Christmas comes but once a year, and as we already know – thanks to this exclusive ViaRETRO expose last year – Santa Claus is a true classic car enthusiast just like you and I, and enjoys driving one of a number of red classics in his spare time. In fact, he’s become such a fan that in the past twelve months, he’s scoured the classifieds and auctions and managed to build quite a stable of them, which he’s thinking this year to use to deliver classic-themed gifts to children young and old everywhere. To add to the fun, he’s going to try to choose a specific car for each country or region around the world, and he’s asked ViaRETRO to assist. Well, actually, he’s rather foolishly asked me, so he’s in trouble straight away.
Starting near his home in the frozen north, last year Santa used his trusty old Volvo 445 Duett extensively, but for this December 24th’s trip around the Nordics, while he also has a sturdy Volvo Amazon, he’s decided to take a Saab instead, and as there’s a fair chance of snow and ice on the roads, a proven rally-winner in the aerodynamic tear-drop shape of a Saab 96 will fit the bill perfectly!
For the drive down through Denmark to Germany, he’s not prepared to risk his exquisite ex-Elvis Presley BMW 507, but still needs something with pace to exploit the unrestricted Autobahns (Santa’s record delivery time in Germany was achieved in 2015 in a BMW 3.0CSL) and instead is in the process of choosing from either a magnificent BMW M1, an equally spectacular Porsche 911 RS Carrera 2.7, a stunning Mercedes 300SL or, as there is always the chance of snow in Germany at this time of year, the extra sure-footedness of the formidable Audi UR-Quattro, ideally the 20V version.
As he tries to please as many people as possible, he’s even found a Steyr-Puch to do his rounds of Austria in (unfortunately, this couldn’t be in red), and has added a stunning Monteverdi High Speed 375 to his collection for Switzerland, although with the country being so small, he won’t get to spend long in this superb car.
Following a leisurely drive around the Netherlands in a little Daf 33, he’ll make a detour across to the UK, where Santa is truly spoilt for choice. But having used both the red E-Type Coupé and even Mrs. Claus’ Morris Minor Van a lot last year, this time he’s taking a red Healey 3000, which will be especially entertaining on the Welsh and Scottish mountain roads. We know he’s a spirited driver, so just in case he skids off into a ditch, both a stunning XK 150 and a Gentlemanly DB5 are on standby too.
Back underneath La Manche to France, Santa did make enquiries of our very own Claus Ebberfeld with a view to borrowing his Alpine A310, but sadly, it’s needed for Mr. Ebberfield to show off to relatives during the festive season. Instead he’s considering a very chic Citroen DS Decapotable to soak up the undulating highways and byways of the French countryside, and for something a bit different, maybe the Talbot Murena, or perhaps the Matra Rancho… spacious and also practical for the French Alps.
Over the Pyrenees and into Spain, a Pegaso is the only serious option, but these fabled cars are thin on the ground. However, as Santa is so well connected, he’s been able to borrow one of these exclusive “flying horses” (as close as he could get to a Spanish reindeer) from a collector friend who displayed it at the Hampton Court Concours earlier this year… The only drawback is that it’s not red, but exceptions can always be made for Saint Nick!
Now for our Italian friends – red is the national colour for their cars, and for once, at this time of year, it’s the only appropriate colour choice. Well, it’s too much to expect – even for Santa – to use Nick Mason’s fabulous Ferrari 250 GTO for package deliveries (but here’s another picture of it anyway, just, well, just because…), but there are still so many delectable red machines to choose from, such as an Intermeccanica Indra, or a Maserati Ghibli. Or one of many Ferrari’s – such as his excellent Daytona? In the end, he’s lowered his sights compared to the 250 GTO, but just a little – in a garage out behind the hall where the elves live, his treasured 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint sits ready and waiting, though for the potentially snowier north of the country, a 4WD Lancia Integrale is also ready to go.
