Classic cars

Now that Supercars are so ubiquitous, classic cars have enjoyed something of a resurgence in popularity, not to mention stratospheric increases in value. I’d have made a fortune if I’d had the money to invest…

All that aside, are they fun to drive? Some are more fun than others. Don’t forget few cars older than 2000 have traction control, and not too many years before that they didn’t have power steering either, especially in the lower end of the market. 

However lack of tech doesn’t have to mean lack of fun (as any Caterham driver will attest). I drove a friend’s Aston Martin V8 Volante down to Goodwood the other day. It’s not a car that you can just hop in and drive, however. The process is thus:

Remove super duper dust cover

Open Boot

Turn off the immobiliser

Get in

Spend 30 mins cajoling the car into starting

Once started, it ran beautifully and sounds divine. 

And to drive? The gearbox is upside down. Exactly like my David Brown tractor (funny, that). Apart from the fact my tractor doesn’t have 5th gear. Or 4th. First gear is away and back, so you have to realign from a lifetime of driving normal cars where it’s away and up. 

It’s a damn heavy machine and you very much notice the laws of physics when going round even a gentle corner – centrifugal force is not a battle you are likely to win. And then there’s the brakes. Pressing the pedal feels like crushing marbles in a pestle and mortar, and does alarmingly little to reduce forward motion. As a result I resorted to the same tactics I use when driving a lorry full of horses; look really far ahead and leave masses of room between the vehicle ahead. 

As the sun was out, I decided to drop the roof, obvs. In the following 30 minutes I froze half to death and my fingers went white. No matter, I’ll just close the roof again. However the roof only wanted to half close, with one clip done, the other, at eye height, stubbornly refused to shut. Preferring the idea of being warm to the risk of losing an eye, I drove off as was, with both the windows open to prevent air pressure from fighting the half done up clip. Bizarrely, 10 mins later at 60mph, the clip closed fine. Chassis flex…?

It’s not a car I’d want to take round a track, but on a gently curving A road, it’s fabulous. That engine sounds like nothing else and the song it sings when you overtake is a guaranteed mood lifter. It’s an icon, it’s cool and people come over in petrol stations when you fill up (which is frequent, given the fact it’s got a V8) to talk to you about it, wistfully rather than enviously. 

That’s the difference between a classic and a Supercar. 

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