Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Korczew Excursion - First CCC foray into the 'overnight' stay adventure


Click on photos to enlarge - far superior effect


Korczew or Bust 

by

Michael Kenny


The 30th April/1st May opened the CCC's summer touring account. 

Meeting up at the KFC in Zakret at 10am with a planned destination of Korczew Palace near Siedlce, 9 cars made it through the unusually heavy morning traffic to open their 2016 touring account by watching Neil Crook sample some of KFC's fine chocolate cake for breakfast (subsequent note by 'Captain' MM: cake later reportedly 'shit' by the consumer - unquote. McCafe remains the rendezvous of choice).




One by one the cars arrived including Neil's Citroen GS4, an aubergine MX5, 2 fine Mercedes SL, one with spurious number plates, 2 equally fine red MGAs (one finer than the other and certainly less smelly), a rasping Porsche 718, a Range Rover on LPG and a divine green E-type. A touring biker group were also amassing in the carpark so the combined group of machines made for interesting viewing.






By 11 a quorum had been reached so we set off taking a back road to try an avoid the snarling A2 traffic. The plan was to amble the inner roads and convene at Liw Castle near Wegrow, about 60km away. Sadly the traffic snailed for the first 20km. With the rain spitting and the temperatures hardly hitting 10 degrees it didn't make for a very enjoyable open top cruise. By the time we arrived at Liw my neck, ears, thighs and lower back were in need of a clothing re-think. 




It was at the point that Mateusz Zulawski brought me up to date on the difference between a roadster and a cabriolet: a roadster essentially has no side windows. The MGA is a roadster while the MX5 is a cabriolet.




We took in the castle's museum and widened our knowledge of the importance of Liw and the surrounding area. After an hour, revived and more optimistic of the driving conditions ahead, we took off with gusto. The roads were now clear and we raced at a steady 80-100km/h through Wegrow and Sokolow Podlaski. It made a fine sight to see the cavalcade snake through the fields with tall wind turbines spinning against the dark afternoon sky.




Jimmy in the Porsche had been given permission to race ahead and warn the palace staff of our impending arrival. The car made such a cracking Formula One-esque noise as it changed gears.  Przemek and his son Michal were very generous in providing a photographic account during this leg. And Blaze found that driving at 70km/h in light rain with the windows up and the roof down was the minimum speed necessary to enough to stay dry. 15 minutes behind the Porsche, the main body of cars arrived triumphantly into the town of Korczew driving past the dairy farms and fish ponds on our left, through the dusty crossroads that define the village centre and then entering the palace through the imposing tall gates. It was a fine sight to see the cars parked in front of the Palace steps.



The destination of Korczew Palace was significant in that Al Harris, driving his recently purchased red MGA 1600, was inviting us to his family's ancestral home. Here his mother and our host, Mrs Beata Ostrawska-Harris, has been born and reared but when WW2 started she was evacuated to England where she grew up and later married. In the early 90's she returned to Poland with her husband and 2 sons Al and Dominic and daughter Helen. The palace by then had fallen into severe disrepair following 50 years of neglect. In the Palace's small museum were many photo's showing the various uses the palace buildings were put to during various periods during and after the war. She told us that rather than go through the bureaucratic process of restitution it was significantly easier to purchase back her family home which happened to be for sale, for the magnanimous total of PLN 1.








Al's MGA is interesting in that it underwent a body-off restoration in Rzeszow in 2014 by a Polish enthusiast. Finished in Ferrari red, it's a fine example of well restored car. I wish Al many years of fun driving.


After a hearty lunch Mrs Harris explained the palace's history and then we visited the carp ponds, the river Bug and the dairy farm. At 5pm or so, 4 of the cars departed back to Warsaw leaving the 2 MGs and the E-type at the Palace. It made a fine sight to see the 3 old classic cars against the backdrop of the palace. In fact, it was at that point that Al revealed to his mother that he had just bought the MGA and it brought a huge smile to her face. As she sat into the car, it appeared to stoke a hundred happy memories of England in the late 50s and early 60s. 

That evening we returned to the Palace dining room and enjoyed a feast of food and wine. We were joined by Harris family friends Adam Komorowski and Peter Pininski and Al's brother Dominic. Peter is a proud owner of an Aston Martin that he keeps in Warsaw and regularly drives on long trips. After dinner we retired to the kitchen and sipped and talked till the late hours. Once Mrs Harris went to bed the conversation descended into a manly discussion of feats and failures. Al, unused to the energy drain of the MG's heavy steering and general open top driving in cold weather, battled to stay awake. Ian Booth omitted to relieve his wife from babysitting duties so she didn't get the chance to join us.

