Motoring and Property Editor
1:00 AM 9th December 2023
A Car Lover’s Weekend To Remember
My love of cars does not stem from my parents, one of whom never passed a driving test and the other had given up driving before I was born. Obsessed from an early age, one of my enduring memories was my annual visit to the Earl’s Court Motor Show. My patient father would find a cosy corner, unfurl his copy of the Guardian and puff away on his pipe.
Once the show moved to Birmingham, a family friend would take me every year until such time that I was able to go under my own steam. I mourn the loss of a proper British Motor Show and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, for all its attractions, is no replacement.
Nick’s Aston DB6
My cousin Nick is a car lover too and having been most successful in business, he has some lovely cars in his garage. An invite to join him for a recent Scramble at Bicester Heritage was eagerly accepted, not least of which because I was hoping for a spin in his new Ferrari Roma.
Much to my amazement, he was happy to let me have an hour or so behind the wheel, adding quite a few hard-charging miles to the thousand or so he had already accumulated. The roads around his Oxfordshire base are not the most exciting, but the Ferrari’s excellence shone through. It will be a high days and holidays car, ideal for popping to Paris for a long weekend perhaps, or maybe coming to visit me where it can be properly exercised on some challenging Dales roads.
The Scramble event was most enjoyable, with a diverse assortment of automotive treasures parked neatly within the extensive grounds of the former WW2 RAF Bomber Training Station. Being in the company of a fellow petrolhead was most convivial and we could have spent the whole day wandering around, reminiscing about cars we had owned, cars we should never have sold and cars we should have bought. A call to return to his comfortable home for Sunday lunch curtailed our activities.
I should have mentioned that we had travelled to the event in Nick’s beautifully restored Aston Martin DB6, a car he regularly uses all through the summer. I wouldn’t have dreamt to ask to get behind the wheel, but as we made our way back to the car, the keys were thrust into my hands.
Bond fans will know that it’s a DB5 that features in the films, but the ‘6’ was the correct silver in colour, good enough for me.
Although quite used to driving expensive cars that do not belong to me, I was a tad nervous about setting forth in the valuable Aston. I need not have worried, for once the gearbox oil had warmed up, making second gear selectable without a crunch, it was an easy enough car to pilot. Heavy steering contrasted with the light, delicate gearchange and the brakes needed a fairly hefty shove before doing their job. I could sense my passenger burying his foot into carpet on more than one occasion.
The car had attracted plenty of attention at Bicester, but there were smiles and waves from passing cars as we burbled back to base in the warm sunshine. All too soon the drive was over and the car once more returned to its cosy garage.
Quite the weekend then. Needless to say, I hope to pay a return visit both to see Nick and to the next Scramble. Maybe this time I need to borrow something suitably exotic for the occasion. Not too early to start making some calls. Anyone?