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Old 30-07-22, 11:23 PM
Claude Claude is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 152

Originally Posted by AlanD View Post
I hope to visit the UK next year for an extended period.

Are there any membership clubs that have classic cars which you can drive. Normally you pay so much for a number of points and use these on taking cars out for a week end of during the week. Membership is normally for 12 months.
I am unable to find anything on the internet other than Super-car hire type clubs which does not interest me. There was the Classic Car club in London but this seems to have closed.

Any recommendations?


Alan David
Hi Alan, I have a different recommendation based on similar travel plans from NZ to British Isles in 2020.

Before Covid, we were to attend a family reunion in Ireland in July 2020. It's a long way to go for a four-day weekend, in NZ it's winter, and I wanted to spend a month or more touring the Scottish highlands to learn stories to tell my Scottish ancestry grandson when he gets a bit older.

I found touring in Europe always works best when one has a purpose - like researching partial stichometry in ancient Platonic manuscripts in Oxford or photographing the Centro Storico in ancient Italian towns for a book I was writing. So on this trip it would be seeking Scottish tales for me, and garden visits for my wife.

But as a twist, I wanted to do the tour in a period-appropriate character car, not the usual econobox rental. I posted queries on several forums, and the best answers came from the Jaguar forum.

Classic cars are post-depreciation cars where the remaining cars have been preserved or restored and command serious prices that don't make a lot of sense for a holiday unless one intends to bring it home afterwards. But pre-classics are another class entirely. These are cars that are at the bottom of their curve, but have enough character to become a classic.

When I lived in the states, I did this with a Bristol 410 (LHD) that I bought sight unseen 3000 miles away, had new tyres, exhaust and even a new paint job done in the week before I collected my wife and daughter at the airport, and after memorable adventures, eventually sold to a club member who had Bristol Cars in Filton restore it properly.

So what to buy in 2020? The Jaguar forum provided the best answer.

The post 2000, Ford era Jaguars fit into this class. Indeed the XJ (X350) series, with its all aluminium body is the closest to a Bristol, and the billion dollars Ford invested in Jaguar meant they were reasonably reliable cars.

The XJ has an air suspension which does not wear out, but blows out. One day it's fine, the next it's flat and unsafe to drive. Replacing it is easy, but US$2,500 for airstruts and compressor or $1,200 to replace with coil-over springs. Checking today, good X350s start in the 2-3000 range.

But the real surprise is the S-type. Years ago, I bought one for my daughter, a 2001 Sport model, and driving it the two-day trip back from New Plymouth, found it to be a remarkable car. I drove the winding roads of New Zealand's North Island and was astounded how it gave a comfortable ride on the straights, but in the curves the CATS suspension kept the car flat - noticeably and delightfully so. I loved it.

Today in autotrader, the price range for a good S-type (if the ads are to be believed) are 1500-2000). That's cheap, and at the end of the travel, one can sell it to a forum/club enthusiast for a 1000 discount if they drop one off at LHR.

I decided to go for an S-Type. I got on the forums in the UK and some locals said they would be happy to check nearby cars out for me. Short-term insurance is available, and often a forum or club member will let you borrow their address for registration purposes, although as I have family in London, I was OK on that front.

Of course, all of that got shut down on 25 March 2020, so no EU summer for us. But I did find I was impressed enough with the Jaguar XJ series that I bought one in NZ (2004 XJ6 - NZ$5,000) to take on a mountain holiday for Christmas. I still have it; parked in town in a lockup to be used for weekend getaways when the travel itch hits.

So my recommendation is to buy a Jaguar S-Type in the 2K range, or an XJ (X350) if can find one with sorted suspension, or if money is no object, a convertible XK (X150). Other alternatives would be an interesting Alfa Romeo, a Mercedes SLK (2500) or a London Taxi (2500).

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