Our very clean and comfortable quarters were across the road in the small hotel. This was another business operated by the palace in conjunction with their Dom Weselny further down the road. 

The next morning we gathered in preparation for the trip back to the city. A group of day tripping cyclists had arrived at the palace and were excited by the unplanned exhibition. We tried to impress them by opening up the bonnets. The tiny hair-dryer sized engines of the MGs were overshadowed by the twin cam engineering of the E-type but I think they were impressed more by the gaseous emissions from my own MG  as I raced off leaving a plume of smoke.

The journey home was uneventful but the road was open and clear enough to maintain a steady 80 km/h, I felt satisfied that the touring summer had kicked off in a nice orderly fashion and Captain Michael Moran would approve.

CCC Participants 

(photos by Blazej Zulawski and Michal Vonau)

Michael Kenny - 1960 MGA 1600, fitted with MGB 1.8 ltr engine, electronic ignition and Weber carburettors 

Al Harris - 1960 MGA 1600 

Ian Booth - Jaguar E-Type, Series 2, 2+2 Coupe, 4.2 Automatic

Przemek Vonau - Mercedes R129 500 SL (face lifted)

Blazej Zulawski - Mercedes R129 320SL (slightly modified & facelifted)


Radzimir Dębski & Klaudia Wróbel - Porsche 718


Mateusz Zulawski - Mazda MX5, 1.8, NB FL model (FL means facelifted)

















And so it's 'Goodnight' from him...
...and them

Saturday, 14 May 2016

HUSARIA - In the Spirit of the Winged Cavalry

Comrades in Arms

                                         'One Club, one family'   
                                                                                     Former RREC President Col. Eric Barrass

                             
              HUSARIA - In the Spirit of the Winged Cavalry



This was not exclusively a CCC affair but members were invited. 

When Poland energetically shook off the shackles of communism in 1989 the idea of founding a Polish Section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club would have been considered hopeful but bordering on the delusional. However a great Polish historical racing tradition existed before World War II. Count Louis Zborowski, who lived at Higham Park in Kent, drove his aero-engined monsters at Brooklands. Count Maurycy Potocki and the ‘fast lady’ Maria Koźmian battled in their Bugattis in the Lwów Grand Prix, a city now in present day Ukraine.

In July 1993 I took part in the first international car rally in Poland since 1913 in my 1974 Silver Shadow (SRH18723). Boys fell off their bicycles and we were showered with rose petals. Surely it is a symbolic indicator of the miraculous regeneration of the country that on 23 April 2016 a group of Polish Rolls-Royce and Bentley enthusiasts and owners (one an Australian) assembled in Kalisz, the oldest town in Poland, to form the Polish Section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club. http://www.rrec.org.uk/ 

Kalisz is beautifully situated in the Prosna River valley some 270 kms west of Warsaw. The town is mentioned by the Greek scholar Ptolemy as lying on the trade route known as the Amber Road which stretched from the Baltic to the Mediterranean (this electrostatic resin was considered to possess magical properties and was valued above gold in ancient times). Although badly damaged in the Great War, Kalisz possesses superb Baroque churches and fine parks bursting with the flowers of the Polish spring. Polish theatre is famous in Europe and certainly a theatrical atmosphere accompanied the festive party atmosphere at our base, a former doll factory that exported internationally. It has been converted into a commodious hotel named Komoda Club Residence.


The Old Town of Kalisz  
(Kalisz - Unigraf, Bydgoszcz, 2011)
Allan Rosetzsky from the RREC Board of Directors generously agreed to attend from his home in Denmark. By extraordinary serendipity his family originated not far from Kalisz but emigrated to Denmark in 1721. Polish RREC members soon arrived from all over the country, some of them with their cars. By 3.00 pm the following had assembled:

1934 20/25 Carlton open tourer ; 1948 Silver Wraith (WZB33) Hooper limousine; 1949 Silver Wraith (WDC57) Park Ward Sport Saloon ; 1958 Silver Cloud ; 1963 Bentley S3 (B782CN) ; 1974 Silver Shadow (SRH18723) ; 1995 Flying Spur - this is the limited edition (134 cars in total) of the turbocharged Silver Spur III (SCAZG03C95CX55200).

