LLG in England: a 1965 Austin Healey aka car p*rn

by Sasha Wilkins on June 24, 2012 · 11 comments

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Well hello you….*purrs*

There are some of my friends who find my love of classic cars a little odd. To which I say, pointing at photos like the one above, even if you have no desire to drive them, how could you not look at that beautiful piece of design and not grin like a fool?

Of course looking and driving are two quite different things.

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(Yes, that is a small dog in the LHS footwell.)

As you will know from last week’s postVintageSeekers.com discovered that I loved cars and threw out a suggestion: would I like to borrow a 1965 Austin Healey for the weekend, to highlight their new classic car brokerage service and care hire service?

As I sat behind the wheel in the short stay car park in the South Terminal I had a moment of oh Christ what I have agreed to?

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Driving classic sports cars is a world away from today’s nippy, lightweight convertibles. There’s no power steering, the disc brakes are slower, the gears need more love, and the lights & wipers are usually dash flip levers, as opposed to stalks. (The indicators in this case are that cream switch on the middle of the steering wheel.)

And if you need to turn the car from stationary you practically have to wrench the wheel around. Oh and the pedals tend to be positioned quite differently from modern cars.  Essentially, you need to drive with a lot of care and thought. It’s as much an intellectual exercise as a physical one. (And it really is a physical one with no power steering.)

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Here I am in the pits at Silverstone in my father’s XK120. After a day of track driving in this, I can barely move my arms:

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What you need is a big old injection of chutzpah: Driving is a matter of self-belief as much as it is competence. Sitting in the Healey, I gave myself a good old talking to, reminding myself that I have driven the 1952, 1.5 ton 120 around Goodwood at 100mph and that the Healey could only be a pussycat in comparison. So after a very deep breath, I turned the key in the dashboard, opened up the gas, and eased out the car park.

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And of course, it was an utter delight to drive. The gas pedal was responsive, the gearbox smooth as silk. The main thing to get used to is that a pale blue 1965 convertible with its roof down is going to attract a LOT of attention.

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Factor in a female driver in a Grace Kelly headscarf & Ray-Bans, a female co-pilot, and an upright sausage dog with its ears flattened in the wind, and you might as well have a klaxon screaming ‘Oy you: look over here’ mounted on the bonnet.

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As we drove out of Gatwick, there was a guy hopping about on the kerb with a cameraphone as we went past, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the weekend. We had children waving at us, tourists pointing, and grown men gawping.

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Our favorites were the delightful German family by Arundel Castle, who stared and stared, until I invited them over to look at the dash and interior (I know from hanging out with my dad what the etiquette is around car lovers). When they discovered we had a Dackel in the passenger seat, I thought they were going to explode with joy. An Austin Healey AND a dachshund in one neat package? Ver gut!

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In a way, although the driving really was absolute heaven, it was the meeting of other car lovers and chatting that really made the weekend for us. Motoring is one of those passions that completely breaks down barriers, and we talked to some great people over the weekend.

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And thank you again to VintageSeekers.com and your fabulous classic car brokerage service.

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(And if you are feeling inspired by my weekend of classic car love,  you too can hire this car for a day or weekend via VintageSeekers.com)

 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Keyta Hawkins June 24, 2012 at 19:02

That is an amazing car! I love it.

– Keyta x

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Catherine June 24, 2012 at 23:13

Wunderbar!

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Nikki June 25, 2012 at 07:23

Sasha, I drive a pearl pink Nissan Figaro, not quite a classic car, but it looks like one! It’s a joy to drive, mainly because grown men have been known to call out to me whilst I’m stopped at traffic lights to tell me that they love my car, and teenage girls grow week at the knees when they see it. It makes driving a totally different experience from simply getting from A to B; I feel like a glamorous girl from the fifties with my headscarf and cats-eye sunglasses on and the roof down. Now I just need a small dog to complete the picture!

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Lola June 25, 2012 at 09:02

They have this vintage car (festival?) weekend annually and I love seeing all the vintage cars drive past, suddenly feels like I’m transported to another era and I’m always impressed by how many people turn up x

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Elisse June 25, 2012 at 09:30

Wow, that does seem very hard to drive a classic sports car. It’s so cool that you know how to do that, though. I live in America and most people drive automatic cars, but this summer my dad has been teaching me to drive his BMW stick shift convertible which has been a lot of fun.

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Haidee June 25, 2012 at 10:30
missjetlagged June 25, 2012 at 13:48

It’s so beautiful!!

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Laura June 25, 2012 at 14:20

Oh just wonderful! I just adore old cars. My dad used to take me and my sister around all the classic car shows. I’ve never driven any of the speedy ones, but my sister and I learnt to drive on a 1962 series 2 landrover. No power steering, crash gearbox. I always used to get blokes watching me park to see ‘if I needed any help’. Which I didn’t. (always an extra ounce of pride when you have people judging women’s driving abilities and you show them up!) But it would always make my day when driving it to get a toot and a wave from the other classic landrover drivers on the road! Sadly, my one is defunct with not enough spare cash to renovate, but we are desperately trying to pull our beans together to make my sister’s one roadworthy, as our dad died 3 years ago and they were our only real inheritance from him. This post made me smile oh so much! You should head to Beaulieu Motor Garage- they have stunning cars there for sale! We go and drool there every so often.
xxx

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asi June 26, 2012 at 15:14

so beautiful car, amazing color. lovey pics. love it
parfum pas cher

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annie June 27, 2012 at 08:53

I love that picture of you in the car so much!

My mum had an MGB so that was the car I drove as a teenager. Much more fun than my friends’ fiestas and novas. Then I bought a Triumph Spitfire as my first car which I loved. You’re so right about the steering. It’s sooo heavy. And putting up the sun roof was a right pain. All those poppers.

So nice to see a girl who knows how to drive and appreciate nice cars x

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