Unlocking the Austin 35…
A more joyful, less pretentious occasion it would be hard to find. It’s the second Sunday in the month, the day when a tiny cafe encourages classic car owners to come and park up, wander around and have a chat.
The Riverview Cafe occupies the old coal merchant’s office – it’s the only remnant of Forest Row’s rail station on the London to Lewes line. It may be small, but the interior is covered with posters and old train tickets and, importantly, there is a large car-park. The idea has caught on. Fuelled by the lack of tannoys, charges and red tape, enthusiasts flock from miles around to share their cars with anyone who is interested.
We met Rob Denney who little thought that he would own his first car 35 years after he became it’s proud owner in 1977. ‘My father bought it for me to learn to drive in, I used to drive to school in it when I was 16 and I just never got rid of it.’ It’s a rare four-door version of the Austen 35 – most had two doors. They are rare because so many have rusted away. Rob is under strict orders never to take it out in the rain. ‘It doesn’t brake very well, but that’s OK because it doesn’t go very fast either’ he laughs. However there was a nasty moment when I pulled the handle of the beautiful car and it came away in my hand. It looked as though Rob wouldn’t get home at all….luckily Classic Car Camaraderie in the form of Neil Osborne saved the day…..