Chris Bowden, right, and Auboné in front of the former's 1947 Standard 4/8A

The Secretary: Chris Bowden and the Devon Vintage Car Club


Chris Bowden is at the heart of the charitable community that is the Devon Vintage Car Club. Chris tells us about the good work of a long-established group of Devon classic car devotees.

A photo of a busy car club jumble sale

Autojumbles are a key element of club life. PICTURE: JOHN WILDE/DVCC

Linda and I became members of the Devon Vintage Car Club in 2006 after visiting one of the club’s autojumbles at Hatherleigh. I was frogmarched in a friendly manner by friends to the DVCC Club stand to sign up. I found them right from the start to be a very helpful and friendly bunch.

The club was founded in 1968 by just four people as the ‘Pre 49’ club. It quickly grew to encompass post-war cars as well as mid-century classics. In 1970 the name was changed to the Devon Vintage Car Club.

The club’s aim is to bring together people with a shared interest in the restoration and use of classic vehicles of all types and ages. You don’t have to own a vehicle to become a member, you just need to share a common interest.

A 1945 Norman Autocycle

Chris’ 1945 Norman Autocycle, which he has owned since 1968. Picture: LINDA BOWDEN

The DVCC now has around 225 members and an enthusiastic committee to help co-ordinate events and activities. We have breakfast get togethers every month in a centrally located pub, which has proved very popular, with often over 50 people attending. We have guest speakers at some events who talk about their interesting automotive experiences and travels, a club BBQ in the summer months at the excellent venue of the South Devon Steam Railway.

We also gather at rallies at our club stand which keeps us and our vehicles together, where we can meet up with fellow club members and their friends to enjoy tea, coffee and the many delicious cakes members bring along to our gazebo.

We try to have club runs every month with a drive around the glorious Devon countryside and end in a pub for lunch or a Devon cream tea (cream on first, jam on top, the proper Devon way). Any club member can organise a run and choose their own route and venue to finish at. With Devon being a large county and very rural there are a lot of new areas to explore and find those lanes and glorious views we haven’t seen before.

A collection of model cars and buses

Nostalgia and the collection of material culture are what club meets are all about. PICTURE: JOHN WILDE/DVCC

I’ve been a member of the committee for many years now and now hold the position of autojumble secretary. Our autojumble has moved from a long-standing site at Hatherleigh in Devon, as the site was deemed for development. We are now at the South Devon Steam Railway at Buckfastleigh, where we hold two autojumbles a year, in May and October.

Our last jumble had around 60 stalls selling everything from classic car and motorcycle parts, vintage signs, automobilia books and everything related to our interests. We even have a club stall where members can bring their unwanted spares to be sold with a small donation to our charities, which is fondly referred to as  ‘Auntie Wainwrights – if you touch it you buy it’ after the well loved series Last of the Summer Wine. All proceeds from our autojumble and club events  go to our local chosen charities, of which we have raised over £50,000.

Our next event will be on ‘Drive It Day’ which falls on April 24 where enthusiasts of classic vehicles are encouraged to bring them out. This event celebrates the ‘1,000 mile trial’ organised in 1900 to prove the viability of the then new-fangled ‘motor car’. We will start with a gathering at the South Devon Railway, with other clubs and individuals attending, then later our club will be off on a road run.

Chris Bowden, right, and Auboné in front of the former's 1947 Standard 4/8A

Chris Bowden, Auboné and the former’s 1947 Standard 4/8A. Picture: JM DRAKE 

What I like about this club is the friendliness of members and their willingness to help each other. There are all classes of cars and people, from the professionally restored top of the range cars, to home-restored Austins and Standards. I personally prefer the older pre-war and early post-war cars, but fully understand the younger generation prefer the types of cars that were in the public car park when I started rallying!  

Linda has driven our cars to events and has made many friends with other wives and partners of club members – and often do their own thing together. Over the years some members have lost their partners but we try to keep them in the fold of the club if they want, because it’s about the people and not just the vehicles.

For 2022 we have a full calendar of events to enjoy and after the pandemic hope to attend as many as possible and renew old friendships. I have been a member of other classic car clubs – but by far this one is the best.