Footman James Sywell Classic: Pistons & Props

Date: 26 September, 2015

Location: Sywell Aerodrome, Hall Farm, Sywell, Northampton NN6 0BN

Legends from the road and skies dovetail in perfect harmony to make the Footman James Sywell Classic: Pistons and Props the rising star of the historic vehicle calendar.

And the third edition this autumn promises to be no less spectacular than the first two, according to classic car insurance broker and show sponsor Footman James.

Our top picks
- The Racing Runway: High-octane competition comes courtesy of motorcycles, hot rods and roughly 75 old racing vehicles. A Benetton (1992), Hesketh 308E (1977) and Jordan EJ12 (2002) are among the F1 treasures on this year’s starting grid line-up. The mile-long runway offers the exhilaration of a long straight with high-grip concrete and smooth surface together with the challenge of a hair-raising 180-degree hairpin bend.

- Sprint Strip: Classic motorbikes and hot rods will be strutting their stuff over straight sprints.

- High-flyers: Petrolheads at Sywell get more chance to turn their gaze skywards than at any other classic car festival. This because the show’s trademark Spitfires will be joined by a welter of iconic aircraft, such as Hurricanes, Mustangs, Kittyhawks and Tiger Moths. Aerial acrobatics displays are also promised. These include the death-defying, hand-waving Breitling Wingwalkers, braving maximum 4G G-forces and 150mph speeds in the name of entertainment.

- Vintage Village: Take a trip back in time as nostalgia-loving classic traders bring products from bygone days, together with all the usual driving services and goods plus the ever-popular, auto, aero and retro jumbles. Home-made and vintage goods range from between the 1930s and early 1960s - with clothing, textiles, art and homeware to the fore. 

Best of the rest
- A cavalcade of car clubs: The Classic gives car clubs great exposure and this year US muscle cars are expected to feature prominently. Your organisation can book their space by ringing Amy Waterhouse via 01775 768661 or sending an email to amy[AT]

- Live bands: Foot-tapping sounds add to the traditional atmosphere of the Classic, with The One-Eyed Cats among the groups to be confirmed so far.

- Dressed to thrill: There’s even a prize for the best-dressed visitor who gets into the vintage spirit. The winners will get some wine, a certificate and complimentary photo.

- A helping hand: There will be various stalls to help classic car collectors with everything they need to pursue their hobby, including a classic car insurance stall courtesy of Footman James.

6 Lesser Known Facts About Spitfires
- RJ Mitchell’s masterpiece very nearly wasn’t called the Spitfire. The names Shrew and Snipe were also in the frame.

- The Spitfire was the only GB fighter aircraft being continuously manufactured throughout the Second World War.

- More than 20,000 Spitfires were built and they stayed in active service and production until as recently as 60 years ago.

- They had a top speed of 582kph (that’s 361.6mph in old money).

- There are nearly 50 operational Spitfires around today.

- The 1969 war film Battle of Britain was like a who’s who of great actors: Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Trevor Howard, Robert Shaw, Christopher Plummer, Edward Fox, Kenneth More, Michael Redgrave, Michael Caine, Patrick Wymark and Susannah York. Just one small snag, however, from the mechanical stars. The Spitfires were naturally so brilliantly camouflaged that they were virtually invisible to movie cameras. The director ordered them to be shot against the clouds so they could become visible.

Last year’s Sywell highlights 
- Many attendees arrived donning vintage dress to get into the festival’s spirit.

- More than 76 classic driving organisations participated, including Corvettes, Morgans and Ford GT40s.

- Hot rods and dragsters raced each other.

- More than 1,200 motors were exhibited.

- A 13,787-strong crowd saw a Martini decked-out Lancia LC2 hit a maximum 192mph on the circuit’s Racing Runway.

- This was then eclipsed by KTM’s super-powered racing bike reaching 195mph.

- Many attendees thought both were trumped by a tear-inducing display of old military planes in the shape of the Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire and Hurricane.

So how do I get a ticket?
Tickets range from £18 single days to £30 weekend passes for adults. Children (5-15) cost £7 per day or £10 weekends.

Family tickets cost £43 for a day and £70 for weekends. This admits two children (5-15) and two adults.

A camping pitch costs £30.