Tuesday 19 April 2022

Road - Nostalgia

The older you get the less you look forward and the more you look back. It's called nostalgia. This comfortable feeling is aroused by tainted memories that things in the past were better than they are now. In some cases that's true, but most people who hanker after the golden days of motoring are secretly pleased that points have been replaced by electronic ignition and carburettors superseded by fuel injection. That ensures a modicum of reliability as opposed to the old time fears - will we get there on time, if we get there at all?

Not so long ago this desire for more affordable look-alikes was fulfilled by kit cars whereby individuals or companies could build a car from a component set of parts and install their own choice of engines, gearboxes, transmissions and suspension. You only have to look at the number of Cobras out there, it would take a keen eye to spot some of the better builds for what they are.

But for those folk with more money than sense, a new industry has been spawned - manufacturing 'brand new discontinued' models. Combining traditional skills with new materials and methods some manufacturers have come up with 'continuation' cars, like Aston Martin building brand new DB4s and DB5 'Goldfinger' cars, Jaguar have built new XKSS and C Types as well as lightweight E Types, and Bentley has built some 'brand new' 1929 blowers.

And if the manufacturers are at it, then why not the smaller more specialised companies which introduce their own ideas to 'improve the design and styling, ride and handling, reliability and performance'. That's not a restoration, that's a new-build. No wonder there's an awfy lot of shiny 'original' Land Rover Defenders out there! And then there's rally cars. How many 'brand new' Ford Escort Mk2s are running through the forests?

The trouble is this exclusivity comes at a price which pitches them well out of reach of the vast majority of most nostalgia seekers and well away from the pockets of those who could afford the originals back when they were new.

Cars like the Thornley Kelham Jaguar European are now appearing on the market but nowhere, even in the small print, do they state a price. That's down to customer specification and discussion. In other words, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Consider this, they say it takes 5,000 man hours to build one. You can do your own sums from there.

And yet some of these cars do actually look drop dead gorgeous enhancing the evocative lines and appeal of the originals while offering a better ride and a more reliable power option. There's even a variety of 'electric classics' on offer if you look around.

What prompted this latest epistle from the 'wee-est room' thinking space was the appearance of yet another 're-interpretation', this time based on the Austin Healey 100/4 - a personal favourite and one that no-one should tamper with. Or should they?

I'm in two minds. I simply can't make up my mind whether this 're-imagining' is a good thing or not. And yet, despite all the doubts and reservations, I want a Healey by Caton - I really, really want one. I wonder if any of Prince Andrew's rich and generous ex-friends might want a slightly more respectable new pal?

No comments:

Post a Comment