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Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Vauxhall Cascada

Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

Geoff Maxted
August 9, 2013

New Cars
You don’t mind a little Shakespeare, do you? It is, after all, a part of our heritage. In this country, heritage is something we value: Royal occasions, stately homes, Katie Price and the Aston Martin DB4 are all icons of the best of British. Sadly, only the wealthy can afford the luxury of a DB4 or the expense of running a Katie Price but there still exists out there an automotive heritage that is within reach of most enthusiastic drivers - practical classic cars.

The Golden Age of Motoring regrettably ended some twenty years ago. Cars of the 21st Century within financial reach of the majority of motorists are very reliable for sure, but they are also, in some cases, a little bland and a lot complicated. We are also beset by more state-sponsored rules and regulations than you could shake a bulldog spanner at. In the UK there basically isn’t any point in buying a very fast car because you will either be thwarted at every turn or, indeed, nicked at every turn. Time to look to the past for inspiration.

Fortunately, it is still possible to enjoy driving despite the cold, dead hand of the state. Many enthusiasts use classic cars as their daily drivers simply because it is a more pleasurable experience - the act of skilfully operating a piece of motoring history. Modern safety features like ESP are all very well but in their efforts to save us from ourselves the manufacturers maybe detract from the experience. In any event, to enjoy driving you don’t necessarily have to go fast or hurtle around corners. Smoothness has its virtues.

Many competent home mechanics will rightly look under the bonnet of a present day car and wonder what is going on and nobody, but nobody, truly understands digital technology - it’s just… there. On the other hand, if you open the lid of an original Mini, for example, all you will find is a simple four cylinder engine and traditional working parts that any competent owner with a dog-eared Haynes manual should be able to fix on a patch of hard-standing outside their house. If you don’t consider yourself competent with car mechanics there exists a world of like-minded enthusiasts and clubs who are always willing to help.

To the layman the expression ‘classic car’ is synonymous with words like ‘expensive’ or ‘nightmare’ but this is not necessarily so. A classic is just a car that is older but considered collectible. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are some cars from the 1980’s and 1990’s that are considered worthy and would come under the heading of modern classics. A case in point might be the Jaguar XJ6 - built as recently as the 1990‘s - a car that is so comfortable and handles so well you’d think it was built yesterday. With it’s bomb proof XK engine this car would make a wonderful weekend car and would certainly work as your daily transport - provided you could afford the fuel!

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming about cars. For example, a while back Renault showed a concept sports car that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original Alpine A110 Berlinette, a car so desirable that just looking at it will melt your shoes and cause a tumescence of the trousering area. The snag is having to pay upwards of £50,000 for a decent example - that’s if you can find one for sale. A top notch XJ6 should cost you well under £10k - now that’s a dream you can make come true and it‘s part of our heritage.

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