, old-school motoring. Loud, brash and always entertaining.  Picnic and conversation ensues for a few hours and shortly before we head home, prizes are awarded by the farm owner for the best turned out car and the ‘car we’d most like to own’.

With an extended invite to next year’s picnic we’ll be sure to make this the main event of the day so that everyone can attend and experience the wide variety of cars and generous hospitality of our hosts.

Hope to see you there!

July 2010