A delicious buffet lunch was served with all the Polish specialties before the serious matters of the day got under way. The cars were arranged in the historic street outside the hotel for the residents of Kalisz to admire and photograph. As all owners were dressed in costume appropriate to the period of their vehicles a rather high-spirited and colourful spectacle unfolded. We then set off in ‘close-order’ with some lucky passengers for a tour of the historic city.

Change into more conventional attire for dinner. More Polish specialties splendidly laid out in a banquet accompanied by spirited toasts. This was followed by a refreshingly informal meeting to propose and second candidates for the Polish Section Committee. Enthusiasm could scarcely be contained by the members present as glasses were raised. Much useful clarifying advice was given by Allan Rosetzsky on the cloudier aspects of section formation, regalia and regulations concerning section car badge design.

Dariusz Brudkiewicz (CCC Member) was elected Chairman, Andrzej Roszkiewicz elected Treasurer and Michael Moran (CCC Chairman) elected Secretary.  Paweł Sławiński was elected Vice-Chairman. These four ‘worthy coves’ then had a short meeting apart from the main party to discuss their roles in detail. Two main events for this year were immediately placed in the diary. A meeting entitled Classica Mierzęcin at the magnificent Mierzęcin Palace Wellness & Wine Resort between Szczecin and Poznań from 15-19 June. 

http://www.palacmierzecin.eu/

Later in the year the Motoclassic at Topacz Castle near Wrocław from 12-14 August. Arguably the finest classic car event staged in Poland. Definitely worth a special visit.

http://motoclassicwroclaw.pl/

More congratulations, photographs and general excitement until our beds in the former doll factory became irresistible.

Intense discussions on Rolls-Royce and Bentley matters erupted over breakfast until we set off to our various homes. Polish mechanics were among the best Spitfire fitters during the Battle of Britain and developed close emotional bonds with their machines and their Merlin engines. This deep love and encyclopaedic knowledge of Rolls-Royce was again in evidence at this remarkable event. A new world of cultural experience, historic landscape and the friendship of a lively people has opened for the adventurous RREC membership to explore.


Michael Moran – Secretary RREC Polish Section 


1934 20/25 Carlton open tourer  

Festive RREC Polish Section Foundation Dinner 23 April 2016

Lt. to Rt. 1948  Silver Wraith (WZB33) Hooper limousine owned by Dariusz Brudkiewicz, 1949 Silver Wraith Park Ward Sport Saloon owned by Paweł Sławiński, 1934 20/25 Carlton open tourer owned by Andrzej Roszkiewicz

RREC Polish Section Chairman Dariusz Brudkiewicz beside his 1948  Silver Wraith (WZB33) Hooper limousine admiring the street display in Kalisz


The immaculate engine of 1948  Silver Wraith (WZB33) Hooper limousine 

Excitement at the street display

Poland meets Downton Abbey
Andrzej Roszkiewicz and his partner Barbara having alighted from their 20/25 Carlton open tourer
Chodyński Street, Kalisz
(Kalisz - Unigraf, Bydgoszcz, 2011)

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls meets Henry Royce - 112th Anniversary of Their Meeting at the Midland Hotel Manchester 4 May 1904 - Celebrated in Customary Fashion by the CCC at the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw, Poland







          When Rolls Met Royce 

Wednesday 4th May 2016 marked 112 years to the day since Frederick Henry Royce, who owned an electrical and mechanical business, met Charles Stewart Rolls, who ran a car company in London.

Rolls and Royce met at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on 4 May 1904 to discuss a proposed partnership. Royce had just built his first motor car and the pair reached an agreement over lunch to manufacture vehicles to be sold under the name Rolls-Royce.



Midland Hotel Manchester shortly after completion in 1903 not long before Rolls and Royce met there

The first Rolls-Royce car, the 10hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904. Two years later saw the formation of the Rolls-Royce Company.

After considering sites in Manchester, Coventry, Bradford and Leicester, Derby's council offered the company cheap electricity on a site on the southern edge of the city and the rest, as they say, is history… (Courtesy of Flying Spares)


As Rolls-Royce remains one of the greatest brand names and industrial British Institutions (despite changes of ownership) I always celebrate this meeting of the founders every year. Well someone in Dam Buster spirit has to fly the flag after all, even an Australian living in Poland!

I headed up to the historic Bristol Hotel in Central Warsaw near the Presidential Palace, the CCC base of operations. 

Together with the Chairman of the newly formed Polish Section of the RREC, Dariusz Brudkiewicz who had driven from Opole with his family, some stalwart CCC members assembled (Ian Booth, Michael Kenny, Blazej Zulawski, a 'new chum' Max Filipowicz and the ever ebullient Michael Kenny). 

