Everyone remembers their first car; mine at the age of 23 was a 1969 Triumph Vitesse convertible (back when insurance could cost more than a car). A two litre, four -seater convertible rust-bucket which I spent more time maintaining than driving. In those days parts were readily available in scrap yards where the ability to climb a stack of rocking cars was just as important as being able to handle a socket set. The grey suits at the HSE put a stop to that malarkey and quite rightly so.
In more recent times I bought another Vitesse as a first venture into the classic a car market, and having moved that on have more recently acquired two e-type jaguars. Initially I intended to maintain these myself where possible – however as parts availability is now limited to a few suppliers (and often poor quality replacements), it soon became obvious I was one stripped- nut away from a whole world of pain and frustration. How I miss those scrap yards.
The real pleasure in owning a classic car is of course being able to drive on the open road – surprisingly, the simple decision to go for a drive now leads to several levels of doubt – will it start? Which roads have the least potholes? Is it going to rain? What if I breakdown? Etc etc And yet driving vehicles of a certain age is a totally different experience to modern cars – a better level of respect and tolerance from other road users (even cyclists amazingly) – and in the absence of power steering, ABS, modern suspension and a radio – the real feeling of driving. And its noisy.
As classic car ownership seems to be increasing in the UK, and there are more events to attend – the average age of owners remains above 60 which is a concern for the long-term well-being of these vehicles. We certainly need more interest from younger generations to learn the skills of engineering and maintenance to keep them roadworthy.
And they too will then learn that we are not classic car owners; merely custodians.
Having highlighted the worrying lack of new skill entering the classic car arena, it’s great to see that on our redevelopment of Littlebrook the contractors and supply chain have embraced our desire to create apprenticeships and training opportunities on site despite Covid constraints. Coupled with our involvement with the local schools and University Training College we are proactively encouraging young people to consider careers in property and construction – if just a few of them grasp that opportunity we will have a legacy to be proud of.