Sometimes one thing leads to another. My recent article about classic old Jags led us to put together our new Best of British offer. Which in turn got me thinking – when all is said and done, are the best classic cars invariably British? I’m not saying they are. But it seems to me they might be. It’s something about the sheer volume of cars we’ve made that sets me on this line of thinking. I don’t think it’s rose tinted spectacles to suggest that no country with the exception perhaps of America has shown such a single-minded commitment to making cars as Britain has over the last 110 or so years. Put simply, we made lots and lots of cars. By the sheer law of averages it stands to reason that we have probably made more classic cars than most other nations. Except America perhaps.
Which leads me onto wondering what exactly is a classic car? Well, I guess it’s any old crock that at least someone somewhere loves. Morris Marinas don’t float my boat but that doesn’t mean they aren’t classic cars.
You don’t have to agree with that notion to appreciate the sheer variety and inherent ‘Britishness’ of the cars we’ve made. Morris Marina or Jaguar Mk2, Rolls Royce or Gilbern, there is something about a British classic car that means it couldn’t have been made anywhere else. Sure, sometimes that might well be because nobody else would have dared make it (hello again The Marina), but despite that there is something that these cars share, some essence that is British. Personally, I think it’s the whiff of ‘make do’ and woodbines that seems to permeate even the most mass-produced British classic cars. And I don’t say that as a bad thing – I much prefer it to the perhaps sterile image projected by some Germanic brands. Even when we got it so pin-sharp right, like the Jaguar XJ6, it was our astonishing ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by making it so badly that, to my mind, turns the XJ6 from being a decent effort to a great car. In Britain, we love an underdog, which is just as well because we do have quite a lot of experience in the dog manufacturing department.
The downside of this admirably amateurish approach to car manfacturing is that, as classic hire cars, British cars don’t enjoy the best of reputations. As they tend to account for the majority of classic hire cars in Britain, this has its downside. Let it be said: British classic cars are not the most reliable in the world. But they can be made reliable, with proper care and attention. Our experience is proof of that. It’s just that it takes a little longer to achieve than with a Porsche or even an Alfa. All of this means that when we came to assembling our Best of British promotion at Great Escape Classic Car Hire we didn’t struggle to find cars to include. Had we been hiring cars in Germany, Italy, France or maybe even America, would it have been the same? It’s the sheer range and variety of British classic cars that impresses, from wobbly vintage saloons like the Morris Minor to blunderbuss cruisers like the Jensen Interceptor. All British, all cojoined in a very English way of doing things. After what I hope is a fitting and perhaps controversial homily to the British classic car, here’s the plug. You can hire any of Great Escape Classic Car Hire’s British cars from its Devon, Cotswolds or Yorkshire fleets with a discount of £50 until 14th January. Just check online at http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733. Offer applies to gift vouchers as well as date bookings. Do you agree that British classic cars are the best? Tell us what you think.