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Any Classic on Holiday is Better Than No Classic on Holiday

Jaguar to England or Volkswagen to France? Two Danish ViaRETRO readers got behind the wheel of their classic cars and showed us how it’s meant to be done…

My own summer holiday has come to an end and I must conclude that I’m not entirely satisfied with my own utilisation of my classic cars during this time of relaxation. There was an extended weekend to Sweden in the XJ12 and a number of beach days in the Spitfire. In hindsight, there should have been more. But here are two great examples of what could have been done, and of what every enthusiast should do at least once: A proper border-crossing roadtrip in a classic car!

Rune’s VW convertible. If only smells could be caught on pictures as well. (Photo: Rune Larsen)

The main point with today’s story is that this is entirely achievable regardless which classic car you currently own, and these two examples demonstrate it perfectly. After all, there’s a world of difference between a Jaguar XJ-S from the seventies and a convertible Volkswagen Beetle, which were the two classics driven by Lars and Rune respectively.

Your initial thought might well be that Lars’s Jaguar is the better option for such a roadtrip – with its superior performance and comfort, it was practically created for precisely such long-distance continent crushing. But then on the other hand, you’re unlikely to drive any classic to Blenheim Palace or to Paris merely to drive fast. Is your holiday more pleasurable when travelling at high speed on the motorway? Or more enjoyable with 12 cylinders in front of you?

Lars’s Jaguar: Even a V12 must sail to reach the UK. (Photo: Lars Torp Madsen)

I would dearly love to answer yes to the latter question, and I did indeed enjoy our holiday in our XJ12. But the theory just doesn’t hold water. Admitted, we’ve had just as much joy from the humble four cylinders of the Spitfire, and the fact that we never got beyond the shores of Funen island in Denmark is our own fault. Luckily my brother just recently picked up the little Triumph for his own holiday, so at least he is now ensuring it gets to travel a bit further.

Besides, one should never underestimate the virtues of a convertible during summertime. Not many things are more idyllic than Rune’s charming VW with its top down and cruising through French vineyards with the scent of summer filling your nostrils, wind in your hair and the sun beating down on you. That’s bound to be one of those magical feelings which will stay with you for the rest of your life – sort of like hanging out in a sunny hayloft with your friends as a kid. As you’re trundling along a French backroad bathed in summer, the experience is about everything but speed.

The sensation of driving will in both these examples be entirely different from what an ordinary modern car could offer – whether it’s the company car, a fuel-efficient diesel, a rental or what ever else you can come up with. Sure, the modern car would have probably been easier and more carefree. But it would have also lacked that difficult to define element which makes you fondly remember the holiday for the rest of your life.

Of course, it’s part of the story that both these lovely classics did have a bit of a moment during their respective roadtrips. The air-condition system of Lars’s Jaguar started leaking and so did the engine of Rune’s VW. But both issues for solved along the way and the journey continued – now with that experience included. I’m sure we’ve all been there and leading up to last year’s summer holiday, Søren even wrote about Old Car Holidays with the Biggest Lie as a Passenger. But there’s another side to the story, and that’s when everything works out alright and all those sceptical worries were proven unjustified.

A proper roadtrip holiday in a classic car – any classic car – simply adds to the whole experience in a manner which no modern car can ever match. It suddenly becomes an adventure removed from the daily humdrum, and that surely must be the whole point of a holiday? And as so perfectly demonstrated by Lars and Rune, this can be achieved regardless of which classic you own – right from Opel Kadett to Chevrolet Corvette or from Ford Escort to Ferrari 512.

If you haven’t yet tried it, then make sure it becomes part of your very next holiday. And if you have tried it, then please share your experience with us in the comments section below. You might even decide to share a picture with us…

All photos courtesy of Lars Torp Madsen’s and Rune Larsen’s individual holiday photo albums.


4 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk

    I did indeed take on just such a trip last year in my 1975 BMW 2002tiiLux, as some ViaRETRO readers might remember – it features in these “pages” here – It actually did go faultlessly, all 2,900kms of it. Not done anything like that this year, but for next year, a Lands End to John O’Groats trip is planned, which basically means traversing the UK twice

  2. Claus Ebberfeld

    I clearly remember when the honourable Editor Anders years ago taught me about long road trips in his BMW 2002, @tony: I think I asked him whether he carried a large toolkit and he seemed baffled as he asked “Why?”.

    Miss my 2002 Touring, sometimes. Nothing went wrong.

    Miss my road trips too…

  3. Anders Bilidt

    Quite clearly two excellent roadtrips and summer holidays! Well done Lars and Rune…

    It’s amazing just how much difference your choice of car makes to the trip. Back in February, my family and I drove to Denmark in the Reliant Scimitar. Then last month we did it again (the exact same roads), but this time in my wife’s SAAB 9-5 Estate – a 24 year newer car. Now the SAAB is a hugely competent car and I maintain that it’s about as interesting as any car of that era will ever be. But that said, I still enjoyed the Scimitar drive to Denmark and back soooo much more! It felt like a real adventure…

    @claus: As you know, where ever I choose to drive my NullZwei, I rarely carry more than a couple of spanners, a philips screwdriver and a flat screwdriver. Bringing more tools and a heap of spares just seems a bit pointless when the little BMW has never let me down in 27 years of ownership…


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