Readers Drives - My Love Affair....Cars
They just keep coming. I wonder if you guys realised you all had it in you to write such superb motoring stories. This story from Jago is just lovely and looking at the pictures as well as reading the story, it is obvious why this is one of his greatest motoring memories. You had a cool Grandad Jago! My love affair with cars, like with many of us, comes from being lucky enough to have grown up at a time when cars were so much more diverse and exciting than they seem to me to be today. I was also fortunate to have a father and grandfather, both of whom ran ‘proper’ cars back in the day.
My earliest memories are of sitting in my grandpa’s MK 1 Lotus Cortina in the late 1960’s, unable to reach the pedals but well able to hold that fantastic wood-rimmed Lotus steering wheel and gaze up at that iconic Lotus badge, right in the middle. My love affair with BMW came shortly after when my grandpa acquired a Fjord blue 2002tii registration SYC 202L (I wonder if it still exists somewhere to this day)? For some reason, it made a real impression on me as a small boy and cemented my passion for all things BMW ever since. I have owned a good number of classic BMW’s including a 2002tii, 635 CSI, E30 325i Sport, 630i and my current BMW classic, which is my CS2800. My daily driver is a 640d.
However, notwithstanding that many Classic Heroes readers are BMW fanatics, the focus of this Readers Drives is my 1968 Series 1.5 Jaguar E Type roadster and a truly fabulous trip we took with the E Type in the autumn of 2015 curtesy of my wife who booked a classic car holiday with a specialist company as a 50th Birthday present for me – lucky boy!!
It started particularly well, when we received the Welcome Letter from the tour operator with a list of guests on the trip and their cars. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that one such car was to be Aston Martin DP215 with its owner, Neil Corner along with Dick Crosthwaite of Crosthwaite and Gardiner. My first thought was that Neil probably had a whole stable of wonderful cars and that he would think better of it nearer the time (the tour was scheduled for October and thus potentially unpredictable weather) and bring something else instead. Not a chance, when we lined-up at Portsmouth ferry terminal sure enough there was DP215 sitting in all its splendour alongside the remainder of more ‘mundane’ machinery that included 5 E Types, a Ferrari 330 GT and 550 Maranello, two wonderful 1930’s Bentley’s and a similarly vintage Alvis, Aston DB6 and DBS along with an MGC and one or two other lovely but more modern but nonetheless very tasty machinery.
Our tour was a magical 5 day trip that lead us from St Malo through the beautiful French countryside to the Hotel de France in La Chartre-sur-le-Loir, famously ‘home’ to the Aston Martin Le Mans team run by the legendary John Wyer and where, Aston Martin DP215 had been entered in 1963, in the prototype class driven by Phil Hill and Lucien Bianchi. Each day we were treated to glorious road trips through the Loire Valley to chateaux’s for long lazy lunches and enjoyed the company of our fellow guests some of whom included motoring journalists, former racing drivers and a former JWA team member who gave us a great insight into the 1960’s Aston Martin and Ford racing teams of the 1960’s in particular and some wonderful stories to boot.
One of the highlights of the 1500 mile trip was a visit to the Le Mans Museum and circuit and included the chance to take the cars around the circuit as well as along the famous Mulsanne straight, which is of course a public road for the rest of the year. We parked our cars under the famous Dunlop Bridge and lined them up for a fantastic photograph.
Best of all though has to be the 1 hour long drive back from the beautiful Chateau de Chenonceaux line astern in three red E Type roadsters with former racing driver Willie Green leading the way and myself and a fellow guest doing our best to keep up as we hurtled along the long straight French D roads back to the Hotel de France. The sight of bewildered roadside onlookers scarcely believing their eyes as not one but 3 almost identical red E Types blasted past at pace one behind the other with overtaking moves choreographed to perfection (a little poetic licence here to be fair) will forever live in the memory along with my poor wife hunkered down in the passenger foot well imploring me to Slow Down!!!
I had, as it turned out somewhat prophetically, joked with Neil Corner, the owner of DP215 as I chamois his car early one morning, that if he ever sold the car, I would sell the chamois on Ebay for a fortune!!! Little did I know that the car would less than 3 years later go on to sell for a record price of £16.7m at RM Sotheby’s July 2018 auction in the USA.
It was a joy to spend time with a fantastic bunch of like-minded classic car enthusiasts and also to have had the rare privilege to see up close one of the most iconic Aston Martin race cars of all time.