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Sunday With Queenie

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives

Sunday With Queenie

Geoff Maxted
August 31, 2013

Classic Car
There are people out there who have reached a certain age will remember with fondness those Sunday afternoon drives with Dad and the family. Weekdays were for working and school, Saturday’s for shopping and sport and Sunday’s for relaxing in the motor. The day started with the ritual car cleaning. This would be followed by a roast dinner and it would be then that Dad would suggest a nice drive out in the country.

There would follow a leisurely trip through glorious British countryside with bosky glades and billowing fields flecked with sheep. With the windows opened the bucolic atmosphere could be enjoyed to the full, at least until the invasion of an angry wasp, which would start off a minute or two of abject terror and much flailing of arms until Dad could stop the car and release the beast.

Curiously, the trip would always end up at a little country pub that Dad knew about - although it was never established how he knew - that did a decent pint and had an amiable barmaid called Queenie, who, strangely, seemed to know your Father quite well.

Those days are long gone, alas, and not just because of all the modern laws and regulations which seem increasingly to rule our lives but because the cars are simply not right for the job. Ancient folk will remember that when you went out in a Wolseley 15/60 or, better still, a Humber Super Snipe with its glorious transatlantic styling, it was special. This is because in those rose-tinted days, a drive out into the country was something special.

As a Dad, imagine trying to recreate that feeling now. The Ford Focus for example, good car though it is, does not really cut it. The modern car is no longer for outings. It has become merely a social extension of how we lead our lives. No; the only way to recapture those halcyon days is get into the old classic car market and treat yourself.

Astonishingly, you can still find the Humber for sale now and a good, though rare, example should cost under £5000. In fact when it comes to classic car restoration, the cars of the 1950’s and 60’s are ideal for a first foray into this bygone world as there are plenty of lovingly restored examples available if you look in the right places or ask the right people.

Did you know, for example, that as of last year, any car built before 1960 will not require an MOT? This is not as mad as it seems. These cars make up something like 0.6% of cars on the road, but are involved in just 0.03 percent of accidents. This tells you something about the classic car enthusiast. Nobody needs to tell them to maintain their car - it’s a given. They wouldn’t have it any other way. Obviously owners are still legally responsible for their vehicles, but if any group of people understand about safety and mechanical excellence it is vintage vehicle owners. This rare bit of sensible government thinking helps to reduce ownership costs. If in doubt, a good place to start is at a classic car specialist or maybe try a visit to classic car shows. These are the people who really understand old cars and are the first to hand out good advice - sometimes at considerable length.

This means that, even though you are a grown-up, it is still possible to rediscover those childhood memories; but if you do, one day, meet a buxom barmaid called Queenie, try to imagine your Mum’s face from days gone by and walk away before your wife notices! And don’t be thinking they don’t notice either - they have radar. Or so my wife tells me.

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