Use Them & Improve Them

Old cars and special occasions are a potentially explosive combination, as anyone who has chauffeur driven a wedding car will know. Here at Great Escape we have the sometimes unenviable task of hiring our cars for customers’ weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Which genuinely makes the job rewarding. The trouble is, old cars don’t always feel the same way. By definition they have aged over 30, 40 or 50 years. In most cases they weren’t built very well or engineered well in the first place. It doesn’t help that in Britain we love British classic cars. If German cars captured out collective imagination our job at Great Escape Classic Car Hire would be considerably easier because they actually are more reliable. Fact. So we can never make our classic cars 100% reliable. But we can do everything in our power to make them as reliable and as presentable as possible.

At Great Escape we typically spend at least 35% of every hire fee on maintenance and improvement. As a result our breakdown or call out rate was less than 1% of all hires in 2012. The number of failed hires, where the car couldn’t be fixed, is even less.  We achieve this on a typical annual mileage of 8-15,000 miles. The key to achieving this is knowledge and investment. We took the decision in 2011 to set up our own workshop so that we could maintain our own cars at our main sites in Devon, Cotswolds and Yorkshire. This means that when a car develops a fault we aren’t faced with a dilemma about the cost of fixing it. We just fix it because we already employ the people who will do it. We have spent a while getting the right workshop team but we’re there now. Finding a mechanic who understands old cars and has the right fault-finding approach is surprisingly difficult. Now we have the right team with the right approach to customer service.

Since January 2013 we have spent several thousand pounds and over 300 man hours maintaining and improving our cars so that they start the 2013 season as good as they can be. We’ll be keeping up this pace throughout the rest of the year. The work isn’t just restricted to essential maintenance. We’ve improved bodywork, resprayed cars and fitted new interiors as well as refurbishing gearboxes, servicing engines and welding chassis. We’ve also made sensible improvements like fitting electronic ignition.

We will never prevent old cars breaking down. But we have a responsibility to our customers to keep them to an absolute minimum. And when it does happen, we have the right attitude and systems in place to put it right quickly. That means a 7 day a week emergency call out service run by each local manager backed by a full UK breakdown service. Unlike some companies, we’ll recover you wherever you are at no cost. I’m very proud of how we maintain and improve our fleet and how we manage breakdowns because I believe it’s at the heart of what we do. Over the last 18 months we have trimmed and changed our fleet to remove cars that just don’t meet our standards, either because of their presentation or reliability. I’ve also evolved our team and our branch network to ensure we offer a consistent service to customers. That enables us to confidently and successfully provide one car for a wedding or 50 cars for a corporate event. Our customers trust us to help them have a brilliant and memorable day. The very least we can do is give them a reliable and presentable car. To find out more about Great Escape call 01527 893733 or visit

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