For his sweep through the Central and Eastern Europe, Santa will have to do a fair bit of car swapping as many of the countries – except Russia, of course – are fairly small, and being the warm-hearted and generous fellow that he is, he wants to make sure he doesn’t upset anyone who might inadvertently spot him on his rounds. So for Poland he’s gone for a Polski Fiat Estate, in the Czech and Slovak Republics, it would ideally be a Tatra, but these are rare, even more so in red, so a Skoda 1000MB has to suffice, and in Romania, a locally-built version of the Renault 12, a Dacia 1310.
In order to cover the former Yugoslav countries, a Zastava acquired at the NEC Classic Motor Show only last month is his transportation of choice, and to cover the vastness of the Russian Federation and (covertly) the former USSR satellite countries, he’s organised a relay run of a Moskvitch 412, a Lada 2104, a Volga M21, and a huge ZiL limousine. This is not just to cover the vast distances – as not all of these cars were renowned for their reliability, they also act as potential replacements for each other. And while they’re not all literally red, they are actually kind of red, if you know what I mean…
Once Europe’s classic car fans have been left happy, the time zone difference means he can catch up on deliveries in the USA. As the country is so vast, one classic isn’t enough, so he’ll be switching classics halfway round. Instead of his Little Red Corvette, this year his steeds are going to come from the Ford stable – a pony car in the shape of an early red Mustang Fastback (it’s too chilly this time of year for a drophead) and a first-generation Ford Thunderbird. It just so happens that one of his reindeer is called Dunder, derived from the Dutch word for thunder (you might think this is just randomly thrown together; it isn’t, you know, ho ho!).
The Latin American countries offer more limited classic choices, although one was recently featured here in ViaRETRO – fortunately, Santa being an avid ViaRETRO follower, he read this piece, which reminded him that he’d acquired his own VW SP2 at the Bremen Classic Motorshow in the beginning of the year, and in red at that!
For a second Latin classic to back up the SP2, choice was extremely limited, so in the end Santa has had to cheat a little and went for a Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico – it’s a stretch, I know, but as it’s him, can we let him – all right, me – off? At least it’s red…
Once he’s “done” Europe, the USA and Latin America, Santa’s attentions can be diverted to Asia and the Far East. Before we look at what he’s chosen for his swift jaunt around these territories, let’s take a peek inside his sled – towed of course, behind each classic – and some of the gifts he’s going to be delivering.
Thoughtful and considerate chap that he is, he knows that classic car enthusiasts, wherever they reside in the world, always welcome gifts with a classic theme, so Santa’s sled is filled with sackfuls of delights that should bring a smile to the face of any classic car enthusiast… For instance, who wouldn’t welcome finding a pack or two of vintage Top Trumps cards under their tree? Perhaps a suitably classic mug to drink their coffee out of, while they play or, if you’re British, tea? And if you prefer something stronger, maybe a stein with an image of your classic car of choice on the side?
And for the classic garage? Period signs, pictures and calendars for the walls, toolkits for those willing – and able – to get their hands oily, and even a period oil can.
If the classic of your dreams is out of reach, perhaps an appropriate key fob, or a small-scale version of that classic – anything from 1:8 through 1:18, 1:43 or even 1:76. Here’s just a small (ho!ho!ho!) selection. If you’re the lucky owner of a Facel Vega, be prepared to pay a suitable price for your original key fob!
Perhaps you have a classic in mind, but want to try before you buy? In which case, Santa has some vouchers that can be exchanged for a weekend classic car hire so that you can try that E-type you’ve always lusted after.
If classic car shows are your thing, Santa has tickets for a huge variety of events including the NEC Classic Motor Show in Birmingham, Techno Classica in Essen and Auto e Moto d’epoca in Padua to give away, and for Concours fans, Pebble Beach, Hampton Court and the Villa d’Este are all available. You’ll have to make your own travel arrangements, though.
And if combining viewing classic road cars with classic racing is your thing, Santa can get you into a variety of events such as the Silverstone Classic, Goodwood Revival, or the Le Mans Classic, all much enjoyed by the ViaRETRO team this year.
For those of us who like to spend time watching classics hurtling round tracks – or indeed the countryside – in all weathers, hip flasks with a restorative shot of brandy (other restoratives are available), and perhaps an umbrellafor weather protection make useful gifts.