We had numerous glasses of Deutz Champagne, tasty snacks provided by the hotel, excellent Tapas and chatted about cars, leafed through  some of the past Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club Bulletins and RR books. It has become an annual commemorative ritual.

Most important much politically incorrect banter was in evidence and we laughed a lot...yes, a lot....




                              
                                      My 20 year badge from the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club
                                Bear with the old boy...

Michael Moran

Approaching Infinitum with Dr. Who

Piotr Frankowski aka Dr. Who


On April 9th CCC members were invited for a tour of the new premises of Infinitum Classic Cars courtesy of the President of Infinitum Mariusz Ludwiniak, CCC member Blazej Zulawski who suggested the idea, the event hosted by another CCC member, that brilliant living encyclopedia of arcane automotive and aeronautical knowledge, linguist, writer and racing driver Piotr Frankowski. He took us on a very informative tour of the entire premises and described the work they do in service, restoration and hiring.



The weather was rather cool and changeable but a few members drove their classic cars to the venue. Jacek Kołodziejski came in his yellow Saab convertible (900 Turbo S Viggen), Adam Widmański in his black Alfa Spider, Janusz Zawada in his magnificent XK 150S, Erik Hallgren came in his modern 2007 Maserati and myself in the ever reliable 1974 Royce Silver Shadow.


A river of Moet et Chandon champagne was in constant flow courtesy of Jacques Marbot, the Corporate & Private Sales Manager of Moët Hennessy Polska Sp. z o.o. Champagne always raises the spirits and on this occasion inflated the desire to experience at first hand such an extraordinary collection of exotic machinery - more Mercedes than I have ever seen under one roof save at Sindelfingen; BMW, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa 'and many more'. The delicious finger food was provided by Kregliccy Restaurant and Catering. 



It is at events like these that I am stunned at the development of Poland in such a short period of time since 1989. When I first visited the country in 1992 such a scene would have been utterly inconceivable, the very idea of it seemingly the ravings of a madman. Congratulations too on the excellent English commanded by all our Polish friends present – never taken for granted by this hopeless language student (albeit an apparently intelligent fellow).



Rather than copy all the excellent photographs of the event taken by the photographer Filip Blank (there are quite few fine ones), here is the link if you wish to browse the event:


I also think I can do no better than to quote from 'About Us' on the Infinitum website:


An absolutely unique proposition, previously unheard of in the classic car world.

We like to think that Infinitum Classic Cars is the answer to all possible vintage car related questions.That is if the person asking these questions is an avid motorist and petrolhead.

Not to point out it is the only venture of the kind in Europe would be fake modesty. Infinitum combines an idea of a club, which offers its members an opportunity to interact with classic cars preserved and maintained in their original condition, suitable for spirited driving without the associated hardship and risks with a unique “travel agency”, which uses its own fleet of over one hundred cars and organizes fully structured roadtrips to unusual, but breathtakingly beautiful regions of Poland.

Infinitum, however, is so much more than just roaring engines, exhaust notes and tire squeal. It’s a place where inspiring connections can be made. There’s nothing better than getting to know other people,who are share the same passion. Especially while discovering surprising Polish history and picturesque scenery located far from the established and crowded tourist routes.

On top of that our ‘hybrid’ concept offers a world-class service for owners of classic cars. By ‘classic’ we also mean models that hold sentimental value for their owners. Maintaining a collection of such magnitude has taught our mechanics to approach each vehicle with love and respect. Since our own fleet has to be used for club activities and events we approach the issue of high-standard work with all associated seriousness. Our philosophy being that the cars have to look and feel just the way they did when they left the factory. We undertake complete, nut and bolt restorations and quick service jobs. Our experts will guide you, advise you or help you find the spare parts you need.

To summarize – Infinitum is in fact a lifestyle idea. An invitation to join us in an analogue reality where everything happens at a less crazy digital powered pace. Where we leave ourselves room to think and therefore pursue our passions in order to reach perfection and in consequence… freedom.

Their own website is well designed and pleasant to browse:



This monster was started up (no silencer) and was probably the loudest car I have ever heard outside the Paddock at Goodwood! I soon retreated within...

Jacques Marbot elucidating the finer points of Moet et Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Krug and Dom Ruinart champagne to a delightful young lady whom I never had the pleasure of meeting...

Al Capone would have loved these two mean Americans but rather too late for him
'Business as Usual' at Infinitum Classic Cars

And so it's 'Goodnight' from them...

