This year that means that neither of my silly old cars I use in the summer is currently driveable. The suicide door Fiat 500 has been playing games for months, letting one problem be solved just in time to reveal another and so far it has beaten a local mechanic, a mate who rebuilds engines in his sleep and someone good enough to prepare the Lister Coupe that came within one rain shower of winning the TT three years ago. But the bloke who services my lawn-mower took one look and listen and instantly came up with a diagnosis no one else has yet ventured. I’ll wait and see if he’s right, but it sounds plausible, and as he also found in the middle of America’s deep south a water pump for my 30 year old Japanese import Kubota mini-tractor when others had told me it would never run again, I feel inclined at least to let him have a stab at it.
I am more upset by the ripple bonnet 2CV’s failure to proceed. Actually, it runs but only with a graunching noise from the suspension loud enough to make me want to put it away until it’s fixed. Also the second engine it’s had since I bought it a couple of years ago has developed severe smoking and drinking habits, and as its favourite tipple is made by Castrol, that’ll need looking at too.
Even so, all this does at least mean I don’t have to decide which car to take on the MSA Spring Classic and I’ll say now there’s no point trying to sign up for it because all the places went months ago. I’ve not done it before but fellow motoring hacks John Simister and Richard Bremner – whose names will be familiar to very many of you – are regulars, and if it’s good enough for them, it is likely to be so for me.
What I like about the idea of the Classic is that it’s the most user friendly motoring event you could possibly conceive. There’s nothing to win and so long as your car is of a type that went into production before 1995, you can turn up in anything you like. There’s no regularity, time checks or anything else: you just drive. And I like too that these rules are clearly flexible as the presence in the entry list of a 2015 Morgan Three Wheeler bears witness. And quite right too: this is not the kind of event to be seen taking yourself too seriously.
The lack of rules also means a delightfully eclectic entry list. Simister is taking a Sunbeam Stiletto, Bremner an Austin Princess. I’ve spotted two Fiat X1/9s in the entry (which is two more than I’ve seen in at least the last decade), a Gordon Keeble, Daimler Dart, Peerless GT, 1933 Railton and so on and on. As I understand it, we’re given a route book full of tulip directions, a wonderful route around south east Wales, Herefordshire and the Cotswolds and a final fling around Castle Combe.
My growing list of automotive casualties means I shall be forced into taking the trusty Peugeot 205GTI which has already had a far busier winter than expected due to being summoned to appear in features within the covers of Octane and Autocar. I already feel a bit of a fraud as to me it feels like an entirely modern car that will offer none of the satisfaction felt by others simply when they get over the line at the end. Instead I shall be simply furious if it does not. Mrs Frankel is not amused either, having fully expected and looked forward until now to be spending two days in a car that even driven flat out could barely keep up with the traffic.
Even so, it will be grand to spend a couple of days driving for nothing but the pleasure of it, and the truth is you don’t need to sign up to any event to do it. So if you have something in the shed peeking out from under the dust cover, get it running, go and drive it for no reason other than that you can, and I hope you love every second of it. And if you don’t, if you start the search now, it could be outside your house ready to enjoy long before the summer starts.