A few weeks ago I posted a story about our customers’ favourite hire cars of 2012. And I promised a follow up on the worst classic cars I’ve owned over the last 7 years of hiring them out. So here it is. Warning – there are more dogs than Battersea Dogs Home. By ‘worst classic car’ I really mean bad cars I’ve experienced. Other examples of the same car might be brillliant, but I remain to be convinced. I’ve called them worst because in many cases they’re not bad – some of them I even still like, in the same way you might still have a vestige of affection for a dog that has bitten you several times, chewed your arm off, that sort of thing. I apologise in advance to the respective owners clubs but this is what these cars were like for me.
1. Porsche 928
It would be remiss of me not to put my motoring nemesis at the top of this list. Here’s the Porsche 928 I bought for £5k and promptly spent close to twice that keeping it mobile. In 12 months. Let it be said that there is no such thing as a cheap Porsche – labour rates at specialists are £90 an hour, parts are mind-numbingly expensive and they do go wrong. Forget bulletproof build quality, they certainly feel like they’re hewn from stone but when they go wrong, they go really wrong. In my case it was the torque tube, electrical problems and brakes. I’m not even sure that I enjoyed driving it that much – it’s too wide, too heavy and it’s a difficult car to bond with. But it looks amazing and I do look at the photo above, even now, with a misty eye. Tears of pain, obviously.
2. Rover SD1 Vitesse
Doesn’t it look good. The Ferrari Daytona for the bank manager in a hurry. I’ve always loved the Rover SD1 ever since I went to school in one back in the day. As I took in the Connolly leather seats and walnut dashboard, I thought I was in automotive heaven. Plus it had rear headrests – imagine! The Vitesse version has always struck me as one of the handful of cars that will become classics of the 80s, so it made sense to look at buying one for the fleet. The car I found was excellent in every way, except that it could never overcome the fundamental shoddiness of the original fixtures and fittings. The Rover Vitesse looks brilliant, to my mind, it sounds brilliant too. The trouble is it doesn’t drive anywhere near as well. And when you are driving it you’re forced into the driving position from hell facing a dashboard that would have been rejected by MFI. Nothing, and I mean nothing, fits properly inside a Rover SD1. I liked looking at the Rover and if I could afford to have it as a static object I’d still have it. But as a car it was a staggering disappointment.
3. VW Golf GTI
This is nothing but utter heresy. Don’t tell me, I already know. But I just don’t get the VW Golf GTI. I bought this car as an unfinished project – an early mistake – and spent the next two or three years getting it back into a fit state. That included a full rewire, engine rebuild and lots of bodywork. The finished article was virtually a new car. But when I drove it I was completely disappointed, and this is a car I’ve always wanted to own. The main problem was that it just felt far too clinical. The Golf did everything it should do, it was quick, went round corners well, steered nicely, stopped eventually and made a decent noise. But it just didn’t warm me. So within a couple of months of finishing it I sold it and got a 205 GTI, which did all of those things but with a healthy dollop of verve on top.
So there you go, my classic car lowlights. Happy to take questions from the floor or be shot down. Sadly you can’t hire any of these cars any more from Great Escape but we do have 80 other classic cars on the fleet for hire. Visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.