Motormouth’s Mutterings. Classic Cars- what’s all that about?!

What is it about classic cars? Growing up, I was always race car mad and had little or no interest in older cars. My dad, however, had a 1953 MG TD and we went on classic car runs about once a month. I had an interest in this partly because it was a sports car but mainly because I had seen Glynn Guisti blow away Lotuses, Tigers and and E type Jag in the Phoenix Park in an earlier, but similar, MGTB. Ignoring the fact that Dad’s standard car produced 55bhp and Guisti’s supercharged and highly tuned example produced almost three times that, I sat in the car out in the garage night after night re-enacting the giant killing feat! Now that I think of it, this may have played a part in my emotional slow down lap when I finally first won in the ‘Park in ’98- some 20 years later! I used to practise heel and toeing too, because I had heard my hero doing it into Mountjoy corner and dad had explained it to me afterwards. I remember the TD had a razor sharp clutch and, combined with a roller type softly sprung throttle pedal, was apt to kangaroo towards the horizon when pulling away from the lights. A few years later, when Dad was selling the car, I drove it out of the garage and washed and shammyed it before the potential new owner arrived. I sat on the wall as he examined the car and when he went to take it for a spin, I mentioned the clutch issue. A prominent motor trader, he looked at me with contempt and said “Son, I’m in the motor trade for 30 years, I won’t have any trouble with a clutch!” I can still remember him almost stalling and then screeching the tyres as the MG lurched out of the driveway……

As ever, when it comes to cars, I digress. I now know what the attraction to classic cars is. People want cars that they remember or even perhaps aspired to back in the day- cars that they remember when they were new. Recently I had a hankering for a Mk1 Golf GTi. When I was young, they were the proverbial dog’s danglies. Almost like a Ferrari in my eyes. Larry Mooney’s giant killing Mondello exploits in his Grange Motors Production Saloon version only compounded my desire. I was looking for one about a year ago, preferably in Mars Red, and a friend of mine told me I was mad. Rent one for a few weeks, he said, you will be bored of it after that- sure a diesel Focus is quicker, handles better and uses less juice. He just doesn’t get it…

I still go to a lot of classic car events, still with Dad, who now has a ’78 Merc 350SL and I definitely find them more interesting than I used to. I also notice a lot of ex racers have picked themselves a classic. Marty Fagan, Mike and Larry Armstrong, Ken Savage and many more are regulars on the classic car scene. My fellow Mondello commentator Matt Feeney is  also a huge classic car buff and can be spotted at shows and meets all over the country. When I was going on runs with Dad back in the day, he was a member of the IVVCC Classic section and there were only a few regional clubs about. Now, there are active classic car clubs all over the country. Dad is currently a member of the Blessington Vintage Car and Motorcycle Club and they do a superb Monday evening run which we have attended a few times. What else would you be doing on a Monday evening only cruising the Wicklow hills with a group of like minded enthusiasts!? (“Watching Coronation Street” is not the answer I am looking for by the way!)

Leo

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