As we rev up our preparations for Goodwood, our thoughts turn to classic cars and the vexed question: which classic should the discerning chap own? The list of potential candidates is long but we have eschewed the lure of foreign classics (as fabulous as they can be) for the British produced motor. Please note that all views expressed are purely subjective and based on aspiration rather than explicit mechanical knowledge!
Vanden Plas 4.0
Mr Tiernan’s car of choice, the Vanden Plas (do pronounce the ‘s’) is a wonderful classic. The Vanden Plas Owners Club describes this chunky fellow as ‘a breed apart, the car is a jewel of 1960's British workmanship.’ A chap could do worse than to use the walnut drinks trays on the back of seats, while the Rolls Royce engine is a tad thirsty, too! The Vanden Plas interiors are as comfortable today as any modern luxury car but much, much more graceful. Mr Tiernan would like to find a nice one in black with red leather interior. For the younger chap, all this has absolutely nothing to do with the German progressive rock band of the same name!
Jaguar Mk II
Driven by Morse, the most cerebral of detectives, and much beloved getaway car of the criminal classes of the 1960s, the 3.8 liter model being particularly fast with its 220 bhp (164 kW) engine driving the car from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.5 seconds and to a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) with enough room for five adults. This classic adheres to Sir William Lyons maxim of "grace, pace and space", the Mark 2 is a beautiful, fast and capable saloon.
The MGA replaced the older cars and represented a complete styling break from the older vehicles. The car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1955. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of which were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the highest export percentage of any British car.
This little charmer is what we hope that all delivery drivers will turn up in. Wallace drives him and Gromit around in it – what possible higher recommendation? You may have the ability to charm the ladies with a cute car but we’d suggest that you may be better off with…
A tremendously classy motor for a chap who spurns the more obvious charms of the Rolls Royce. A little history: in 1959, Rolls-Royce had bought H. J. Mulliner & Co., coachbuilders. In 1961, it was merged with Park Ward which had been in the possession of Rolls-Royce since 1939, to form Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd. So, when production of the S3 Continentals started there were more differences than the adaption of the previous HJM design by Mulliner Park Ward. Which is all very well but this is a stunning car and one simply must employ a chauffeur.
The Mini is a small car that was made by the British Motor Corporation and its successors from 1959 until 2000. The original is a British icon of the 1960s and its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout (which allowed 80% of the area of the car's to be used for passengers and luggage) influenced a generation of car-makers. Also an excellent excuse to try out your Michael Caine impersonations. All together now: ‘you’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off'!
Land Rover Series 1
One for the country chap or those aspiring to be landed gentry. Comes with a black Labrador as standard!
The Wolseley was a car from the British Wolseley Motor Company, produced from 1954-59, which replaced the 6/80 as the company's flagship model. A solid sort, favoured by the Metroplitan Police, at the time.
One for the slightly more rakish chap and driven (we imagine) by Spitfire fighter pilots after the War. The chaps at Practical Classics describe this beauty as ‘raw, rugged and gutsy, this is classic motoring in its most elemental form. Buy a woolly hat and go and have some fun’. Quite.
Jaguar E Type
Another Jag in the list may appear a little de trop but its combination of good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. A great success for Jaguar, more than 70,000 E-Types were sold during its lifespan. In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in the Daily Telegraph's list of the "100 most beautiful cars" of all time. Wonderful.
Rover P4s, widely known as the "Poor man’s Rolls Royce", provide a very enjoyable journey to a forgotten time; rich in quality with African walnut dash and window surrounds coupled with sumptuous leather interiors. Increasing in popularity in recent times, once considered as standard issue for bank managers.