While I know that about 3 per cent of the New Year have already passed, I will start with a look in the rear view mirror… Listening to a two-hour special on the local radio station playing just David Bowie songs, I am reminded that 2016 had some memorable moments, but certainly not all of them happy ones.
Personally, it was not all that bad. With family life and the day job following a regular path, I found more time to spend with the cars. More of the family’s classic cars are now in a driveworthy condition than has been the case for quite a few years. All I really need to do is grab the opportunities to use them now – such as using the Maxi to go on a lengthy business trip of over 750 miles…
There is a certain luxury about not being forced to use planes, trains or rental cars when going out to meetings – it’s a good way to get more fun out of such trips, and even the petrol is paid for! Somehow my cars alway stick out on the parking lot at the events I attend – that’s because all the other cars there are less than one-year old!
I even found the time to pull all the stickers of my brother’s old (banger-) rally car, revealing a quite nice Rover 827 Vitesse underneath. A true modern classic, or will it be a future daily driver?
Luckily, the daily drivers – the Rover Tourer and XM Estate – delivered sterling service all the time without much more than regular servicing. Both are roughly 19 years and over 180,000 miles old which shows that cars from the late 1990s are, indeed, a very robust generation.
A promise given in autumn 2015 saw me head to my personal Grand Tour in November – loading the Innocenti IM3 onto a trailer and towing it straight into the exhibition halls of the NEC to complete the most diverse 1100 Club display seen for a long time. The XM proved to be a supremely capable towing car, making the 450 mile overnight trip to Birmingham in the morning hours as enjoyable as towing a trailer possibly could be.
Driving on British motorways can always be a bit hit and miss, bad driving standards or heavy traffic – or both. Trying to stick to the legal limit for towing felt at times quite hazardous, as every HGV was driving faster. I therefore quickly aborted that idea (sorry) and tried to fit in with the flow of traffic. The Classic Motor Show proved great, as did meeting so many like-minded people. I was glad to find that Brexit was not a topic of discussion at the show and I felt as welcome as ever.
Some time ago, I wrote a blog about my difficulties when trying to think about a replacement for the Rover Tourer. Now, just days before Christmas, this topic raised it’s head due to a careless moment on the part of another motorist. The outcome was not pretty, but luckily no one was hurt – just the thing you do not really need at this time of year. To keep the family mobile, a replacement was very quickly sourced.
A well-kept, one-owner Peugeot 306 with low miles and fresh test was found in the local small ads. It does indeed drive well and feels like it could go on for the next decades without much trouble – but the refinement and ambience of the Rover is in a different league. It feels rather strange to have two French cars as daily drivers and not another ARG product…
However, as always there is a silver lining – just as the look in the rear view mirror that was going to reveal a bright sunrise…
Here, at AROnline, we are looking ahead to some exciting events which we will be visiting this year:
- InterClassics Maastricht with a show of a dozen Facel Vega luxury cars this week;
- The British Cars and Lifestyle show for the Anglophile’s much-needed dose of Union Jacks and a chat up with club colleagues in Rosmalen;
- The Techno Classica in Essen for just being the most important and possibly biggest show on the continent;
- The BMC and Leyland Show at Gaydon in July, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of one of our favourite failures: the Austin 3-litre. This is certainly a good motivation to get some more kilometers on the clock of my LHD example.
… and many more.
Will we see a return to a banger rally after more than a decade of abstinence?
Finally, a decision needs to be made about whether I’ll hang up my Rover coat for good or get the Tourer repaired.
Watch this space…