Lt to Rt  Mariusz Ludwiniak, Michael Moran, Blazej Zulawski, Jacques Marbot and Jeraboam of 
Moët 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

CCC Christmas Dinner/Meeting 18 December 2015, Pod Gigantami, Warsaw

Click on photographs to enlarge - far better rendition

Krakowskie Przedmieście, Warsaw, Christmas 2015

A rather happy bunch of CCC Members at Christmas Dinner





The Dear Chairman in festive mode contemplating his alcoholic alternatives

A very pleasant occasion for those CCC Members assembled. There was no speaker scheduled for this dinner as we had quite a few items to discuss on the Agenda. I do feel however that a speaker is a necessary fitment to CCC dinners to direct attention away from the slight intensity of our  selves and preoccupations  in convivial mode.

Discussion Agenda

CCC Christmas Dinner Meeting 18 December 2015

v  Nature of membership of the CCC and active participation in club activities. Discuss the ongoing problem of attracting a more  active  commitment and email  response to ideas from members yet retaining the ‘Casual’ nature of the  club?  Does this matter? I think so.
v  Future activities – possibility of engaging and incorporating different styles and  approaches
v    Initiatives presented by Blazej Zuławski
1.        Excursion to Infinitum
2.       Dinner invitation by Jacques Marbot from LVMH Poland (Belvedere Vodka, Veuve Clicquot, Moet, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton) would like to form some sort of partnership with the CCC when it comes to future club dinners. Thoughts despite absence of our downhill slalom champion skiing in Switzerland was it courtesy of Porsche.
v  My own efforts are ongoing with CCC Member Dariusz Brudkiewicz in Opole to set up a Polish Section of the R-REC (the UK Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club – the finest in the world). This has great international rally potential and could involve us. An excursion and tour of the Goodwood R-R factory is on the cards for 2017. Also attendance at the incredible R-REC Annual Rally that attracts 1,500 RR and Bentley. A rare opportunity. Not necessary to own an RR or Bentley.
v  Possible Malt whiskey tasting event with Peter Pulawski at Dobrewina.pl though the good offices of CCC member Guy Pinsent. Possible interest?
v  Paul Blackman has been chatting to the Editor of Octane Magazine in London who may like an article on the CCC for the Magazine. http://subscribe.octane-magazine.com/
v  My own mission to suggest summer picnic/lunch excursions to country houses, castles, museums, skansens and so on that would increase expat knowledge of Polish history and culture as well as drive our classics to beautiful locations near Warsaw for convivial occasions
v   Frequency of these Winter and Summer Dinner Meetings
v  Neil Crook’s suggestion of stands and staff provision at car exhibitions events – Autonostalgia, Warsaw Motoclassic, Wroclaw Motoclassic. Also his unique ‘spanking agenda’ on purely driving excursions between McCafés.
v  Bearing in mind all of the above I think the time has come for a redefinition of the role of the Chairman of the club. Some delegation of authority is clearly required for these various activities now materialising on the horizon. Otherwise they will simply not happen. I do feel the success of these ideas and their implementation is intimately connected with an increased level of response from the email post list. Communications are rather whimsical at present with resulting disappointment by organisers.
v  I have been giving various issues some thought over recent weeks. I am quite prepared to remain as ‘nominal Chairman’ of the club and maintain the CCC online journal  (I may have more time for writing posts than the many oligarchs who make up our interplanetary travelling membership!). However I no longer wish to or consider I should remain solely responsible for suggestions and outcomes of club activities. Recently this has begun to change which is excellent news. We have a collection of very interesting personalities in the CCC membership that should be given a voice. Discussion?
             Perhaps we could discuss how we might manage a workable voluntary delegation of tasks and roles yet avoid creating an inflexible and unwieldy structure that moves away from the valuable idea of a ‘Casual Car Club’which remains attractive in so many respects. Deputy Chairman…Exhibitions Secretary….Dinner Meetings Secretary….Membership Secretary….Events Manager….that sort of thing just off the top of my head. No huge investment of time would be involved. All appointments need not take place at this dinner but I float the idea – perhaps we could appoint some however.
v   AOB


Mathieu Spencer's imaginative graphic depiction of the outcome of our discussions


CCC Members present at this dinner:

Neil Crook
Jonathan Bowring
Iain Batty
Mathieu Spencer
Ian Booth
Mirek Staniszewski
Eugene Houx
Michael Wrobel
Przemek Vonau
Michael Moran
Paul Ayre



The 'Christmassy Entrance' to Pod Gigantami