It is high season for planning the summer holiday. The destination, accommodation and not least the transport to and from. Some choose the ultimate form of holiday transport, i.e. that old classic car which lives out in the garage. It’s a discipline which requires a well-maintained car and not least a slightly alternative way of presenting the truth.
I have been making my own grand plans for a proper transcontinental roadtrip through Europe this summer. My old Citroën DS will once again transport me through France and into Spain – this time in the form of a romance trip with my better half. I have of course done this multiple times, but she is all new and unexperienced in the art of classic car travel. Perhaps that explains why she still hasn’t quite got the concept of what you may and what you may notask the Captain of the ship. Suggestions and comments about the chosen route are naturally welcome, just like her input on enroute accommodation and culinary experiences are appreciated. The same is true when it comes to deciding on the length of the daily stints, as it’s of course not just about getting there, but more so about the both of us enjoying the trip as well. I also intend for us to share the pleasures of occupying both the driver’s and the passenger’s seat. However, once out on the road, it is notpermitted to ask the highly annoying question: “Are we there yet?” It is an expression of a clear lack of will and determination, which to a tired chauffeur is not particularly uplifting. Yet the most sensitive of all questions will usually surface already during the planning phase, or perhaps even earlier than that, as the proud classic car owner first presents his dreams of including his beloved old car in the holidays:
“Are you sure that old car can manage such a long trip???“
Even seeing the question written here is soul-destroying, let alone hearing those words of doubt from your partner in life. To imagine that there exists such a distinct lack of trust and optimism within the walls of home sweet home. Us classic car enthusiasts will of course all agree that those well-serviced and -oiled mechanicals and the perfectly waxed paintjob are practically begging you for a good roadtrip. We understand that there is nothing more soothing for our old cars than a loooongdrive to flex those old stiff joints and circulate that warm smooth oil. It’s a pure shot of vitamin for any old car, which all too often only sees short local drives and spends much to long stood in the lonely garage. The answer to the question should therefore be:
“That poor old car will not cope, if we do not treat it to a proper roadtrip!”
Answer with true conviction, and it’ll most likely be understood and accepted. Even more so if you spice it delicately with a remark like, “there haven’t been any issues with the car for a long time”, “it’s as well-maintained as any brand-new car”, or “I obviously wouldn’t suggest such a trip if I wasn’t convinced it would be fine”. The most hardcore and experienced of us might even try our luck with: “There are exciting challenges and experiences waiting for us, should we encounter problems on our way…”. All of which is of course kind of true, but also a massive lie. No matter how hard we try or how much we want to, we obviously can’t give any guarantees. Even if we have indeed managed to convince ourselves. But on the flipside, I equally don’t expect any such guarantee from my partner or any of her skeptical friends. I would naturally never dream of questioning whether maybe one or even two of the many planned and upcoming Confirmation parties – stretching right out to the most distant of acquaintances – might possibly turn out to be hugely boring to attend?
Secretly, it is of course a prerequisite of any classic car owner, that we are at least a little nervous as to whether the equipment will continue to function as intended. It is with very good reason that all classic car owners are equipped with hypersensitive hearing. It is our most important tool and it is constantly monitoring the situation. We listen for new, strange and at times scary sounds as soon as the engine is turning. The list of diagnoses, prognoses and worried presumptions is almost endless when a new squeak or rattle presents itself. On those long roadtrips, that well-tuned hearing is our trusty passenger – sat right next to the previously mentioned massive lie. It’s somewhat painful to confess, but these are the circumstances. Even childish optimism and faith aren’t enough on their own. The massive lie is an undeniable requirement if the project is to be successful. A bit like jumping into the water to find out whether you can float. I maintain: Prepare the car as best you can before departure, listen to sound advice from other classic car roadtrippers, arm yourself with optimism, and always have an alternate plan ready for immediate initiation.
And on that bombshell, forget about that horrid poolside holiday to the south or the trendy city break. Much rather dare to jump onboard your own time capsule and experience something truly fabulous and adventurous. A journey in time and place from within a car from your own childhood or before.