There is of course no end to the amount of classic car themed clothing which can be found – from socks to t-shirts, jackets, caps and more! Or maybe a silk scarf for your better half in a vain attempt at convincing her to join you on a brisk cross-country drive in the roadster?
Subscriptions to classic car magazines such as Motor Klassik or Classic and Sportscar are always well received, as are any number of books to add to your classic library, together with a set of classic car coasters to rest your wine or whisky glass on while you read, and a suitable bottle stopper to keep your tipple of choice fresh.
Membership of your classic car club or register is yet another way to make the most of your classic ownership or enthusiasm – you don’t necessarily have to own the car, just like it!
For the well-travelled, Santa has some distinctive luggage tags to make your almost-certainly-black suitcase stand out a little, and finally, to send appropriately classic greetings to your fellow enthusiasts, how about greetings cards that not only depict your – or their – classic, but on opening, make that classic’s engine sound?! Big Healey? Jensen Interceptor? I kid you not…
Back to the cars though… In Europe and North America, Santa was spoiled for choice; his options in the Asian, African, Latin Americana Oceanic territories, except in Japan, are more limited. Nevertheless, with the assistance of yours truly, he’s been able to source some locally manufactured cars to cover at least some countries.
Finding a classic car originating on the African continent was somewhat more difficult, as only South Africa has had much of a motor industry until fairly recently and that largely based on local production of European and American cars. However, the European car most associated with Africa as a whole, due to its success in the car-breaking Safari Rally, is probably the Peugeot 504, so that’s what St. Nick has opted for. It’s big, rugged and comfortable, all virtues when criss-crossing such varied terrain.
To get around India, it just has to be that old warhorse, the Hindustan Ambassador, itself descended from the Morris Oxford. As he has 1.3 billion people to deliver to, he’s resorted to using his army of elves to help – fortunately, there are many Hindustans he can borrow, as he only has one in his own collection. Some are even red, so he and the elves are happy!
China presents as big a logistical problem as India, and while more cars are now manufactured in China than in any other country in the world, classic Chinese cars are somewhat thinner on the ground. Despite this, Santa being Santa, he of course has been able to get his hands on a couple of Chinese classics in the form of a 1958 Dongfeng CA71 saloon, and as befits a man of his importance, a huge Hongqi CA72, used by senior officials, ambassadors and the like, which the Cite de l’Automobile in Mulhouse has kindly agreed to loan him. While this one is black rather than red, its name means “Red Flag”, so that’ll have to do.
For the Japanese islands, Santa had a variety of options, but he was in the mood for some sports car thrills in the land of the Rising Sun. An obvious choice has to be a Datsun Z-car, and for some mid-engined fun, a Toyota MR2 Mk1. However, being quite the purist, Santa is reputed to have an eye for the iconic Toyota 2000GT and not least the rev-your-heart-out Honda S800. In the end though, the Mazda RX-7 has got his vote, just so he can tell his elves it has a Wankel. They can be quite immature at times, even though they’re very old.
Having covered a fair chunk of Asia, a quick jaunt around the land of kangaroos and koala bears is next – and last – on the agenda (everyone in New Zealand has been very bad this year), and here some serious Aussie V8 heavy metal is a must, so the Ford Falcon 350GT should get him across the Outback in good order. Shame it’s orange, but at least that’s a subset of red, so….
By this time, the effort of trying to find suitable classics – especially in red – has worn Santa Claus and his little helper i.e. me, out, so for the rest of the world, he’s decided to go the traditional route and revert to using reindeer, as the risk of causing any possible offence by using the wrong car is then removed. Plus those reindeer have been making noises about being left out, and we obviously can’t have that.
Of course, there are many other classics which Santa could use for his rounds – perhaps our readers might have some suggestions for particular countries or regions?
In any case, if you, like me, still believe in Santa Claus – who is definitely real, I’ve seen him in Harrods – then no doubt you’ll be wishing that he leaves a classic gift under your Christmas tree. And even if you don’t believe, perhaps your wish will be granted anyway – in any case, a very Merry Classic Christmas to all our ViaRETRO readers!